Allen Fieldhouse has been heaven for the home team, a house of horrors for the opposition in Bill Self’s seven-plus seasons at Kansas University.
The Jayhawks, who are a remarkable 115-6 at home under Self, enter Friday’s 7 p.m. nonconference clash against North Texas riding a 61-game homecourt winning streak.
It’s the second-longest home win streak in school history, trailing only a 62-gamer that started with a 106-62 victory over Colorado on Feb. 26, 1994, and ended with an 85-81 loss to Iowa on Dec. 8, 1998.
“I am pretty proud of it,” Self said Wednesday, quickly adding, “it’s not the most important streak. I’d rather win six in a row in March and April than six in a row at home, no question.”
Yet aside from a national title run, “It is a pretty big deal,” Self said. “Everybody wants to be part of a record. I think these guys will be excited trying to be part of it. Brady (fifth-year senior Morningstar) is the only one here that’s been part of a loss at home. There’s no other place in America that can say that. It’s not the biggest deal we’ve got going, but this is something we’re all very proud of.”
The country’s second-longest active homecourt win streak is held by Xavier, which has won 26 in a row in its arena in Cincinnati.
KU’s current homecourt streak opened with a 97-70 victory over Kansas State on Feb. 7, 2007 — a rout contested just four days after a 69-66 heartbreaker to Billy Gillispie’s Texas A&M Aggies. The Jayhawks won four straight to complete the ’06-07 season, then rattled off home marks of 19-0, 18-0 and 18-0 to go with this year’s 2-0 beginning.
“Every time we come out on the court, one of our rules is we don’t lose in the fieldhouse. If we accomplish that, that would be very good,” sophomore Travis Releford said of the record.
“It’d mean a lot to me. I’ve been here three years and not lost at home yet, knock on wood,” KU junior guard Tyshawn Taylor said. I don’t want to be part of the team that breaks it, messes it up. I don’t want to be part of that,” he added with a smile.
Senior guard Tyrel Reed would love to see his KU career end with the homecourt win streak intact.
“It’s be sweet. It’d be cool,” Reed said. “I’ve been fortunate being here three seasons and not having a loss. We’ll definitely keep playing as hard as we can and let the wins take care of themselves.”
The Jayhawks have had several close-call victories of 10 points or less during the current streak:
— 71-66 over Cornell and 81-75 over Baylor last season.
— 92-85 over Tennessee, 91-84 over Siena, 66-61 over Colorado and 83-73 over Texas in 2008-09.
— 76-72 in overtime over Arizona and 100-90 over Baylor in ’07-08.
— 90-86 over Texas on Senior Day in ’06-07.
“We’ve had some good ones against Texas,” Self said, asked to pinpoint his favorite wins during the streak. “We’ve not won them all in tight games, but the crowd, the sixth man, has been so helpful in helping us eke out some where it didn’t look very good.”
If the Jayhawks need any reminders of what can happen on a given night, they can review the rare home losses suffered under Self:
—to Richmond, 69-68, in ’03-04.
—Iowa State, 63-61, OT in ’04-05.
—Nevada, 72-70, and Kansas State, 59-55, in ’05-06.
—Oral Roberts, 78-71, Texas A&M, 69-66 in ’06-07.
The fact KU came so close to winning five of those six games — huge underdog ORU was in command much of the way — raises the question: Are the Jayhawks unbeatable in Lawrence?
“I don’t want to say unbeatable,” Taylor said, “but our energy is that much higher when we are in the fieldhouse in front of our people.
“There’s not been too many (teams) come in the last couple years. Last year against Cornell we were a little shaky. Against Baylor it was a close game. There have been some close games.”
Noted sophomore forward Thomas Robinson: “With our crowd and our fans, I feel like we can’t lose at home, but I know you have to be ready to play, and things happen in college basketball.”
The Morris twins aren’t about to disagree.
“It seems impossible,” junior forward Markieff Morris said of losing at home, “but anything can happen any day. I think if we play with intensity and with our fanpower, I don’t think (KU can lose).”
“I wouldn’t say we are unbeatable,” noted junior forward Marcus Morris, “but in large part we’re a great team at home.”
The Jayhawks pinpointed one obvious reason they are so solid in Allen.
“Coming out of the tunnel, it’s electrifying every game. We feed off the fans’ energy,” Markieff Morris said.
“It’s our fans. It’s our students,” Reed said. “It feels like we have a sixth man out there always. I’d hate to come and be an opponent in the fieldhouse.”
The toughest tests at home in 2010-11 figure to come from USC and UCLA in the nonconference season. South power Texas visits Allen during the always-tough conference campaign.
“I’d like to think that we shouldn’t,” Reed said, asked if KU should ever lose at home, “but there’s going to be a really good team that plays great and is not rattled by the fans or the atmosphere. There’s always the chance, and it’s happened before.”
Self credits those who will not be in the building Friday, guys like Brandon Rush, Mario Chalmers, Darrell Arthur, Sherron Collins, Julian Wright, Darnell Jackson, Russell Robinson ... the list goes on.
“The way I see this, these guys owe it to everybody else that has been a part of that streak that’s not on this team to make sure they are recognized as being part of this streak,” Self said. “I think they should be playing for others every bit as much as they play for themselves on Friday night.”
In case you’re wondering, it would take a long, long time for KU to stretch its win streak to the longest in NCAA history. Kentucky won 129 in a row from 1943-55.
“You play as hard as you can ... with our crowd and fans, I think it’ll be tough to get beat here,” Taylor said.