Red Raiders Fall To No. 4 Kansas, 83-50|
Javarez Willis paced the Red Raiders with 17 points against Kansas.
Feb. 18, 2012
Then the coach caught Thomas Robinson giggling with his teammates while watching as a humorous clip starring the junior forward played on the video screens. Even the referees were smiling as they watched, and Self knew his team had lost its focus.
"I think it's human nature," Self said, "and we've shown over time that we're not the most mature team or handle maturity that well."
They still managed to handle Texas Tech just fine.
Robinson finished with 16 points and eight rebounds to lead a balanced attack, and the No. 4 Jayhawks emptied their bench early in an 83-50 victory Saturday night.
Travis Releford added 12 points and six others scored at least nine for the Jayhawks (22-5, 12-2), who built a 44-22 lead by halftime and then cruised over the final 20 minutes as they moved back into a tie with Missouri for first place in the Big 12.
"It's more difficult when you're up by a lot more. We had an issue with that today and with Oklahoma State," said Connor Teahan, who had 11 points for the Jayhawks. "When it comes down to it, you have to respect your opponent, and I think toward the end we did that."
Kansas shot 56 percent from the field, including a 9-for-15 clip from beyond the arc, while forcing 20 turnovers and turning them into 24 points.
"Just a good performance by Kansas, and a good whipping we took by a very, very good team," Red Raiders coach Billy Gillispie said. "We had a few good moments, we just made too many mistakes offensively and defensively to be in the game with them."
Texas Tech still has not won a Big 12 road game this season, although losing at Allen Fieldhouse is hardly shameful. Kansas has won 20 straight in its venerable gym, the sixth-best streak in the nation. The Red Raiders are winless in 12 tries there.
The Jayhawks cruised to an 81-46 victory over Texas Tech when the two teams met Jan. 11 in Lubbock, their most lopsided Big 12 road win under Self.
They had just as easy of a time at home.
From the moment Elijah Johnson made a scooping reverse layup in the opening minute, to the back-to-back baskets by Robinson and Tyshawn Taylor that gave the Jayhawks a 14-7 lead just after the first media timeout, the outcome of the game was never really in doubt.
Gillispie may have sensed it, too.
Texas Tech's coach was hit with a technical foul with 12:42 remaining in the half, and Jeff Withey made both free throws as the lead grew to 19-7. Reserve guard Naadir Tharpe even got into the act, burying a 3-pointer as the shot clock wound down to push the lead to 15.
It was all part of an 18-2 run by the Jayhawks, the only bucket for the Red Raiders over a span of nearly nine minutes coming from Nurse, who had all of his points in the first half.
"They're a physical team and we just weren't physical enough," he said. "We didn't pursue the ball hard enough. The person that wants it more is going to get it. They just played harder."
The Red Raiders only made seven field goals in the first stanza, were outrebounded 20-9 by the bigger, stronger Jayhawks, and failed to score a single second-chance point.
Kansas had built a 30-9 lead by the time Self started to substitute liberally midway through the first half, trying to build some confidence in his bench for the stretch run. He often relies on seven regulars, but eight different players scored in the first half alone.
Just about the only thing that didn't go right was a power surge that knocked out juice to a couple of concessions stands and prevented school officials from playing the historic montage on the big screen during player introductions. But even that was resolved in the first half, and the fixture was played prior to the start of the second half, working the crowd into frenzy.
"That was kind of a downer to me," Self said. "I look forward to that every time."
Kansas struggled early in the second half before finally getting back to speed, spending the final 20 minutes tuning up for what should be a critical week.
Missouri (25-2) hosts Kansas State on Tuesday, while the Jayhawks travel to Texas A&M on Wednesday, and then the bitter rivals collide at Allen Fieldhouse next Saturday in what should ultimately decide the regular-season conference champion.
The Jayhawks have won four straight since falling at Missouri on Feb. 4.
"If you work your tail off all year long to put yourself in good position, how can you look past anybody when you can see the light at the end of the tunnel?" Self said. "Everybody will talk about that game, but I guarantee we won't even mention it until Thursday or Wednesday night."