Drew Gooden tried to put his own type of exclamation point on Kansas University's 105-62 men's basketball victory over outmanned Pittsburg State on Wednesday night at Allen Fieldhouse.
Gooden, who gored the Gorillas for 26 points and 13 rebounds, plucked one of his three steals at midcourt with just over nine minutes to play.
The 6-foot-10 forward raced in uncontested, hoping to complete a one-for-the-ages slam dunk, but instead settled for a rather routine jam, grinning at KU coach Roy Williams after the half-botched play.
"When Michael Jordan was at North Carolina he had the 'rock the cradle dunk,' is what they called it, against Maryland," Williams said after the annihilation of the NCAA Div. II Gorillas. "Everybody knows what it was like. That's what Drew was going to try to do cup it, run by the rim and dunk it. He said he caught his hand in his own jersey. I said, 'Yeah.' What could I say?"
Gooden sheepishly explained how the early Christmas gift to his coach went awry.
"I was trying to bring back memories for coach," Gooden said. "I kind of lost it because my finger got caught in my jersey. But then I kind of got it back in the air and finished it."
Gooden was happy to report the play started with one of his three steals.
"My goal tonight was five steals," Gooden said. "Defensive intensity, being in the right place on defense was our goal tonight. Setting the school record in steals was our goal tonight. We almost broke the school record."
Led by Jeff Boschee and Aaron Miles, who had five and four steals respectively, the Jayhawks plucked 21 steals, one off the all-time school mark of 22 set against Marquette in 1990.
"We are doing more things defensively as far as pressing and scrambling," Williams said after his club forced the Gorillas into 30 turnovers to KU's 20. "We do have better team speed. Last year we did a better job holding teams' field goal percentage down, but weren't as good coming up with steals. It's what we're trying to do.
"We had more players, bigger players, quicker players you should have more steals."
KU had 11-0 and 19-0 runs the first half in blazing to a 52-28 halftime advantage. Kirk Hinrich, who scored 18 points, had eight points and Gooden four in the 19-0 burst that gave KU a 44-14 lead with five minutes left in the half.
"We always want to pressure the ball good enough to be able to steal it," said Hinrich, who had four assists and a steal. "We probably could have had more (steals)."
Boschee contributed 12 points and Nick Collison 10 in 18 foul-plagued minutes. Aaron Miles had nine points, while Bryant Nash scored a career-high eight. Jeff Carey also had eight points with five boards, while Michael Lee had seven points and Keith Langford five assists.
KU hit 59.7 percent of its shots including seven of 14 threes for 50 percent. The Gorillas, who were led by guard Cedric Brooks' 19 points, hit five of 24 threes and 37.9 percent of their shots.
"They played hard. They have a lot of Kansas kids on their team," Hinrich said. "I think we matched their intensity."
KU did start a bit slowly, leading just 8-5 after six minutes.
"It was 6-2 and I thought we'd been out there 10 minutes," Williams said. "We got off to a bad start. There were more pluses than minuses tonight to say the least. We wanted to maintain focus regardless of the score and try to maintain intensity and I think we did that.
"We were able to get the ball inside and get some things early and also shot a good percentage from the three-point line as well. We do have to do a better job of playing defense with our feet. Some of our fouls were silly ones."
The Jayhawks will travel to Arizona for a 1:30 p.m. (Central time) tipoff on Saturday. Then it's back home to meet Wake Forest on Tuesday night.