Christian Moody shed the walk-on label for at least one night, scoring 10 and grabbing 10 rebounds along with two assists and just one turnover in 27 minutes.
Wayne Simien just missed a double-double of his own, scoring 20 and pulling down nine. Keith Langford contributed 17 points to the cause. J.R. Gidden had 13 points of 3-of-8 shooting, and Aaron Miles had 10 points and 7 assists.
Following up a performance that prompted KU head coach Bill Self practically beg for some production – any production – from Wayne Simien’s frontcourt counterpart, Moody took seven shots, hitting five of them. Moody’s performance put his coach in a much better post-game mood.
“I think Christian got his career high across the board: points, rebounds, minutes. He was terrific,” Self praised.
“I thought we played pretty well as a team, but we’ll play a lot better when he or whoever is in there is a threat,” self went on. “Even thought he shot some shots as afterthoughts, he made them. And that’s how he’s supposed to play. He belongs out there, and tonight, he acted like it.”
“I missed my first shot and coach said to step up and take another one because they were doubling down on Wayne,” Moody explained. “If they are going to leave us open in that spot, we have to take advantage of it.”
Wayne Simien also welcomed the help from Moody, a teammate he calls “Mad Dog” because his unassuming demeanor tends to hide “a little bite.”
“It’s very important for not only (Moody) but C.J. (Giles) and Sasha (Kaun), whoever is in there to step up and be able to knock that shot down. That’s something we practice everyday. It relieved some of the pressure from me and I was able to get a few easy baskets. Once he gets comfortable and shoots without thinking, it will be great for us."
And to go along with a solid all-around outing, Moody also made the play of the game.
Wait: amend that to, “play of the season.”
With 5:26 left in the game and the Jayhawks leading 74-61, Aaron Miles picked the pocket of TCU’s Brent Reese-Hackett. Then the fun began.
- Quickly bringing the ball into the forecourt, Miles dished to Langford, who went to the right wing.
- Langford passed the ball to Simien in the low post, about 12 feet out.
- Moody, seeing a clear lane to the hoop, left the high post and set sail for the basket.
- Simien saw Moody flash to the basket and threw a great pass.
- Instead of shooting and looking like he does it all the time, Moody deflected the Simien pass behind his head to a very lonely J.R. Giddens in the corner, who proceeded to bury the wide open three-point shot.
"As soon as I saw Wayne (Simien) throw me the ball, I saw J.R.'s man help off on me. Then I threw it and just hoped he was in the right spot,” Moody explained.
And what did Coach Self think of Moody’s Magic Johnson impersonation?
“He said it was a great pass. Fortunately he didn’t catch it (on the bench),” Moody continued, laughing.
But in typical Moody fashion, the North Carolinian wasn’t losing his head when all about him seemed to be losing theirs. He didn’t view this game as a coming-out party.
"I just want to be consistent every game,” the junior forward said. “I don't know if you would call it a break out game but I’m happy with how I played and I’m happy we won. Hopefully on Saturday, I can just come out and play the same way.”
Other game notes:
- Moody’s no-look to Giddens for three came in at number nine on ESPN SportsCenter’s Top 10 Plays of the Day. However, there have been reported tabulation irregularities in the State of Florida. More as the story develops.
- Keith Langford played like Keith Langford for the second straight game, scoring 17 points in just 26 minutes.
“I’m starting to clear my head about being healthy. Then, the other part of it is not coming into the game worrying about scoring, not worrying about individual statistics and just helping the team win. When we get other people involved, it takes some pressure off.”
- Wayne Simien, on the affection KU’s players have for TCU coach and Leavenworth native Neil Dougherty: “He’s got the Kansas bloodlines. He came up through the ranks and worked with Coach (Roy) Williams, and he was definitely appreciated. Most of the guys who’ve worn a KU jersey over the last five to six years have been recruited by him at some point. There’s a lot of love. We all wanted him to get a head coaching sport, and we’re all supportive of him.”
- KU coach Bill Self was called for a technical foul with 4:42 left in the first stanza for arguing a foul call on Keith Langford. What did the coach say to get rung up?
“I think I said alot. I think I deserved it probably before he gave it to me. I basically wanted to get it.”
- Darnell Jackson missed Thursday night’s game due to a lingering concussion. He took a Sasha Kaun elbow to the head during Monday’s practice and was still having headaches and feeling sick Thursday. He is, however, expected to practice Friday and play Saturday.
- C.J. Giles logged 13 minutes, taking a season-high six shots and logging his first career assist and steal. This may be a sign of things to come: the coach says he should be playing more.
“He’s really a talented kid. I haven’t given him a chance to play a ton of minutes, and he needs to play more minutes,” Self commented. Even when he screws up, he’s still around the ball. He gets five rebounds in 13 minutes tonight, so I think he deserves to play.”