Archive for Sunday, March 4, 2007

Kansas basketball notebook

March 4, 2007

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Kevin Durant, who is just 18 years old, has quite a presence about him.

"Before we came out to warm up, his team was out there, and he was ready to go, looking around in the crowd. I was like, 'Man, he might do something special tonight,''' Kansas University's Darnell Jackson said after Texas' freshman phenom blistered KU for 32 points - 25 in the first half - in a 90-86 loss to the Jayhawks on Saturday in Allen Fieldhouse.

"He came down and just hit shot after shot, five of five from three the first half, and he's a 6-10 big man who can play every position. It's crazy."

Brandon Rush - who spent time guarding Durant, who made 10 of 14 shots the first half and 13 of 22 for the game - shook his head wildly side to side when asked if he wanted another matchup against Durant in the Big 12 tournament.

"Nah, not right now. I've got to let him cool off," Rush said.

The two players traded some good-natured banter Saturday.

"He said I was too small. I couldn't guard him 'cause I was too small," Rush said.

¢ Wooden Award: Rush and Durant on Saturday were named two of 22 players on the final ballot for the Wooden Award, which goes to college basketball's player of the year.

¢ Comparisons difficult: Self said it was tough to compare Durant with other standouts in history. Pressed, KU's coach says Durant reminded him a bit of 6-foot-9 former Duke sharpshooter Mike Dunleavy.

"How many guys can shoot the three that are that tall?" Self said.

A media member suggested a Larry Bird comparison. "That might be right. That might be the guy," Self said.

¢ He likes to start: Russell Robinson, who has been hobbled by a foot injury, learned before the game he'd be starting at point guard in place of Sherron Collins, who had started the past two games.

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2006-07 March 3 KU-Texas Hoops

"I didn't ask coach (Friday). I didn't want to think about it. I found out today," Robinson said.

"It is important to me," he said of starting, "just because it's what I'm used to, setting the tone for the game, things like that."

Robinson responded with a season-high 17 points off 5-of-9 shooting (three of four threes) with four rebounds and two assists in 30 minutes. Collins didn't score, going 0-for-4 from the field with five boards and five assists in 19 minutes.

¢ All in the family: Robinson's dad, Russell, and mom, Theresa, attended. It was Theresa's first trip to the fieldhouse. Collins' mom, Stacey Harris, also was on hand.

"They loved it," Robinson said. "After the game, they were just proud. The crowd was loud. They enjoyed it. It was a great atmosphere. I loved it."

¢ Tourney next: KU wrapped up the No. 1 seed in the Big 12 tournament and next will play at 11:30 a.m. Friday in Ford Center in Oklahoma City. KU will meet the winner of Thursday's 11:30 a.m. game between No. 8 seed Iowa State and No. 9 Oklahoma. The league's seeds were determined by tiebreaker Saturday despite the fact a Monday game between Oklahoma State and Nebraska remains. Complete pairings on page 9C.

¢ Faces in crowd: Ex-Jayhawk Howard Engleman, whose jersey hangs in the rafters, attended. Also on hand were a pair of top high school junior recruits - Willie Warren, 6-2 from North Crowley High in suburban Dallas, and Steve Moore, 6-9, from Truman High in Independence, Mo.

¢ Donation: Several members of the Booth family were on hand for a halftime ceremony. The family has donated an additional $5 million for the Booth Family Hall of Athletics. The building will be extended north to south in the front of the fieldhouse.

¢ Senior Day: KU honored senior managers Molly Bachand, Fairway, and Matt Wolff, Herington, before the game. They were introduced with their parents. There are no senior players on the roster. : D.J. Augustin's 13 assists were most ever by a KU opponent, surpassing the 12 by Oklahoma's Mookie Blaylock in 1989. : KU wrapped up the 1,900th victory in school history. The Jayhawks have won 50 league titles.

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