The Kansas Jayhawks can only hope that they got their worst performance out of the way early in tournament season. A showing this ugly next weekend in the NCAA Tournament just might send them home.
KU survived 64-54 against Nebraska in the Big 12 tournament quarterfinals on Friday, winning despite turning it over 18 times and trailing the Cornhuskers 27-22 in the first half. At that point, the No. 2-seeded Jayhawks, 29-3, embarked on a 20-4 run spanning both halves to take a 38-31 lead over No. 7 seed Nebraska.
Of all the teams to bring out KU’s worst, the Cornhuskers seemed the least likely. The Jayhawks beat Nebraska by an average of 28 points in their regular-season meetings. Nebraska was led by junior Ade Dagunduro, who had 10 first-half points and finished with 13, and Paul Velander, who had 12 points on three 3-pointers. In the first half, No. 5 KU played as sloppily as it has all season, turning it over 12 times. Darrell Arthur gave the ball away four times himself and contributed just two points and two rebounds at the intermission.
Kansas, as usual, got it done with balance. Sherron Collins had 13 points, Darnell Jackson and Mario Chalmers had 12 and Sasha Kaun and Brandon Rush had nine.
It was a patented Chalmers stat line: He added five assists, five rebounds, three blocks and three assists for the Jayhawks.
The Sprint Center came alive for KU early in the second half after staying quiet for most of the first half. Of course, there wasn’t much to cheer about.