Pepperdine has nothing on magician David Copperfield. On Thursday night, the Waves prestidigitated Allen Fieldhouse into a huge alarm clock.
"We haven't been a very good basketball team the last month," Pepperdine coach Tom Asbury said after the Waves scared the dickens out of Kansas. "I think this will serve as a wake-up call that we can play a little bit."
If the shoe fits, Kansas might wear it, too, Pepperdine point guard Damin Lopez figured after the Jayhawks performed a 79-73 overtime Houdini act.
"We shook 'em up a bit," Lopez said. "Maybe it'll be a wake-up call for them."
PEPPERDINE SHOOK 'em up with a 2-3 zone that turned Kansas' halfcourt offense into a turgid perimeter passing game. Supposedly, the three-point shot destroys zones, but Asbury designed it so he had size mismatches in the zones where Rex Walters and Adonis Jordan, KU's best outside shooters, prefer to launch.
"I think they have enough good perimeter shooters, but sometimes it's tougher to shoot at home than on the road because the expectations are higher," Asbury said. "And the noose got a little tight except on (Adonis) Jordan and (Alonzo) Jamison. Kansas will see zone until they barf off 20 straight against someone."
Ultimately, Pepperdine's bid for a stunning victory was foiled by two factors.
"Our interior defense in the zone broke down and allowed Jamison to get some easy shots," Asbury said. "Second, we got tired because we're not deep."
FOUR PEPPERDINE players logged more than 40 minutes. Doug Christie, who led the Waves with 22 points and 10 boards, played all 45.
That fatigue, Asbury felt, caused Pepperdine particular problems late in regulation and throughout the overtime when Kansas was using fullcourt pressure and the noise made by 15,600 patrons was deafening.
"Regardless of the pressure and the environment," Asbury said, "we made mistakes we don't normally make."
Three of Pepperdine's five losses have been in overtime. The other two were at home against Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo, a Division II school, and against Montana.
Those defeats against lesser lights may have had an effect on KU's mental outlook, senior center Geoff Lear said.
"I didn't see fire in their eyes like they wanted to win," Lear said. "Jamison and Jordan had fire, but the rest seemed like they assumed they'd win."
Pepperdine never assumed anything, of course.
"TONIGHT WE had nothing to lose," guard Lopez said. "If we can't get up for this game, we can't get up for any game. We've had a lot of problems being intense. We proved if we're intense we can play with anybody."
Indeed, Pepperdine nearly joined Duke and Kentucky as the only non-conference teams to win in Allen Fieldhouse since the 1983-84 season.
"That's pretty good company, isn't it?" Lopez said, smiling.