Memphis, Tenn. KU gives Jayhawk-starved fans in Memphis a taste of the country's top-ranked college basketball team.
Living in a state that thinks as much about Kansas basketball as a cotton farmer ponders the price of wheat, Ken Bonham had to buy a ticket to get a reliable report on the No. 1 Jayhawks.
"If they didn't put the rankings in the paper once a week, I wouldn't know what their record was," said Bonham, a former Coffeyville resident living in Brighton, Tenn., about 35 miles north of Memphis.
Ken and his wife, Linda, were pleased with KU's first-round NCAA Tournament conquest Thursday of Jackson State at The Pyramid.
The 16th-seeded victim didn't succumb without a fight in the Tomb of Doom. But the 78-64 score -- the pregame line was KU by 35 -- didn't overwhelm KU fans anticipating a blowout.
"Sometimes they get to thinking they're so good. They better pick it up," said Shirley Soucy of Topeka, who stepped outside the arena into the rain for a cigarette with KU struggling to slip away from J-State.
That's not to say she's not fired up about the 33-1 club from Lawrence. She wears a simple white button -- It says: '52, '88, '97 -- reflecting the two years KU won the national championship and the year she expects KU to triumph next.
Jackson State pep band member Christopher Burns, who blows a mean trombone, knew deep down his Tigers couldn't dine on the Jayhawks.
While not bitter in defeat, Burns said KU seemed to have a numerical advantage at times on the court -- five players and a referee.
"The referee's a Jayhawk!" Burns shouted. "I know we're the 16th seed, but come on!"
No more than one-fourth of The Pyramid's seats were occupied at tipoff. Fortunately for KU, most of those were filled with folks wearing crimson and blue.
Flag-waving, two-time KU graduate Jon Lill of Collierville, Tenn., said low attendance wasn't a knock against the Jayhawks.
Perhaps it was the venue.
"The difference between playing in The Pyramid and Allen Fieldhouse is like night and day. When you go to Allen, even the building starts to rock. The Pyramid doesn't move people," said Lill, who has a daughter, Jennifer, attending KU.
Ten-year-old Bryan Mostaffa and his three buddies from Overland Park didn't care where the game was played.
Troupe members Chase McAnulty, Andrew Buser, Tyler Passmore and Mostaffa wore blue No. 11 Jacque Vaughn jerseys and temporary Jayhawk tattoos to the game.
Mostaffa's goal was to watch his favorite KU players: Vaughn, the starting point guard, and reserve Nick Bradford.
"He pulls his socks up real high," Mostaffa explained.
McAnulty, wiser at 11 years of age, was concerned more about the next game than fashion.
He doesn't want a showdown against the Purdue Boilermakers at 1:25 a.m. Saturday in Memphis to be another hair-raising experience.
Purdue knocked KU out of the NCAA Tournament in 1994 in Knoxville, Tenn.
"Look," said McAnulty, turning his head to reveal his prediction sculpted in hair. "See, it says KU. Jayhawks all the way."