Too close for comfort?
That's not the way Kansas basketball coach Roy Williams viewed the Jayhawks' 79-73 overtime win over unranked and unheralded Pepperdine on Thursday night at Allen Fieldhouse.
"At the end of regulation," said Williams, recalling the 68-68 tie, "I said `Yes, I'd like to have won right there.' But I said, `This is fine. We need this overtime. We need this experience.' I think you need these kind of games to be the best team you can possibly be."
The Jayhawks, who trailed most of the way because of Pepperdine's pesky 2-3 zone, plus the scoring of Doug Christie and Geoff Lear (22 and 14 points respectively), finally prevailed thanks to Alonzo Jamison.
Jamison, who tied a career high with eight steals, had six points, two steals and a block in overtime.
Jamison opened the overtime with four straight points on a dunk and layup, giving KU a 72-68 lead.
"I THOUGHT Alonzo Jamison was fantastic," Williams said. "Eight steals, a school record, and three blocks. I may let him take tomorrow off."
Pepperdine, 7-5 overall and 0-3 in overtime, did not wilt following Jamison's early OT surge. Damin Lopez, a 5-8 guard, made a three-pointer, cutting KU's lead to 72-71 at 3:44.
"Little Lopez hit that three in overtime. I thought `My God, when are we gonna get a big lead on these guys,''' said KU guard Adonis Jordan who had 15 points and seven assists.
Pepperdine regained the lead, right after KU missed a pair of threes and a Jamison rejection of one of Christie's shots.
Soph forward Dana Jones scored, yet was called for a charge at 2:41, and Richard Scott hit one of two charities to knot the score at 73 with 2:41 left.
Jamison scored at 1:56 and followed that with a steal. Next, Jordan misfired at 1:04. Pepperdine took over, but Steve Woodberry came up with a steal and was fouled. He missed two free throws at :45, KU still up, 75-73.
JORDAN CANNED a layup at :21, the ball batted to him from a Pepperdine defender by who else? Jamison.
For good measure, Jordan completed the scoring by making a pair of free throws in the final seconds. The Jayhawks climbed to 9-0 and upped their home winning streak to 24 games.
"I do believe," said Williams, "that people enjoyed themselves tonight and got their money's worth and all that. I told the team games like tonight are fun. At the eight-minute mark, when we were down four or five, I said coming back and winning the thing would be fun, it'd be good for us."
KU led early 12-7 at 16:12. Then Pepperdine, paced by seven points from center Derek Noether, went on a 16-2 run, completed a 22-6 burst, and led 29-18 at 6:39. The Waves' zone was particularly effective in that span.
"WE SHOT five straight jump shots," Williams said. "We let the zone bother us 100 million times more than last weekend in Kansas City."
KU, paced by six points by frosh center Greg Ostertag, outscored the Waves, 15-7, to close the half and cut the gap to a workable 36-33.
"He blocked the first shot and made two baskets. Then he got winded," Williams said of Ostertag. "I wanted to come back with him the second half, but it's tough to go with Greg when we're scrambling with pressure (defense)."
The Waves led by seven at various junctures the final half, the last at 58-51 following a Christie bucket and dunk at 8:39. Down 64-59, KU finally tied it on a three by Jordan and a follow shot by Eric Pauley at 3:11. The Jayhawks took the lead on two free throws by Jamison at 2:16.
THE LAST points of the half came at :46. KU trailed 68-66 when Woodberry hit a bucket, but missed a free throw and possible three point play at :46.
Pepperdine had one last try, but lost the ball at :24, when Rex Walters took a charge committed by Lopez. After a strip, KU received the ball out of bounds at three seconds, but Lear blocked a Jamison shot at the buzzer forcing overtime.
Kansas won despite making just 11 of 24 free throws, and the fact starter Ben Davis missed six of seven close-in shots.
"We had a tough time making free throws and Ben had a tough time making layups, but we stuck with it," Williams said.
Kansas will meet SMU at 7:38 p.m. Saturday in Dallas.