Manhattan Kansas State’s basketball players felt as if they’d been run over by the Wabash Cannonball.
“It’s kind of a blur,” senior forward Darren Kent said of the start of KSU’s 87-71 loss to rival Kansas University on Jan. 13 in Allen Fieldhouse.
“Every time you turn around, they’re knocking down a three,” Kent added of the Jayhawks, who raced to an 18-0 lead.
KU’s Cole Aldrich and Sherron Collins combined for 11 of the 18 early points as the Jayhawks opened on fire three days after a 75-62 loss at Michigan State.
“That crowd is a good crowd, and we just really got rattled,” KSU sophomore guard Jacob Pullen said. “We took some forced shots, and you looked up and it was 18-0, and then we had to crawl our way back into it.”
Obviously, KU coach Bill Self would love for a similar start in today’s 2:30 p.m. rematch at Bramlage Coliseum.
He knows the odds of that are slim.
“That is an amazing deal,” Self said of the 18-0 beginning. “It doesn’t matter who you are playing. We were lucky. They were unlucky. We played good. They played poorly. You can also look at it on the flipside. It’s amazing how you can be up by so much so early, and they are able to cut it to a one-possession game.”
The Wildcats used an 11-2 second-half start to spur a rally that had them within three points, 45-42. The Jayhawks, who were led by Collins’ 27 points, outscored KSU, 50-47, the second half.
“We were great to start the game. We were fabulous,” Self said. “They controlled the game after that initial start for 20 minutes. Fortunately, we were able to finish it off.”
The Wildcats enter the rematch full of confidence. They’ve won six in a row after an 0-4 league beginning.
Denis Clemente, a junior transfer from the University of Miami (Fla.) who had nine points off 3-of-13 shooting versus KU on Jan. 13, exploded for 44 points in KSU’s 85-81 overtime victory over Texas on Jan. 31 in Austin.
“They’ve got No. 21 playing with a lot of confidence right now,” Self said of Clemente.
“I remember Clemente being really fast,” said KU freshman Tyshawn Taylor, who likely will open defensively against Clemente.
“I remember him not doing much in our game, but in the Texas game he got 40. It shows you once he gets on a roll, he’s hard to stop. He’s so fast. You have to keep him in front of you. Play ‘D,’ don’t let him get going.”