"I had a blast tonight"

He's back ... again. Cole Aldrich, who said after posting 19 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks against Iowa Sate on Saturday that "it feels good to be back," came up huge again versus Missouri Monday night in Allen Fieldhouse with his own "block" party, much to the delight of the 16,300 fans in his "neighborhood."

The 6-11 Kansas junior center dominated the lane with a season-high seven blocks (tied for fifth-most ever by a Jayhawk), while also adding 12 points and 16 rebounds in KU's 84-65 victory. Cole Aldrich set the defensive tone in the first half with 12 rebounds and five blocks, as MU shot just 25 percent from the field while the Jayhawks raced to a 50-30 lead at halftime.

Oh yes, he also played the role of ball boy, wiping off a wet spot on the floor in the final minute before halftime to the thunderous applause of the Phog.

Aldrich, quite simply, did it all.

Heck, some enterprising fan might want to make another sign in Phog Allen Fieldhouse:

"Pay Heed, All Who Enter (The Lane): Beware Of Cole Play."

But that's too much fuss for Aldrich. The big fella said he was just doing his job.

"That's what I try to do every game," Aldrich said. "Ever since I was 6-foot in fifth grade, I try  to block shots. I go out there and try to make a presence in the lane. ... I'm going to continue to do it (block shots). That's just the player I am.

"I love blocking shots."

Aldrich, who is now tied with Jayhawk legend Danny Manning for fifth place on KU's all-time list with 200 blocks, said the game reminded him of the Dayton contest last March in the NCAA tournament, where he blocked 10 shots and recorded the first official triple-double in Kansas history.

"(Missouri) is kind of one of those teams where it might be a little smaller," Aldrich said, "but it's a tough team because they have some bigs that can really drive you. It just created some opportunities to block some shots from the weak side.

"Fortunately, I was there."

His teammates wanted Aldrich to get another triple double Monday night.

"I heard some stuff," Aldrich said. "Some of the guys were, ‘Oh, you got to get a few more blocks.' Whether I was close or not, I still try to block shots. I thought I had one more, but I guess I fouled him.

"That's all right. I had a blast tonight."

Aldrich can take a deep breath now after a somewhat sluggish nonconference season. He's feeling more peace of mind since his grandmother's Ann passing on Jan. 15. Aldrich had been burdened thinking of his grandma this season, who was suffering with lung cancer until her death.

"Over the last few games I'm starting to kind of get back in the groove where I was playing last year," Aldrich said. "Just having fun again. I think that's the main thing is having fun and playing the game I love."

KU coach Bill Self is certainly glad to see Aldrich return to form.

"He has a freer mind now," said Self, who thought Aldrich had even more blocks and rebounds than the official count. "Cole, he never lets anybody know what's going on. When he plays well, when he plays poorly, whatever it is, you can't really tell by looking at his face. He kind of keeps everything inside. But he's had some things weighing on him. I do think he's kind of had a little of bit a release here the last week and kind of let it go a little bit."

Aldrich certainly honored his grandmother's memory in grand fashion Monday.

"He played great," Self said. "I thought he was dominant."

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