And so it was that the Jayhawks used Cole Aldrich's 15th double-double of the season (18 and 12) and 22 points from Sherron Collins to spank the Bugeaters, 70-53. Collins and Aldrich shot a combined 15-of-23 in the friendly confines of Allen Field House.
Nebraska battled and kept the game close for much of the first half until Collins gave KU some breathing room. His first shot didn't come until the 6:19 mark of the first half when hit a jumper shot to add to KU's lead, 21-12. He scored eight straight points and 10 of their next 11 to lead KU to a 34-23 halftime lead.
Collins took over in a similar fashion for a couple of second-half stretches. He said he was "feelin' it a little."
"Coach kept callin' plays for me," he explained.
KU coach Bill Self couldn't help it.
"He got on a roll in the first half. And they weren't easy shots," he said. "For a guard to get 22 points on 12 shots is pretty hard to do when you don't shoot many free throws. He was super."
Meanwhile, in the paint for the Jayhawks, the big Minnesotan took off his protective face mask and fended off the aggressive, undersized Cornhuskers all afternoon on the way to another good game, yah you betcha.
"That's a tough team for Cole to play against, but I thought he did a pretty good job," Self acknowledged.
Aldrich agreed. "They scrap. They know how to defend the post. Yeah, when we have the ball, their size causes mismatches, but it also helps create tough mismatches for us when they have the ball."
Self was also pleased with 19 high-quality minutes from Markieff Morris off the bench. Morris added six points and collected nine rebounds in a confidence-building stint which was highlighted by a crowd-pleasing second-half dunk off a missed six-footer by Quintrell Thomas, after which he burned upon re-entry and was greeted by NASA officials.
"He hasn't been bad, but he's been a little stale and hasn't had a game that he's impacted as much as today," Self said. "Other than Sherron, he was the best player in the game today from an activity standpoint. He showed off his athletic ability. Now everybody's seen it and everybody can write about it as opposed to just me telling you all the time."
A total of eight Jayhawks scored, but once one gets past KU's two leaders, the offensive production drop-off was canyon-esque: next up was Brady Morningstar (eight), Morris and Tyshawn Taylor (six) and Marcus Morris (five). That lack of balance concerns Self.
"It's too much. I want (Aldrich and Collins) to get 40 points between 'em, don't get me wrong, but we're not getting' the same production from other guys, stepping up from a point standpoint," he said.
"That's got to improve because if those guys (Aldrich and Collins) have an off night and the other guys don't produce, we could be in trouble."
This is the second game in a row where only two Jayhawks scored double digit points, but the coach said that didn't surprise him Saturday. One needs to consider the opponent.
"Who does score a lot of points against Nebraska? Nebraska's only giving up 61 points a game this year, so it's not like you're going to have four or five guys in double figures against them."
Self didn't think his Jayhawks (22-5 overall, 11-1 in the conference) were overlooking Corn to get to their Big Monday match-up against the Oklahoma Sooners. In fact, he was pretty pleased with his teams focus – with a few exceptions.
"I thought that, other than defensive mental breakdowns – they scored 15 points on the same play – I didn't think mentally we were real good. But other than that, we did guard 'em and rebounded pretty well. All and all, not bad. Certainly not our best performance, but not bad."
Other observations from the game...
- KU all-American Dave Robisch was in Allen Field Hizzle for the game. He looks like he could still play. If he did, he'd probably average 8 ppg and 5 rpg. Not great numbers for a two-time all-Big 8 and 1971 team MVP, but remember: the man's 59 years old.
- Nebraska guard and designated punk Cookie Miller is on the short list to play the part of Buckwheat in Oliver Stone's upcoming "Lil Rascals" movie.
- Huskers coach Doc Sadler may be the most demonstrative in the Big 12. No other coach in the conference wears his heart on his sleeve like Sadler. This also probably makes him the most entertaining to watch.
- Other than Morris' follow dunk, the biggest cheer of the day was when the Maryland-North Cackalacky score was flashed on the videoboard: Maryland 88, North Carolina 85, OT. I was surprised. I thought a sound butt kicking in San Antonio last April would've put that all to bed. Guess not.
- Lance Stevenson, Scout.com's #7 overall prospect and #1 small forward was at Saturday's game as part of his official visit. He visited Maryland three weeks ago. UCLA, St. John's and Wake Forest are also on his short list.
- Finally, for the football-starved, KU had 35 junior football prospects in town over the weekend.