Rockin' in Allen: KU comes up big over KSU

1/13/2014

By ARNE GREEN

By ARNE GREEN

Special to The Telegram

LAWRENCE — For the uninitiated to the ins and outs of the Sunflower Showdown - and there were several on both sides - a little history lesson provided just the blueprint Kansas needed.

The No. 18-ranked Jayhawks followed a familiar script by turning in a near-flawless first half Saturday and rolling, 86-60, over No. 25 Kansas State at raucous Allen Field House.

It was the eighth straight victory at home in the series for the Jayhawks, all by double digits, and kept them atop the Big 12 standings at 11-4 overall, 2-0 in the league. The loss snapped a 10-game winning streak for K-State, which fell to 12-4 and 2-1.

"We've been watching videos all week on the rivalry and it really got real personal for us, just watching it and seeing how the past teams competed," said KU freshman guard Wayne Selden, who scored 14 of his 20 points in the first half, including a 3-pointer at the buzzer that gave the Jayhawks a 45-28 cushion. "We knew we had to come out and play Kansas basketball."

Kansas basketball in the first half included a torrid 65.5 field goal percentage, coupled with no turnovers. K-State held its own early but simply could not keep pace.

"It was an offensive game and we're not really a good offensive team yet," said K-State junior forward Nino Williams, who came off the bench to hit 4 of 5 shots from the field and led the Wildcats with 12 points. "We're still working on that.

"We're a defensive team and we let (KU's) offense dictate our defense."

The Jayhawks never trailed and opened a 20-12 advantage on freshman reserve Conner Frankamp's corner 3-pointer with 9:16 to go in the half, then used a three-point play from Jamari Traylor, inside bucket by Selden and Tarik Black's dunk at the 6:17 mark to make it 31-15.

K-State never got it back to single digits.

"We made shots and we played pretty well and we shared the ball," KU coach Bill Self said. "I thought that was probably as efficient a half as we've played in a while."

It was KU's three freshmen starters who led the way, with Andrew Wiggins scoring 17 of his game-high 22 points in the second half and center Joel Embiid adding 11 points and nine rebounds before being ejected for a flagrant foul with just under six minutes left. Sophomore Perry Ellis contributed 12 points.

Junior point guard Nadir Tharpe, who had just four points but nine assists without a turnover, said the Jayhawks are finally finding a comfort level after suffering an uncharacteristic four non-conference losses.

"It just starts off at practice, just getting after one another and competing - just repetition," Tharpe said. "Going over the plays and just learning from one another on when we like to get the ball and stuff like that.

"I feel like Wayne (Selden) and Wiggs (Wiggins) now are just going out there and playing their game - just being loose and having fun."

The Jayhawks shot 56.1 percent overall and made 8 of 18 3-pointers, a stark contrast to their last home game, when they hit just 29.8 percent from the floor in a 61-57 loss to San Diego State. Much of it was their ability to handle K-State's traps down low against big men Embiid, Ellis, Traylor and Black.

With Iowa State, West Virginia and K-State losing Saturday, KU now is the only team without a Big 12 loss, but the Jayhawks have a quick turnaround as they travel to Ames, Iowa, to play the Cyclones on tonight. K-State entertains Oklahoma on Tuesday night.

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