No. 1 Jayhawks romp over Pittsburg State, 103-45

BY foxsports • November 11, 2009

Bill Self spent years scouting, courting and signing the current KansasJayhawks. He's still getting to know them. After watching his prize freshmen help dismantle Division II Pittsburg State 103-45 on Tuesday night, the coach of No. 1 Kansas admitted he's surprised at how well Xavier Henry, Thomas Robinson and Elijah Johnson are performing. "They're better than I thought they'd be," Self said. "Everybody thought Xavier would be a great prospect and he is, without question. I don't know if everyone thought Thomas and Elijah would be the players they are this early." Robinson, a muscular 6-foot-9 power forward, had his best game so far with 17 points, seven rebounds and three blocks. Johnson, a willowy 6-2 guard, wowed the crowd in last week's victory over Fort Hays State and flashed his athletic prowess again Tuesday night with four steals and four assists. The Jayhawks placed seven men in double figures, including Henry with 10 points and six rebounds. "I was seriously thinking a month ago that Elijah was a perfect redshirt candidate," Self said. "Now, he can be a 20-minute-a-game guy. He's really good. And Thomas is going to be good. I think all three of them have performed at a higher level than what any of them thought they would early, even though the competition hasn't been what it's getting ready to be. But it's good to see them out there making basketball plays." Preseason All-Americas Cole Aldrich and Sherron Collins had relatively quiet nights, content to let the youngsters take center stage. Collins did hit consecutive 3-pointers to get the rout rolling in the second half and wound up with 13 points. Aldrich, the 6-11 center, had 10 points but only one rebound. In exhibition victories over two instate Division II foes, the Jayhawks won by a total of 97 points. "I still have to get better guarding the post," the 230-pound Robinson said. "Just getting used to the program. I'm a lot better than what I was when I first got here. But there's still a lot of work to be done." Robinson's main mistake was drawing a technical foul on a second-half dunk. "It was a freshman mistake," he said. Pittsburg State trailed 80-24 when Robinson made a free throw amid a 26-3 run to start the second half. The Gorillas, who return two starters from a 10-17 team, were led by Spencer Magana and Rodney Grace with 11 points each. Kansas, 21-0 in exhibition games under coach Bill Self, opens its season at home on Friday against Hofstra. The Jayhawks, who return their top nine scorers from last season's Big 12 championship team, led 55-21 at halftime and then swamped the visitors over the first 10 minutes of the second half. The crowd reacted when Robinson rejected a shot and then Marcus Morris made two free throws on the other end. It yelled again a couple of minutes later when Morris got a big dunk on an assist from Tyshawn Taylor, who had 12 points. Pittsburg State got $20,000 and a memorable experience for its trip Lawrence. Many of its players are Kansas youngsters who grew up dreaming of playing in historic Allen Fieldhouse. "It is a big thing now that KU is ranked where they are," Gorillas coach Gene Iba said. "They have two great players and they will remember playing them for a long time. Also, it is good for our fans to have a chance to come into Allen Fieldhouse." Magana described the Jayhawks as "very tall, very athletic and very long." "The Phog (Allen Fieldhouse) is enjoyable for any basketball player, especially if you are from the Midwest," Magana said. "It was kind of embarrassing, but I think that this game will definitely help us in the long run." Dominant in just about every phase, the Jayhawks shot 55 percent to Pittsburg State's 36 percent and outrebounded the Gorillas 42-26.