LUBBOCK, TEX. What a difference two years makes. Last time Kansas came to Texas Tech to play basketball, the Jayhawks met the Red Raiders in a place called the Lubbock Municipal Coliseum.
I don't know how to describe the LMC it's still standing other than to say that from the outside it looks like an upside-down tugboat. On the inside, it looks like something out of Lara Croft from Tomb Raider. If you don't know who Lara is, wait for the movie starring Angelina Jolie coming soon to a theater near you.
Anyway, Texas Tech now plays in a place called the United Spirit Arena a beautiful building that stands out on the high plains of West Texas like a beige brick Taj Mahal that opened last season.
New arena. Same old undermanned Texas Tech team.
When Kansas spurted to 16-point lead midway through the second half, it reminded me of two years ago when the Jayhawks also had a big lead, but eventually lost when guard Rayford Young, now on the Kansas City Knights' inactive list, scored 41 points most of them after a Tech male cheerleader was ejected by one of the officials.
Fortunately for the Jayhawks on Saturday night, they were able to hang on for a 94-82 victory in large part because: 1) no Tech cheerleader was ejected, and 2) Rayford Young was inactive here, too.
To tell the truth, though, had a cheerleader been tossed for making a remark deemed uncomplimentary by an official, it wouldn't have been surprising if Jamal Brown had worn the Rayford Young mantle.
Brown looked like All-Big 12 material on Saturday night. He scored 23 points, about 13 more than his average while making 4-of-6 three-point attempts.
Going in, Brown, a liquid-quick southpaw, was shooting .268 from three-point range.
On the official stats, Brown played 37 minutes and was credited with nine assists with no turnovers. The assists were no surprise. Brown is leading the Big 12 in that category.
"Jamal is really playing well for us now," Tech coach James Dickey said, "but we've got to play well as a team. You can't be satisfied to be 6-6 with four losses at home. You have to refuse to lose at home."
Dickey talked afterward about how Kansas has the "seven best players in the conference and maybe the seven best in the country" and yet it was the Jayhawks' ninth or 10th man who drilled what may have been the clincher.
During a 12-0 run not too long after halftime, guard Brett Ballard cranked up a three-point shot after taking a feed from Luke Axtell who had rebounded a missed Nick Collison free throw. Ballard's bomb swished, giving KU its first double-digit lead.
Were you as surprised as most people to see Ballard in the game at that juncture? Shoot, he wasn't even listed on the roster in the game program. Nevertheless, in went the first-year transfer from Hutchinson CC.
In the final analysis, KU's inside triumvirate of Nick Collison, Eric Chenowith and Drew Gooden destroyed the Raiders with a combined 43 points and 22 rebounds.
As you know, KU coach Roy Williams decides based on the previous game's defensive stats which of the three will open the game on the bench.
On Saturday, it was Gooden.
"His numbers are actually better when he doesn't start," Williams said of the 6-10 sophomore, "but that's not going to affect what we're going to do."
In other words, defensive stats will remain the criteria, and the whole will remain the sum of its parts.