Almost exactly a year ago, Eric Pauley couldn't shoot a basketball into the ocean from a rowboat.
On Wednesday night, he was a battleship.
Pauley missed his first shot in Kansas' 103-54 broadside of Wichita State, then made 10 in a row one under the Big Eight record and finished with a game-high 20 points.
On Jan. 4, 1992, the 6-10 senior center missed all nine shots he attempted in the Jayhawks' 79-67 victory over SMU in Dallas.
What a difference.
"It's desire. . .it's all work," KU guard Adonis Jordan said in assessing Pauley's improvement. "He put in a lot of time in the weight room."
Pauley recalled that night in SMU's Moody Coliseum as his worst shooting effort "as far as I can remember."
AS A matter of fact, Pauley wasn't much better in the Jayhawks' next game, a Jan. 8 outing against Wichita State in Levitt Arena. He missed six of seven shots in that one.
Eventually, Pauley came around, shooting 59.3 percent during the Big Eight portion of the Jayhawks' schedule.
"Coach had confidence in me," Pauley said. "I wasn't starting then, but he started me against Missouri, and I was looking at the Big Eight as the start of a new season for me."
Now acclimated after transferring prior to last season from Cypress CC in California, Pauley leads the Jayhawks in scoring while shooting nearly 55 percent.
Teammate Rex Walters remembers Pauley's horrible early January shooting slump a year ago.
"I told him, `We were gonna keep going to you,'" Walters said. "You know, he's really a funny guy. He's quiet, but he's opening up. Last year I don't think he knew if he could play at this level. Now I think he knows he can."
JORDAN ALSO believes Pauley has acquired self-confidence.
"He's the kind of guy he'd miss two or three shots and he'd be down," Jordan said. "Right now he's on Cloud Nine. He's playing real well. Everybody talks about me and Rex, but we have guys inside, too."
Typically, Pauley downplayed his performance against the Shockers.
"Tonight my teammates set me up real well," he said. "They were getting me the ball in good spots. When that happens, it's easy."
It sure looked easy for the entire Kansas team on Wednesday night. A dozen Jayhawks scored, including walk-on Blake Weichbrodt who was just added to the varsity.
Clearly this was a team anxious to bounce back from last week's loss to Michigan in the Rainbow Classic and to play at home for the first time since Dec. 21.
"We'd love to be 11-0, but 10-1 isn't that bad," Jordan said.
Kansas will play its first conference game here Saturday afternoon against Iowa State but, according to Jordan, the new season has already started.
"THIS WAS the start of the second season," Jordan said. "Coming off that loss, this game was the second season."
Added Walters: "We haven't played this well the whole season. This was a perfect time to kick in our game with Iowa State and Oklahoma coming up."
Kansas will play at Oklahoma next Monday night.