In the latest Associated Press women’s basketball poll, released early last week, Kansas University received one vote after an 11-1 start to the season.
Proving they didn’t let the extra attention go to their heads, the Jayhawks hit the road Wednesday and knocked off No. 23 Texas, 72-67, giving coach Bonnie Henrickson’s team a huge lift entering conference play.
While the Jayhawks admitted to feeling great about their first road victory against a ranked opponent since 2000, they aren’t planning on letting that go to their heads either. The reason? Their next opponent.
At 7 tonight, KU (12-1 overall and 1-0 in Big 12 play) will play host to Kansas State (10-3, 1-0) in the first of two scheduled Sunflower Showdown meetings between the two teams. After allowing 24 hours to celebrate Wednesday’s outcome, Henrickson had her players focused and was certain that the Texas game was behind them.
“One of my favorite sayings is, ‘If what you did yesterday still looks good, you haven’t done much today,’” Henrickson said.
While the Jayhawks enter tonight’s game on the heels of one of their most exciting victories in years, the Wildcats come to Allen Fieldhouse in a similar position. The same night that KU topped Texas, K-State edged No. 9 Texas A&M, 71-69 in overtime. It’s still early, but, for two teams looking to get a leg up in conference play, you can’t draw up a much bigger game.
“No. I don’t think so,” Henrickson said. “And I think it’s great. It’s great for both of us.”
K-State has won two straight in the series and seven of the last eight. Most of those battles were close, however, and several came down to the final minutes, including both meetings last season, when the Wildcats topped the Jayhawks, 65-60, in Manhattan and, 56-51, in Lawrence.
Junior guard Brittany Chambers leads K-State in scoring, with 16 points per game, and is one of two Wildcats averaging double-digits. Senior forward Jalana Childs (15.2) is the other, and Childs, who has played some of her best games against KU, leads KSU in shooting at 46.3 percent. Childs’ 6.2 rebounds per game also lead K-State.
As a team, Kansas State leads the Big 12 in scoring defense (50.6 points) but ranks last in scoring (59.8) and field goal percentage (38.8).
KU sits at the other end of the spectrum. As of last Sunday, the Jayhawks led the nation in field goal percentage, with a mark of 50.2 percent. Junior forward Carolyn Davis’ 65.4-percent shooting ranks in the top five nationally, and Davis leads the team in scoring at 17.3 points per game. Currently, the 6-foot-3 forward from Houston is working on a streak of three consecutive double-doubles, a run she kept alive with a 16-point, 10-rebound effort in KU’s win against Texas.
The Jayhawks hardly are a one-woman show, though. Davis is one of three Jayhawks averaging double figures, as point guard Angel Goodrich (12.6 points, 8.2 assists and 3.7 steals) and senior forward Aishah Sutherland (13.5 points, 8.8 rebounds) have teamed with Davis to lead KU’s offensive attack. Junior guard Monica Engelman is close to joining them. Engelman’s points-per-game average since returning to the starting lineup four games ago is up to 15 and currently sits at 9.9 for the season.
Engelman, who hails from San Antonio, said Sunflower fever has captured her when it comes to this rivalry, and she’s looking forward to facing the Wildcats when both teams are playing at such a high level.
“I’m amped up, and I’m excited to play them,” Engelman said. “We really want to get this win. They have awesome players and, what’s good for us, is that they beat Texas A&M. So if we can get that next one, that’s gonna look good on our resume, too.”