MANHATTAN — Kansas seniors Danielle McCray and Sade Morris didn't think there could be a more miserable bus ride than last season's trip back to Lawrence from Kansas State. But like the most dreaded possible kind of deja-vu, they experienced it all over again Saturday.
Actually, it was worse. Ranked No. 24, and favored to finally end their losing streak in Manhattan, the Jayhawks didn't just get upset. They looked as if they'd rarely played basketball together before.
In one of the most stunning results in the series' history, K-State demolished KU 59-35. The Jayhawks tied their record for lowest point total, having scored 35 twice previously (2002 against Colorado, 2008 against Baylor).
Even the winners couldn't quite believe this game went as it did.
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"I think we were all a little shocked," said Ashley Sweat, who led K-State with 24 points and also had five rebounds, four steals and three assists. "It says here (on the stat sheet), largest lead 29. That's definitely not what I was expecting coming into today. But, a pleasant surprise."
Conversely, this is how KU coach Bonnie Henrickson described it: "Gut-wrenching."
A year ago, the margin of K-State's win over KU in Manhattan was larger: 33 points. But that was a more experienced Wildcat team, one that would go on to the NCAA Tournament.
This season, it seemed the tide had turned strongly in KU's favor. The Jayhawks have preseason All-America candidate McCray and were picked to tie for second in the Big 12 preseason poll. KU went 10-3 in non-conference play, while K-State went 8-6. Their common opponent was Creighton; KU beat the Bluejays 77-56, while K-State lost to them 63-54.
So how did Saturday turn out the way it did?
"It was huge that we were able to establish a post presence today," said K-State coach Deb Patterson, complimenting Sweat and sophomore Jalana Childs (15 points, six rebounds) for that. "Both of these two today were extraordinary with respect to timing, decision-making, aggressiveness."
The Jayhawks, led by sophomore Aishah Sutherland with 12 points, were just the opposite.
"They attacked us from the tip," Henrickson said, "and we laid down."
KU missed its first 11 shots. Well, any team can start cold, right? KU had recovered to trail just 24-22 at the break. But then the Jayhawks missed their first 14 shots of the second half, not scoring from the field until 6 1/2 minutes were left in the game. By that point, K-State was ahead by 25. KU finished with 14 baskets to 20 turnovers.
It was a sweet day for K-State seniors Sweat and Kari Kincaid, who've had to shepherd a young team that lost three starters from last season. All three of those players, incidentally, were on the Wildcats' bench Saturday. Shalee Lehning was named an assistant coach on Patterson's staff Wednesday. Danielle Zanotti is a grad assistant and Marlies Gipson a volunteer assistant.
So they got to enjoy seeing K-State extend its streak over KU in Manhattan to nine in a row. The Wildcats have won 17 of the last 18 games overall in the series. KU beat K-State in double overtime in Lawrence in 2007. But the last time KU won at Bramlage Coliseum was in 2001, when future K-State All-American Nicole Ohlde was a freshman.
"This year, we have more talent than last year," said McCray, who had 10 points on 3-of-14 shooting. "It (stinks) that it's my last year here, and to go out like this is really hard."
KANSAS (10-4, 0-1): Sutherland 6-8 0-0 12, McCray 3-14 4-7 10, Boogaard 2-9 2-2 6, Morris 0-4 0-0 0, Goodrich 2-13 0-1 4, Engelman 1-4 0-0 2, C.Davis 0-0 0-0 0, Brown 0-0 0-0 0, Smith 0-1 1-2 1. Totals 14-53 7-1 2 35.
KANSAS ST. (9-6, 1-0): Sweat 7-17 9-10 24, Childs 7-12 1-3 15, Chambers 2-10 0-0 4, Karr 3-8 2-2 10, Kincaid 1-2 0-0 3, White 0-0 1-2 1, Spani 0-1 0-0 0, Brown 0-3 2-2 2. Totals 20-53 15-19 59.
Halftime—Kansas St. 24-22. Three-point shooting—Kansas 0-11 (Smith 0-1, Engelman 0-1, McCray 0-4, Goodrich 0-5), Kansas St. 4-12 (Karr 2-5, Kincaid 1-1, Sweat 1-2, Spani 0-1, Chambers 0-3). Fouled O ut—None. Rebounds—Kansas 44 (McCray 12), Kansas St. 34 (Chambers 8). Assists—Kansas 5 (McCray 3), Kansas St. 10 (Sweat 3). Total fouls—Kansas 12, Kansas St. 10. A—5,799.