Kansas University’s basketball players, coaches and fans didn’t celebrate after the final horn sounded in the Jayhawks’ 93-60 victory over North Texas last Friday in Allen Fieldhouse.
That’s because the win — as impressive as it was — merely tied the school’s all-time homecourt win streak record of 62 games.
There was not even a mention of the milestone on the public address system in the tradition-rich venue.
“To tie is a big thing,” KU sophomore forward Thomas Robinson said Monday. “But I think it’s a bigger deal if we break it. It sets a new record. It’d be us that did it. We want to come out and be known as the team that broke the streak.”
Robinson and his 15 KU teammates will have the homecourt win streak mark all to themselves if they defeat Texas A&M-Corpus Christi tonight.
Tip for the nonconference clash between the Jayhawks (3-0) and Islanders (1-3) is 7 p.m., with a live telecast on channels 3 and 203.
“It is a huge deal,” Robinson said of going for win No. 63 in a row. “We want to win, especially for the players who came before us — to capitalize on their hard work.”
Former KU players such as Nick Bradford, Ryan Robertson, Eric Chenowith and Billy Thomas — who were part of the original 62-game win streak from 1994 to ‘98 — have made their stance well known in recent Journal-World articles.
They want the 2010-11 Jayhawks to keep the win streak going ... as long as humanly possible.
“We’ve had a lot of former players come back recently — Sasha (Kaun), Nick Bradford. Being around them, we can tell it means a lot to them. They all want us to break the record,” said senior guard Tyrel Reed, one of 15 Jayhawks to have never lost in the fieldhouse.
Only fifth-year senior Brady Morningstar has experienced the agony of defeat.
“Brady was here for a loss,” Reed said. “He says it was horrible to lose in the fieldhouse. That type of feeling ... we don’t want to see that happen. It (losing) wouldn’t be fun. Being here three years, the senior class hasn’t lost here yet. It’s a big thing for us. We want to keep it going.”
Morningstar was a freshman when the current streak opened with a 97-70 victory over Kansas State on Feb. 7, 2007. It was 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 3-0 beginning.
“The guys didn’t say much,” Morningstar recalled of conversation in the locker room after the rare loss. KU is 116-6 at home in Self’s seven-plus seasons at KU.
“It’s not a very fun locker room because you are not used to it at all. You don’t know how to handle yourself. You take it and learn from it. It hasn’t happened since, so we learned from it.
“You lose here and feel so bad. You are not supposed to lose here. When you do, it’s pretty upsetting, especially for letting your fans down.”
KU’s fans have been fillling the fieldhouse and cheering for the Jayhawks a long time — including every game in the 62-game streak from 1994-98. That one opened with a 106-62 victory over Colorado on Feb. 26, 1994, and ended with an 85-81 loss to Iowa on Dec. 8, 1998.
“Our fans are the reason I think we have the No. 1 home court advantage in the country,” Robinson said, recalling the first time he ran out of the fabled northwest tunnel.
“I wanted to come right back and do it again,” Robinson said with a smile. “After you get out there on the court, there’s a whole different feeling. We’ve been to a lot of different arenas in the country. I’ve seen nothing close to the fieldhouse.”
Reed — he said KU’s 71-66 victory over Cornell last season was his favorite victory in the fieldhouse because of the way the Jayhawks “grinded” out the victory — is hoping for an electric atmosphere for what could be a historic night tonight.
“When we play at home, we have great energy. We have to attribute a lot of that to our fans,” Reed said. “There’s something about the fieldhouse. I don’t feel we can be beat no matter who we are playing. I don’t care if it’s an NBA team. I think we’d come out and play hard.”
Self likes the winning attitude.
“You want your players confident. I’m confident, but certainly anybody can be had at any time,” Self said. “I’m respectful of the fact that anybody can beat us. It’s been proven. Oral Roberts, Richmond and Nevada all from non-BCS conferences came in and beat us. But our guys do have a pretty good air of confidence playing at home.”