KU Moves On

If you thought Kansas was going to take the momentum gained from the last four games of the regular season and just breeze by Nebraska – you were wrong.

Coming into Friday’s Big 12 quarterfinal Kansas had dismantled its last four opponents on its way to a share of the Big 12 regular season title. The Jayhawks, playing for a possible number one seed, really didn’t give anyone a reason to think Nebraska could hang with the reigning Big 12 Tournament champs.

If winning their last four contests by an average of 25 wasn’t enough reason to think this would be a one-sided affair KU also beat Nebraska by 21 in Lincoln and 31 in Lawrence in two regular season matchups.

Let this be a lesson learned when March rolls around things don’t always go as planned. Seeds are just numbers. They may decide who plays who but all too often they sure don’t determine the result.

Nebraska sure didn’t look like a middle-of-the-pack Big 12 team Thursday, and after head coach Doc Sadler pondered how his Huskers were going to compete with KU on Thursday, by Friday he sure learned the answer. Sadler’s team was determined to use every ounce of the shot clock and even built a nine-point lead in the first half. It was a true survive-and-advance type of game one that Kansas could face again in Round 1 or 2 of the NCAA tournament next week. Sadler game-planned and attempted to compete with Kansas the only way the NU coach knew would give his team any shot.

In a crazy way, maybe Kansas needed this.

KU picked the postseason to have one of its worst halves of the season tying a season-low 22 points. Kansas hit just eight field goals and turned it over 12 times against a Nebraska team not really known for pressure defense, and trailed 27-22 at the break. A stunned partisan Jayhawk crowed could not believe what they were seeing.

The fifth-ranked Jayhawks cranked up the defensive intensity and responded with a 15-4 run that turned a five-point deficit into a six-point lead. The Cornhuskers were down but not quite out. Nebraska kept within striking distance and lost by just ten, 64-54 – a very respectable performance by Sadler’s squad.

A week from now a performance like that one could end this extremely talented team’s season. Playing three perfect games in the Big 12 and six more in the NCAA tournament on the way to what Bill Self’s team hopes is an NCAA title, was highly unlikely – in fact it’s pretty close to impossible so along the way there could be a performance or even two like this one. When you look back through history teams have survived scares on the way to titles so maybe this bodes well for Kansas.

One other thing about March – there’s certainly not much time to dwell on a poor performance or mull over deficiencies because KU will take the floor less than 24 hours later for the semifinals.

The Jayhawks are blessed with talent and experience but a little wake up call couldn’t have hurt. After all this is March, where style points don’t matter – remember, it’s all about surviving and advancing.

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