The names and faces may change, but it appears not much else changes when Kansas and Kansas State meet in basketball. The Wildcats strolled into Allen Fieldhouse, Saturday a confident bunch. Arguably the Big 12's hottest team, the Wildcats seemed poised to announce their presence in the rivalry. A little over two hours later, talk was just that as Kansas responded with a resounding and thorough 86-60 win.
The victory gave Kansas (11-4, 2-0) their second win in row, as they continue their tough five game stretch to begin league play. Kansas State (12-4, 2-1) left reeling and left with no choice but to go back to the drawing board.
"They played really well, and we didn't play well which is why it was a 20-plus point victory," Wildcats coach Bruce Weber said. "It was a great environment. For our young guys, it was interesting for them to be a part of it. I wrote on the board, 'next game, big game' and that is what it's going to end up being. We have to deal with that."
The game repeated the narrative that many Sunflower Showdowns have followed inside Allen Fieldhouse. Kansas came out juiced and behind a raucous and sellout crowd, they assumed a double-digit lead halfway through the first half and never looked back. They turned a 45-28 halftime lead and stretched it past 20 in the second half and increased it as high as 26.
"We guarded well, we rebounded the ball pretty well and we certainly took care of the basketball in the first half against a good defensive team," Kansas coach Bill Self said. "K-State, they're sound defensively and their stats show it. But we were pretty efficient offensively and played with a lot of energy. I think it's one of our better overall performances we've had this year."
Behind big time performances from freshmen Andrew Wiggins (22 points) and Wayne Selden (20 points) the game was never in doubt. The Wildcats were in awe, especially when Wiggins threw down a vicious dunk early in the second half that put the exclamation mark on where both teams stand in the grand scheme of things. It also put other teams on notice that these Jayhawks may be starting to figure some things out as a team.
"I feel like the pieces are starting to come together a lot better and we are starting to come together defensively. We are going pretty hard in practice so I feel like we are going to keep getting better," Selden said.
Attention now turns to perhaps the toughest challenge of the opening stretch of conference plays, as KU travels to Hilton Coliseum to face an Iowa State team that will be angry after falling Saturday at Oklahoma. The game has been circled on the calendar, as the Cyclones will look for some payback after three losses to Kansas a year ago, including two in overtime, where they thought they had victory all but sewn up, only to watch the Jayhawks snatch it away.
"This is a huge game for both of us," Self said. "But, since they lost in Norman today, that place will be jumping. And they're so talented and can score from all five spots, and (DeAndre) Kane is probably the early favorite for player-of-the-year in the league, I would say so far. It'll be a tough contest but one we always enjoy going up there and playing in. Hopefully it will be the same case this year. Go up there, let's have some fun on Monday."