The game started out as a grinder. And then just like that it got out of hand.
No. 10 Kansas blew past Texas Tech 81-46 on Wednesday night, remaining undefeated in Big 12, and perhaps more than anything composure played a role in changing the game’s direction.
The Jayhawks kept theirs, Tech did not.
Three times in the first half, Kansas shooters stepped to line alone. Technical fouls on Tech coach Billy Gillispie and guard Terran Petteway, then an intentional foul on Petteway that prompted his ejection, helped the Jayhawks pull away to a 15-point halftime lead.
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The second half was Kansas, 13-3 overall and 3-0 in the Big 12, playing loosely, and in fewer than nine minutes the margin was doubled. By then Thomas Robinson had his double-double, had knocked down a triple and fed Elijah Johnson on a lob pass. Robinson finished with 19 points and 12 rebounds.
If the game had a critical stretch it happened early.
The Red Raiders, 7-8 overall and 0-3 in the Big 12, had jumped to an 8-2 lead. But Tech went the next seven possessions without a score and Kansas jumped into the lead.
The frustrations started to mount for Tech. The Red Raiders, who entered the game shooting 48 percent, had trouble finding the basket. They missed nine of 10 three-pointers on the night.
Before the end of the first half Petteway had made the long, slow walk to the locker room. The first violation came when he made contact with Travis Releford with Releford throwing the ball in bounds. The second came after a thrown punch or elbow.
Kansas’ operation wasn’t smooth early. Coach Bill Self yanked front-liner Jeff Withey about two minutes when he didn’t think Withey went hard for a rebound. And after Robinson had collected his second foul with 11½ minutes remaining in the first half, Self sat his star. But Robinson returned briefly at the five-minute mark, a measure of Self’s concern.
But quickly Kansas built the lead. The Jayhawks trailed 18-17, and outscored the Red Raiders 17-2 ending the half. Releford, coming off a Big 12 player of the week effort, continued his scoring ways with a team-best 11 in the first half.
For Tech, the effort couldn’t have been more discouraging. In its previous game, Tech played Baylor to the final minutes before falling by 13. The Red Raiders also had good moments in its league-opening loss to Oklahoma State.
This one might have meant more to Gillispie than any this season. He was taking on his mentor and friend in Self. But the loss burned out to be Tech’s most lopsided of the season.