Last season, Nevada came out and laid a thorough -- but unexpected -- beating on the Kansas Jayhawks. Whether revenge was on their mind or not, the Jayhawks took the court with intensity on both ends of the court as they used a balanced attack to run away and hide from the Wolfpack for an 85-52 win as they improved to 3-0.
Applying intense defensive pressure from the opening tip, Kansas opened the game with a 23-6 run during the first 9:02 of the ballgame. During the run a suffocating defense forced Nevada into seven turnovers which resulted in 13 of the Jayhawks total 27 points off of turnovers.
Sophomore guard J.R. Giddens also came out firing early hitting for 11 of his 13 points and nailing three deep jumpers. Giddens shooting and senior point guard Aaron Miles eight first half assists helped to set the tone for a 43-21 halftime lead.
It was the way that Giddens wanted things to go.
“Man that kind of felt good, I wish we would have won by 40, but I’ll take that because I think they beat us by 14 last year and had us down by 25 at one point,” said Giddens. “I’m not going to say it was revenge, but it feels very good to go ahead and get this game behind us the way we should have got it behind us last year.”
Working with a huge that swelled to as many as 39 points, 79-40, with 4:07 to go Kansas also had to fight complacency. Although their outside shooting wasn’t there, the Jayhawks were picked up by senior forward Wayne Simien’s work -- eight points and seven rebounds of his game high 14 and 10 during the second half -- around the basket and the energy of freshman guard Russell Robinson who thrilled the Allen Fieldhouse crowd with a 13 point performance on 6-9 shooting from the floor.
According to Robinson, Miles -- who finished with 10 assists to zero turnovers -- deserves another assist for helping him make the transition and helping enable his early impact.
“Aaron talks to me before every game and basically comes out and says to play hard and try to lessen my mistakes,” said Robinson. “Think next play and little things like that, that players do. (Miles) Just tells me to play hard and create something while I’m in the game.”
Where Robinson was able to create is on the defensive end where he was credited with three of Kansas’ 10 team steals in only 16 minutes of play. After forcing 18 turnovers and holding the Wolfpack to a meager 27.9% shooting from the field, head coach Bill Self wasn’t just happy with Robinson’s spark, he was happy with the entire defensive effort.
“I thought our defense was pretty good, I don’t think it was as good as their stats would indicate because I thought they missed some open shots,” said Self. “We did a real good job on Fazekas and from our standpoint he had seven points going into the last t.v. timeout.”
Senior guard Keith Langford, who scored 12 points and hauled down seven rebounds, agreed that the defense played a role in propelling Kansas to a lopsided victory.
“We knew from watching film and from what the coaches told us that a lot of their offense was predicated on ball reversal and passes more so than the drive,” said Langford. “So we thought that if we could deny a few passes on the perimeter that it would disrupt the flow of their whole offense.”
The win moves Kansas to 3-0 on the season and they’ll have a day off on Tuesday before they are back in action on Saturday when they’ll host Pacific.