In front of a raucous crowd of 1,400 fans packed into a tiny gym on the campus of the Menonite Educational Institute in Abbotsford, BC the Jayhawks got things started as Keith Langford scored on a tough leaning eight-footer. Within minutes, they had extended the early lead to 12-2 and looked like they were going to run Fraser Valley out of the building.
However, Fraser Valley guard Adam Friessen got hot and after a few long jumpers he had pulled his team to back within five points at 19-14.
Enter J.R. Giddens as the six-foot-five sophomore guard took over the game and put on a dazzling display scoring 16 points over the last 12 minutes of the first half to push the Jayhawks out to a 54-36 advantage. During the span Giddens connected on two deep threes, a couple of deep elbow jumpers and also delighted the crowd by ramming home a 40 foot lob pass from Aaron Miles.
“I came out and my teammates were setting good picks and getting me open,” said Giddens. “Aaron and Mike and Keith were making good passes and getting me the ball in the right spot so all I had to do was shoot it.
In the second half Fraser Valley looked to make another run early but didn’t have enough gas left in the tank after playing UNLV earlier in the afternoon. Fueled by back to back three point jumpers early in the half from Langford and Simien, Kansas was able to cruise home for the victory.
“J.R. came off the bench and really lit it up in the first half,” said head coach Bill Self. “There were a lot of good things, we tried really hard. We’re not very good defensively but we are trying hard and playing pretty hard. Our freshman big guys didn’t put up numbers but they all contributed as well.”
SCORING- J.R. Giddens 23, Keith Langford 21, Wayne Simien 13, Aaron Miles 8, Michael Lee 8, C.J. Giles 7, Alexander Kaun 7, Alex Galindo 7, Russell Robinson 4, Stephen Vinson 3, Darnell Jackson 2, Christian Moody 2, Moulaye Niang 1.
MORE GAME NOTES
- At the end of the email that was sent out containing directions to the MEI gym in Abbotsford it said to think the movie Hoosiers in terms of atmosphere. In reality, the email wasn’t far off as a blend of Kansas fans and appreciative locals packed themselves into every available inch of the gym and made a lot of noise from the minute they entered the building until the final buzzer. The 1,400 fans inside would have been more had officials not had to close the doors and start turning away several more fans after the crowd swelled way beyond capacity.
- There was a collective sigh of relief after senior Wayne Simien got right back up after a nasty mid air collision in the second half. Filling the lane on a fast break, Simien took a pass from Aaron Miles and elevated to throw down a tomahawk jam on Fraser Valley’s Pete Marris. The old man Marris, a former Canadian National team member who is in his late 30’s, wasn’t having it and hacked Simien knocking him down to the ground. However, Marris took the worst of the collision as Simien’s shoulder sent him flying through the air a good seven or eight feet before Marris landed flat on his back. Luckily both players were ok.
- Alex Galindo also went down for a minute grabbing his left rib cage and writhing in pain. He took a poke to the ribs on a drive, and after collecting his breath and resting on the bench for a little while, was able to return to the game.
- Darnell Jackson got the starting call on Sunday night and struggled to get into the flow playing alongside Simien. He ended up with two points on a lob pass and five rebounds in his first starting effort.
- As is usually the case, senior point guard Aaron Miles probably isn’t getting near the recognition that his efforts deserve. The team clearly runs much better while he is on the court and you can see him doing all the little things from keeping his teammates up to working officials for calls. His on the ball defense has improved even more and defenders have often struggled just to get the ball past half court against him.
- It was a solid shooting night for Keith Langford as he connected on 9-13 shots (2-3 3 PT) on his way to a 21 point effort. He’s still recovering from his knee injury and lacks his usual explosiveness or fitness level but he was able to show glimpses of his usual self on Sunday night.