It had been an astounding 29 days since the Kansas Jayhawks graced the floor at Allen Fieldhouse. On Saturday, the Georgetown Hoyas merely played the role of sacrificial lamb, as Kansas overran them in the second half, turning a close game into a run away, winning 86-64.
Kansas (8-3) was in need of some home cooking after losing both games of its first true roadtrip to Colorado and Florida before beating New Mexico at the Sprint Center last Saturday night.
"It felt good. Between the last couple of practices before this game, and coming into this game, I told the guys this is going to be a fun game," guard Naadir Tharpe said. "Being able to come home and play in front of our fans, we will get to go out with a bang before Christmas break. I knew it was going to be turned in there."
The Jayhawks received a huge boost from forward Tarik Black, who has always been in foul trouble, or so it seems throughout the season. Thanks to a move to the bench, Black added energy and toughness immediately and with his parents in attendance, enjoyed his best game at KU, scoring 17 points and hauling down six blocks, while adding two blocks.
"We need to have his mother and father come to more games.," head coach Bill Self said. "This is the first time they've had a chance to see him play. It's a perfect example because Tarik's attitude has been fantastic. He knows he hasn't played as well and a lot of it is self-caused and a lot of it is bad luck. He lost a little confidence but he kept working hard and he never took practices off, even a few possessions off. Hard work paid off. The way he played today, he may not always have 17 points, he didn't do anything spectacular. He just played to his strengths. So if we can keep getting production out of him and Joel (Embiid), we'll be a hard team to deal with. Jamari (Traylor) was great off the bench as well."
The day belonged to the big men, as rapidly rising freshman Joel Embiid was a dominant presence, also scoring 17 points and grabbing eight rebounds. Foward Jamari Traylor provided eight points and seven boards off the bench.
The bigs helped to change the tone of the game, as early on, the Hoyas were in control, leading 21-15, halfway through the first half. The KU defense would take over from there and hold Georgetown 10 minutes without field goal, assuming a 44-34 lead at halftime.
"We just started to pressure the ball more, get the guards out of their game. That is how they like to play, they like to slow the game down. We just wanted to get out there and wreak a little havoc," Tharpe said.
In the second half, the rout was on, as Kansas quickly stretched the lead, building it as big as 28 points late in the game. The Jayhawks will enjoy some holiday break time before hosting Toledo on Monday, December 30th.