One thing is certain about historic Allen Fieldhouse. On certain nights, the old barn can come to life and spur its team on a run that’ll help propel it to victory when all seems bleak.
Kansas with he help of its homecourt, fans and Wayne Selden rallied from an 18-point deficit to overcome a feisty Florida squad and win 71-65 Friday night at Allen Fieldhouse. The win was a gutty one, considering the fact that the Gators held a 45-27 lead early in the second half.
“The one thing about this place, if you can just hang around and you don't have to -- there's no six or eight point plays, just try to win each four minutes,” head coach Bill Self said. “If you're able to do that, which we were, the crowd will get into it; and once the crowd got into it, we played with so much more energy. But, it was a bad team to play in the first half and a terrific Florida team and then the roles reversed the second half. We played very, very well and they missed some shots, but we also defended them so much better.”
After struggling during much of Kansas’ tournament win over Thanksgiving weekend, Selden ignited and the Jayhawk fortunes ignited with him. He would go on to score 21 points, while connecting on nine of 15 field goals.
The game was as much of a role reversal as anything. Florida (3-4) was red hot from the field in the first half at 54 percent, while Kansas (6-1) struggled from the field, shooting 35 percent while just making eight field goals on 23 attempts. In the second half, it’s as both teams switched jerseys and with that came the swift Kansas run, aided by its raccous home crowd.
“I said okay, let's just go back to being who we are and try to win the first four minutes and then the second four minutes,” Self said.” And what we did in the second half, we were polar opposites of the first half. We outrebounded them 24-9 in the second half and they outrebounded us 18-11 in the first half. They didn't get stuff in transition in the second half and we got some stuff. It was just like Jekyll and Hyde almost the second half compared to the first.”
Four players finished in double figures and freshman forward Cliff Alexander hauled in 12 points and 10 rebounds to notch his first career double-double for the Jayhawks, who travel to the nation’s capital for a Wednesday battle with Georgetown.