"The main things were energy, pressure. Today, we wanted to set the tone and play our game," Russell Robinson said.
In fact, Robinson nearly did so single-handedly. He had already picked up five steals by halftime and finished with eight, a new personal high and just one short of Aaron Mile's school record. He also scored four points and dished five assists against just two turnovers in 25 minutes.
Robinson said he "sorta knew" that he was close to the record but wasn't sure.
"I knew I wanted to get one more, but I didn't know for sure," Robinson said, smiling.
"I ain't buyin' that at all," teammate Mario Chalmers interjected.
Chalmers continued, "That's what Russell does: he gets steals. I was hoping he'd get that last one, but we've got a lot more games to do that."
"(Robinson) did a good job setting the tone of the game, defensively, no doubt about that," Kansas coach Bill Self said. "I wouldn't want him guarding me."
On the offensive end, Darnell Jackson had his third double-figure scoring game in a row. The senior center accounted for 20 points and the play of the year – so far – for Kansas.
Just seconds into the second half, Jackson made a steal and kicked the ball toward the KU end. He ran the ball down, picked it up on the left wing and dribbled the ball over a fallen Yale player toward the basket. The jaw-dropped was Jackson's spin move past another Bulldog to convert a lay-up. Oh yeah – and he was fouled on the play. Jackson converted the and-one with the Allen Field House crowd giving him a standing ovation and a smile a mile wide across his face.
Self smiled as he talked about the play, too. "[That play] was about as good a play as I've seen in awhile. You could tell by his smile, he was pretty proud of himself after he did it, too. That was a great play."
Jackson readily admitted that he hasn't had that spin move for very long and gave the credit for it to one of KU's assistant coaches.
"That comes from playing around with coach (Danny) Manning," he said. "Before every practice, we'll go out there, play one-on-one and shoot around. He's just always working with the big guys and he shows us so much."
Kansas held an 18-9 lead halfway through the first half and went on a 15-2 highlight reel dunkfest over the next three-and-a-half minutes to make the score 33-11 and end any hopes of a close game for the Bulldogs. Kansas led 42-19 at the intermission and coasted from there.
Mario Chalmers finished the game with 11 points, putting him over the 1,000-point mark for his career. He continued to shoot lights out from behind the arc Saturday night, hitting on three of five attempts and raising his percentage to 48 for the year.
Chalmers downplayed the accomplishment, though, simply saying, "It's just another milestone. It's neat for me, and my teammates are happy for me, but I couldn't have a thousand points without my teammates, and I dedicate all that to them," he said.
Free throw shooting and rebounding continue to hound the Jayhawks. KU was 12 for 25 from the charity stripe for 48 percent Saturday night. As a comparison, KU shot 44.4 percent from behind the three-point arc Saturday night (eight of 18).
KU was also out-rebounded by Yale, 36-35. Yale held a 21-17 edge at the half. Lots of bad three-point shooting by Yale accounted for some of the differential. Cole Aldrich came off the bench to lead Kansas with seven rebounds in just 12 minutes of play. Darnell Jackson was second with just five boards in 24 minutes.
Neither statistic sat very well with the coach and he expressed both concerns when asked what New Year's resolutions he had for his team.
"I think most KU fans will agree we will need to shoot better free throws. It's brutal. And you can't put it on one or two guys; it's the whole team. I think everybody on the team with the exception of Sasha (Kaun) who plays major minutes is shooting between 60 and 70 (percent), and that's not good enough.
"We gotta rebound better. Sasha and Darnell and Shady and Brandon don't go after the ball like they should." Those four players combined for a skimpy 13 rebounds Saturday night.
Nevertheless, Self said he is confident that the Jayhawks were able to maintain the momentum they began to build prior to the holiday break and looks forward to a tough challenge next week when KU takes on ACC conference member Boston College.
"I wish we played again before we play BC. A week this time of year is a long time, but we need practice and this was probably a good game to play right after a break."
"The thing that's great about BC is they win close games. If you get in a game with them that comes down to the last four, five possessions, they're gonna be as equipped as anybody to play those games because they play close-possession games all the time."