Perry Ellis left the floor at Allen Fieldhouse to 16,300 fans chanting his name. They saluted a sophomore, who grows wiser with each passing game. After this particular one, he had turned a career high 32 points to go with eight rebounds and five assists.
"It felt good, it was great fan support," Ellis said. "I'm just trying to go out there and play my best, that's all I can do."
There in lies the beauty of it. Lost amidst the hype and flash of Andrew Wiggins and soaring stock of center Joel Embiid, is Ellis, the player who may very well be the most important part of Kansas' strategy as they push for a 10th consecutive Big 12 title and then aim for bigger riches in the NCAA Tournament.
"He may not be our leading scorer most nights, but he's our most consistent scorer," head coach Bill Self said.
Early on, it appeared the Jayhawks were still suffering from a hangover after Monday's loss to Kansas State, but after the break, it seemed as if Kansas leaned on their defense to be the constant and with that turned a close game into runaway with remarkable quickness.
A seven point lead was stretched to 20 within seven minutes and it was all over from there and like Ellis, it was methodical and brutally efficient.
"We knew we weren't playing how we should have been playing," guard Wayne Selden said. "We had to get it together and Coach (Self) basically wanted us to pick up the defense. We weren't really doing much, we were scoring but they were matching our points. We had to cut down their defense and we came out with intensity in the second half."
Kansas (19-6, 10-2) outrebounded TCU (9-15, 0-12) 35-18 and dominated points in the paint to a tune of 53-18 and with 62 percent shooting from the field, the game was every bit the mismatch it was expected to be after halftime.
"Well we told our guys, 'Maybe this half we can try a little harder.' So we did change a little on how we guarded but it really wasn't effective, but all it was, was energy," Self said. "So we did a good job on that. I thought defensively we had steals that led to baskets. There were a lot of things that happened pretty good defensively the second half and probably, just looking at the stat sheet, another thing that was great in the second half was rebounding. I think it was 21-7 in the second half from a rebound margin. We were pretty dominant in that area."
The Jayhawks will look for their 20th win of the season, Tuesday at Texas Tech, a team that continues to grow under first year coach Tubby Smith. They've now become a team that makes it foolish to count on it as an automatic win.
"That game today, I may be mistaken, but I thought it was a one-point game with just a minute or two left at Iowa State," Self said. "We know how hard it is to win there. So yeah, they're a lot better. Tubby's done a fabulous job, he and his staff – they're playing hard. You look at their recent games, I mean they're on a roll right now, even though they lost in Ames. They're playing great. What they did in Norman, having them down 20 in the second half at OU, and we know how easy OU scores. It's a weird league when OU can go to OSU and win, and Iowa State goes to OU and has them down 20. We know anything can happen, and certainly it'll be sold out I'm sure, and it'll be a totally different atmosphere from anything we've seen down there."