"We Can Be Great"

Chestnut Hill, Mass. — Just before the introduction of the KU starting lineups in the Kansas-Boston College game on Saturday, the Jayhawks' fans in the upper balcony of the Conte Forum chanted: "Let's Go Jayhawks, Let's Go Jayhawks."

The cheers from the KU faithful grew louder throughout the building as the Kansas players were introduced. While it took 12 minutes into the first half, the Jayhawks finally played like they were back home in Allen Fieldhouse, breaking a 22-all game at the 8:22 mark to close out the half on a 25-7 run. KU, which led 47-29 at halftime and was up by as many as 25 points in the second half, whipped Boston College, 85-60, in front of a sellout crowd of 8,606.

"It's probably about as complete as we've played," said KU head coach Bill Self.

Self added that he thinks "we can guard better over 40 minutes, although for half the game, we really defended well."

With KU owning a 39-24 advantage on the boards, dominating the scoring in the paint (54-26), and displaying some high-flying dunks on the fast break (16-4 edge in fastbreak points), the Jayhawks put on a show for the nationally televised ESPN audience.

After Kansas blitzed B.C. to end the first half, ESPN announcer Sean McDonough walked by press row and told reporters:

"That's the best team I've seen all year. I've seen North Carolina play twice."

Senior Darnell Jackson led Kansas with a career-high 25 points, while sophomore Darrell Arthur scored a season-high 22.

"My job is just to play hard for my teammates and coaches," said Jackson, who added his career high was insignificant. "Twenty five (points), it could have been five or zero. I'm happy with it. I don't care about my points or my rebounds, as long as I do what I have to do on the court."

Jackson and Arthur combined to score 19 of KU's first 26 points of the game, helping Kansas withstand 18 first-half points from Eagles' star point guard Tyrese Rice. Rice, who picked up his fourth foul with 16:40 remaining in the second half, played just 10 minutes and scored only two points the final 20 minutes.

"We caught a break when he got his fourth foul," Self said.

Arthur agreed with Self that KU played its most complete game of the season. KU shot 53.2 percent from the field (58.3 percent in the second half), and held the Eagles to just 42.3 percent shooting. The Jayhawks also had just 10 turnovers.

"I thought we played as a team,"Arthur said. "I though we ran the floor pretty good, we got the ball where we needed it to be, we made easy shots, we crashed the glass and played good defense."

Of course, the key was the Jayhawks' big first-half run. KU, which had trouble stopping B.C.'s Flex offense, turned its defense up a notch. Jackson scored eight points during that stretch, while junior Brandon Rush (12 points) added five.

"The last seven or eight minutes," said Self, "we really defended them well and got easy baskets."

The Eagles gave KU a slight scare in the second half when they closed to within 14 points (61-47) with 10:33 remaining. After Self called a 30-second timeout, the B.C. fans were the loudest they'd been all day, waving white towels and cheering on the hometown team.

After Kansas and Boston College exchanged buckets (63-49), KU junior guard Mario Chalmers and B.C.'s freshman guard Rakim Sanders began talking back and forth heading upcourt. Play stopped as heated words were exchanged by the two teams at midcourt.

The scuffle seemed to inspire the Jayhawks, who went on a furious 10-2 run.

"I think it (woke us up)," Rush said. "We like things like that. We're just competing out there."

"Anytime you have competition" said Chalmers, "you're going to have a battle between two players. (Sanders) is a great player. I just tried to lock him up and we got into it a little bit. ...It was just friendly competition."

Self agreed.

"That happens all the time," he said. "I don't like seeing that, but it didn't bother me at all because it kind of got us fired up."

Indeed, KU pushed its 63-49 lead to 78-53 with 5:30 remaining.

"Even though the game wasn't in doubt, that was good to just go through that," Self said about Boston College narrowing the lead. "I thought we competed the hardest when we felt the tightest. ...I think that's a good thing, because in conference play, if you're fortunate enough to be in the games, all the games are going to be close on the road."

While this was a road game, the Jayhawks' fans in Beantown turned out in good numbers.

"I thought that was amazing," Rush said. "We got fans everywhere, all around the country. It was pretty good looking up in the crowd (KU supporters) at someone else's house."

Kansas (14-0) now goes back home to Allen Fieldhouse on Jan. 8 to face Loyola College (MD.) before opening conference play at Nebraska on Jan. 12.

"I think the pieces are in place for us to have a big year," Self said.

"We can be great," Jackson added.


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