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Archive for Monday, January 5, 1998

LEAD WAY VERSUS NU

January 5, 1998

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Eric Chenowith scored a career-high 19 points Saturday night in KU's 96-76 win over Nebraska.

Kansas University didn't long suffer from its Hawaiian hangover.

Just days after suffering their second setback at the hands of Hawaii, the No. 2-Jayhawks opened the Big 12 season with a convincing 96-76 victory over Nebraska on Saturday night at Allen Fieldhouse.

"It was a good victory for us," KU reserve point guard C.B. McGrath said. "Coming off our loss to Hawaii, we didn't feel too well. The big fellas really stepped up for us. It was a big victory."

Those big fellas -- specifically freshman Eric Chenowith and Lester Earl -- came up big against the Huskers (9-5 overall, 0-1 Big 12). Chenowith scored a career-high 19 points, and Earl added a double-double with 11 points and a team-high 10 rebounds for the Jayhawks (17-2, 1-0).

"Lester and I have been working a lot in practice together, communicating," Chenowith said. "It was good to see him have some success."

Chenowith had plenty of his own. Making his first start for the Allen Fieldhouse crowd, he hit nine of 11 field goals, collected six rebounds and two blocks with just one turnover -- after struggling in his previous four starts in place of the injured Raef LaFrentz and T.J. Pugh.

"I knew I was doing some good things out there," Chenowith said. "For the first time in a long time, when I was coming out of the game coach said, 'Good job.'

"Coach was getting on me a lot for not going to the basket. I was fading, and my shot was getting blocked a lot."

Not Saturday.

The 7-footer's previous struggles have been well documented. After scoring in double figures in three of KU's first four games, Chenowith reached double digits just twice thereafter -- until Saturday. His last double-figure game was Dec. 13 against Middle Tennessee State.

"Sometimes I suffer from analysis paralysis. Tonight I just played," Chenowith said. "You could call this a pivotal point for me. It could be the turning point for me."

Freshman Kenny Gregory played a role in the five-guard lineup the Jayhawks used late in the first half. That lineup featured Gregory (6-foot-5), Ryan Robertson (6-5), Jelani Janisse (6-3), McGrath (5-11) and Nick Bradford (6-6).

KU coach Roy Williams went small to help protect Earl and Chenowith, who had three and two fouls, respectively, at the half.

"We call it the chickenhawks," McGrath said. "I don't know why. When we're in the chickenhawks, we know we're going to get after it and hopefully the rebounds will bounce our way.

"We never worked on it in practice. Coach just told us to be ready to go if we got in foul trouble. We used it in Hawaii a little."

KU will play host to Colorado on Wednesday. Tipoff is 7:05 p.m. at Allen Fieldhouse.

  • Clinic: About 250 youths attended KU's basketball clinic on Sunday at Allen Fieldhouse. The South bleachers were filled with parents filming the Jayhawks working with the youths at various stations. The highlight of the 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. clinic might have been when Raef LaFrentz picked up a youngster with his left arm, hoisted him to the shoulders and spun around like a top. LaFrentz, of course, has a broken bone in his right hand.

  • That darn bird: Team comedian Paul Pierce had a personal highlight from his trip to Hawaii. Janisse stood under a tree when a bird released some droppings on KU's unsuspecting player.

"Everybody looked at Jelani. We knew it wasn't raining," Pierce said with a laugh. "Jelani started walking away real fast. We were yelling, 'Jelani, Jelani.' He was so embarrassed. He wouldn't stop."

Funny free throw: Pierce on Lester Earl's phantom free throw attempt in the second half. Fearing an airball as the ball slipped, Earl kept the ball as players from both teams jumped into the lane. It resembled a Harlem Globetrotters' skit.

"I was going for the rebound. I looked up and Lester's still got it," Pierce said. "I guess he wanted to make the highlights, huh? He was either trying to win an ESPY, make plays of the week or had brainlock."

-- Andrew Hartsock's phone number is 832-7216. His e-mail address is hartsock@ljworld.com.

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