KU Gets By Colorado

After all the talk surrounding the streak ended in Manhattan earlier in the week, KU came fairly close to starting a streak of its own – a two game losing streak. The Jayhawks used a defensive surge and a three straight slam dunks to put the brakes on a Colorado upset.

It was quite an interesting afternoon in college basketball proving once again there’s a reason games are not played on paper. The number one-ranked Memphis Tigers were on the ropes at home to UTEP and an undermanned Missouri team came from 14 down to beat Kansas State handing the Wildcats their first conference loss.

Part of reaching the “big time’ is learning how to deal with your success. Missouri is a tough place to play but the Tigers were still without several key players after a bar melee earlier in the week. On Saturday, the team in purple received a stern lesson in life at the top.

K-State, possibly nursing a hangover after celebrating a milestone win on Wednesday, fell asleep at the wheel late and is now just a half game ahead of Kansas in the standings- something that may eventually have been a motivating factor for KU.

The Jayhawks looked to be going through the motions against an overmatched Colorado team in Boulder in the first half. The Buffaloes play with four perimeter players and one power forward which clearly bothered Kansas and forced Self to try several different combinations to combat the quickness displayed at all five positions.

Offensively the number of field goals made and turnovers were equal for Self’s squad in the first 20 minutes (10-10), and the Buffaloes went to the lockerroom with a spring in their step with the game tied at 30.

“I thought that we were careless with the ball as evidenced by the ten turnovers,” said Self. “We just weren’t very good. We just didn’t play to our strengths.”

Most people anticipated a blowout against a Colorado team mired in a five-game skid and with only one Big 12 victory to its credit. After all it was an angry Jayhawk team that arrived in Boulder still licking a fresh wound from their first loss of the season, of course many thought they’d pounce. Instead Bill Self’s team came out flat, and with Colorado playing small, KU showed an inability to attack that weakness on offense. Darnell Jackson was the only big who appeared to cash in with 10 first-half points. On the other side of the ball, the Buffaloes executed their offense and shot 50 percent from the floor.

But at the half Self told his players to pick it up and also opted to tell his team about K-State’s loss at Missouri.

“I told the guys at halftime K-State got beat, that may have put a little pep in their step too. In the back of their mind they probably thought, ‘you know something we caught a break now we have to make the most of it.”

Kansas came out with a purpose on defense the second half and thanks to three outstanding dunks in a row – one from Sasha Kaun, one from Mario Chalmers, and one from Brandon Rush - the Jayhawks finally took control, 62-50.

“We actually had three athletic plays in a row that gave us some confidence and got our guys going.”

With Sherron Collins struggling with turnovers, especially in the first half (4 turnovers in 6 minutes), and Russell Robinson with just one point, Chalmers seemed to really spark his team on both ends of the floor and the stat sheet showed it. The junior finished with 8 points, 6 assists, 3 steals, and 2 blocks.

 “To me Mario was the guy today that had the energy and then I thought Brandon was very good the second half and of course Sasha and Darnell were great.

Goes to show once again if you’re Kansas, you’re going to take every team’s best shot. It’s that simple. A win at home against a second-ranked Kansas team would’ve made the Buffaloes season. It would be season-making win for Iowa State or for Oklahoma State or for even Texas A&M. On the heels of hearing guarantees from Bill Walker and Michael Beasley, Richard Roby took a slightly different route but made public how badly he wanted a win against Kansas before his time at CU was done. Get used to it, it probably won’t be the last time we hear comments like these this season.

You deal with this when you’re one of the best in the country and at the top of your own conference. So before you start penciling wins in for games at Oklahoma State or at Iowa State, remember, being on the road is always dangerous.

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