Simply smothering: Defense carries Kansas to rout of Texas
If ESPN’s “GameDay” announcers like defense, they’ll definitely push for more and more telecasts at Kansas University, site of the Jayhawks’ 73-47 smothering of Texas on Saturday in Allen Fieldhouse.
Oh, there were some enjoyable offensive plays, such as Ben McLemore’s full 360-degree, forceful two-handed dunk and Tyler Self’s driving bucket in the lane during walk-on time, but defense told the story on a night the Jayhawks improved to 21-4 overall and 9-3 in the Big 12. Texas fell to 11-14, 3-9.
“Defensively, we were terrific,” KU coach Bill Self said. “We defended great in the first half.”
Texas hit just five of 26 shots the first half as KU raced to a 28-15 halftime advantage. By game’s end, the Longhorns finished 12-of-55 shooting for 21.8 percent (2-for-21 from three), which is a historically low figure.
It is the lowest shooting percentage by a KU opponent since at least the 1975-76 season. Before that, box scores did not include shot attempts, thus no figures are available.
Texas had just three assists, fewest in a regular-season game since Ohio’s three on Nov. 26, 2010.
“We had back-to-back shot-clock violations. I don’t know if we’ve ever had that when the other team isn’t stalling the ball,” Self said of Texas’ being unable to attempt a shot on two straight possessions late in the first half. “I thought Jeff (Withey, 15 points, 11 boards and two blocks in passing Chris Mihm as the Big 12 all-time shot block leader) was terrific, and Travis (Releford, 15 points, seven first half) got us off to a good start.”
Elijah Johnson shook a slump by scoring 12 points off 5-of-10 shooting with four assists against one turnover. McLemore had 13 points and six boards.
The Jayhawks put on quite a show for former KU guard Mario Chalmers, who had his jersey retired in a halftime ceremony, and other NBA Jayhawks in the stands: Marcus and Markieff Morris, Xavier Henry, Nick Collison, Tyshawn Taylor and Thomas Robinson.
“It helps when they (former KU players) throw us a reminder,” said Johnson, who receives texts from Chalmers and Tyshawn Taylor regularly.
“They simplify it and say, ‘Been there,'” Johnson added of players reminding the current Jayhawks they’ve also been through tough times. “A couple players have said, ‘Been there,’ to me.
“At one point (in three- game losing streak), we were playing for everybody but ourselves. Time was passing. It was passing so fast, and we were having fun, but not the kind of fun we wanted to have,” Johnson added. “We had a couple of meetings and checked ourselves in the mirror. We started to enjoy each other more. With those losses, we showed how much more we care for each other. We don’t like to see each other hurt like that. We tried to nip that in the bud.
“Everybody is just playing. Nobody is thinking. Everybody is going after what they think belongs to them,” Johnson added.
The Jayhawks had a blast this weekend, visiting with the former players in town, taking part in “GameDay” festivities and also filming a “Harlem Shake” video Friday in the locker room.
“I’m not big on social networking,” Johnson said with a smile. “That was all Justin Wesley. At first, I wasn’t big on doing it. I’ll step out of my comfort zone a little bit, and I think everyone else felt the same way. When Justin kind of forced us to do it, it turned into us having so much energy yesterday, and we went into practice, and it carried over. We just started to realize there is not too much time left to enjoy it. Right now, it is something we can look back on and say, ‘Hey when we were going through a bad time, this is when it started to get fun,’ and we have a video now to show it.”
Self approved of the video. In fact, he’s in it, writing “Harlem Shake” on the board before the players perform the Shake.
“It kind of shows team unity,” Self said. “I think our fans like to see our guys are real, too.”
The Jayhawks will meet Oklahoma State at 8 p.m. Wednesday in Stillwater, Okla.