The most important thing on Saturday afternoon was that Kansas take care of business against visiting Colorado and move their record to 20-1 and move to 10-0 in the Big 12 Conference. Thanks to a convincing run during the second half the Jayhawks blew open a relatively close game -- 40-33 at the half -- and watched as walkons and freshman cleaned up the scraps for an 89-60 win.
Kansas sophomore J.R. Giddens got things started early and scored five of his 11 points as the Jayhawks opened the game with an 18-7 during the first 9:54 of the game. The run was punctuated when freshman big man Sash Kaun slammed home one of Aaron Miles game high nine assists on a pretty alley-oop pass.
However, Colorado refused to go down early as they fought back into the game and made things interesting for a while. Playing mostly zone, the Buffs caused the Kansas offense --- other than senior Wayne Simien who set a school record by making 11-11 first half free throws and scored 15 of his game high 25 points -- to sputter.
When sophomore guard Marcus Hall closed with a coast to coast the first half on a coast to coast drive Colorado had closed to within seven points.
“We didn’t play well in the first half and we let them hang around,” said Kansas coach Bill Self. “They score on the last possession which is inexcusable the way they scored it.”
Perhaps motivated by a halftime speech from Self, Kansas quickly pushed the lead to 46-34 after an offensive rebound and stick-back from Simien with 17:26 remaining.
Colorado would respond with one final run and cut the lead back to five points when Jason Obazuaye made a layup with 13:15 to close the gap to 51-46. The layup which came after a Glean Eddy steal proved to be Colorado’s final highlight as Kansas went on a tear from that point.
After relatively quiet first halves, Kansas’ senior backcourt of Miles and Keith Langford came to life over the next 9:21 and sparked a 34-11 run. By the time Colorado coach Ricardo Patton called a second timeout to try and stop the bleeding, Miles and Langford had combined for 23 points, five assists and four rebounds as the Jayhawks effectively slammed the door.
“We just kept the game nasty, we didn’t let them run their sets and they didn’t want to take guarded shots and their offense wasn’t flowing for them,” said Langford who finished with 14 points, four rebounds and four assists. “We’re willing to play ugly and a lot of teams don’t like to do that. They’ll break or snap eventually and when they do we’ll turn that nastiness into easy buckets.”
The win sets up an important Monday evening battle on ESPN as the Jayhawks travel to Lubbock to face Texas Tech. Coming off of a tough road loss to Iowa State, Miles knows that he and his teammates will be in for a tough game from Bobby Knight’s Red Raiders.
“Every road game is going to be difficult so we’ve got to go in there and be focused,” said Miles who scored 15 of his 17 points during the second half on Saturday. “We can’t think about this win too much. We’ve got to focus in for Texas Tech because they are a great team with a great coach and we’re playing down at their place.”