During a devastating five-minute run in the second half of Kansas' 91-56 victory against Emporia State on Monday night, ESU coach Ron Slaymaker desperately needed a momentum-breaker.
"I kept waiting for that TV timeout at 16 minutes and it never came," Slaymaker said. "I didn't want to use my last timeout then. We had a timeout coming, it's just we needed a whistle. I should have jumped out at midcourt and got a whistle to stop things. That little spurt right there did us in."
That spurt was a 16-2 KU scoring run that sealed upset-minded ESU's fate in the second half.
THE HORNETS, Div. II underdogs to the nation's No. 2-ranked team, didn't fold early as expected and even held the lead for almost six minutes of the first half.
"They play good pressure defense so what we wanted to do was back cut and get some layups," junior guard James McCallop said. "We got a few layups and some open shots and we hit those. I thought that was the key to our early success. We just got tired in the second half and had a lot of turnovers."
McCallop led the Hornets with 14 points and five steals. Andy Uphoff added 11 points and 15 rebounds.
"We proved to ourselves we are a very good team," Uphoff said. "We've got a long ways to go still, yet we have great potential."
ESU outrebounded KU 42-32 and held a 21-12 edge at halftime behind Uphoff's 10 boards.
"Every game I try and go out and play hard and the boards seem like they just come to you," Uphoff said. "It was just hard work and boxing out real well. It was fundamental rebounding."
SLAYMAKER SAID his team was not to blame for the second-half collapse.
"That was KU," he said. "Ninety percent of it was them. Ten percent of it was us. It became a very physical game. We went three minutes in the second half, they didn't score. They finally scored and from that point on I think we just mentally reached a point where it was so difficult to maintain the concentration level because we made a ton of mistakes."
The final score, Slaymaker said, didn't concern him.
"You've got to look at the pluses," he said. "I thought they responded really well to the conditions we were walking into. I thought they respected where we were at, but they weren't overwhelmed by it, as evidenced by their playing for 23 minutes."
During pregame introductions, the Emporia State starters each went and high-fived a group of ESU football players who were behind press row.
Uphoff, who is 28 years old, was a 5-foot-7 point guard at Manhattan High. "I went to work in Kansas City for five or six years, grew a foot and decided to come back to school," Uphoff said.
Uphoff is not the oldest player on ESU's team. Junior Celso Doria from Brazil is a little more than three months older than Uphoff.