Much like last year's matchup against Boston College, it was nip-and-tuck early, but KU used a couple of dominant runs to put away the Eagles (10-3), 85-60 at Conte Forum Saturday.
With a large Jayhawk contingent on hand in Chestnut Hill, Kansas gave its coach everything he asked for in its final non-conference road test. Self preached better free throw shooting and more active rebounding and he got both on Saturday.
Kansas shot 15-19 from the line, and hammered the Eagles 39-24 on the glass. In two prior road contests this season the Jayhawks looked sped up and turned it over at an alarming rate (19 vs. Georgia Tech, 22 vs. USC), Self admittedly was concerned about giving away possessions on the road. Saturday, Kansas looked poised, under control, and only turned it over 10 times, a lot of them coming late in the second half with the game already in hand.
Early on the Jayhawks had a hard time stopping BC point guard Tyrese Rice who ended up with 18 points in the first half (20 for the game). Rice ended up in foul trouble and missed a good amount of time in the second half scoring only two points in the second stanza. But it wasn't Rice who lost this game for the Eagles. Al Skinner's team simply had no answers for Darrell Arthur (22 pts) and Darnell Jackson (career-high 25) inside and in transition. The frontcourt duo combined for 19-25 shooting from the floor and hit 9-10 free throws.
BC is likely a middle-of-the-pack ACC team but this was a quality win for Kansas.
This was a game that was tied at 22 in the first half and then KU went on to score 33 of the game's next 41 points. In the second half when Kansas suffered a small lull letting BC inch within 14 points, a sleeping giant was awakened. In the midst of a run, the Eagles decided to do some woofing which started with a confrontation between Rakim Sanders and KU guard Mario Chalmers. Sanders appeared to inject life into the Jayhawks who made yet another run to push the lead back up to 22 points by the five minute mark and eventually win by 25. The moral of the story? Don't give an already more talented team extra motivation.
Thursday during the Big 12 teleconference Self said he believed Kansas could still be a team that steals the ball about nine times a game even when the competition stiffens. The Jayhawks proved that notching ten steals on the Eagles homecourt with Chalmers (4) and Russell Robinson (2) accounting for six of the ten.
Offensively Jackson and Arthur weren't the only bright spots. Sherron Collins didn't shoot it well (1-5) but made a couple of moves that made me believe he's closer to being the Sherron we all know. Off the dribble in the first half the explosive sophomore made a move off the dribble that was an absolute ankle-breaker, and though he didn't finish it's a good sign Collins is getting closer to getting the spring back in his step and had five assists in this one.