As far as Sunflower Showdown affairs at Allen Fieldhouse go, it was pretty typical. Kansas breaks out to a big lead. Kansas State looks shocked and overmatched, then recovers, merely to trade buckets in the second half, en route to a sizeable Jayhawk win.
Thus was the case once again, as the Jayhawks cruised to a 68-57 victory, Saturday at Allen Fieldhouse. Ironically though, there was a moral victory for the Wildcats, as the 11-point margin was the closest margin of defeat for them in Lawrence, since actually defeating Kansas on its home floor on January 14, 2006.
"Not many people have won here,” Kansas State head coach Bruce Weber said. “He's (Kansas head coach Bill Self) got only nine losses in his 12 or 13 years, however many he's been here. Obviously, if you are going to come in here you have to guard them and fight them; I'm not saying with fists, you have to battle them. If you don't do that, if you think you are going to go in and just be pretty and soft, you aren't going to win."
Kansas (18-3, 7-1) led 20-5 eight minutes into the game and the game was settled. Kansas State (12-10, 5-4) was beaten thanks in part to a 16-point, 12 rebound performance by KU forward Perry Ellis, who asserted himself early and often. Kansas made it a plan to get him involved and have him impose his well on the visitors.
“If you watched us play, historically, we want to play inside-out early, but this is not an inside-out team,” Self said. “So we want to play through Ellis as much as we can, maybe as a perimeter player to work back inside off the drive or whatnot. Ellis delivered early; he had 13 points and 10 rebounds at halftime. I thought he played very well."
With four Jayhawks in double figures, the game was tucked in the back pocket, allowing all to focus on the main event in the form of Monday night’s true showdown with Iowa State on the biggest of Mondays at Allen Fieldhouse.
Kansas will look to avenge an 86-81 loss in Ames a few weeks ago in a game that will have major bearing on whether or not the Jayhawks can claim an 11th straight Big 12 championship. However, the motives may be simpler than that, as the page was turned almost immediately following Saturday’s appetizer.
"Right now,” guard Kelly Oubre said. “We owe them."