MANHATTAN, Kan. — When Bramlage Coliseum is packed as it was for Tuesdays Sunflower Showdown, there is no louder place on the planet.
By BLAIR KERKHOFF
The Kansas City Star
Ears will ring into the next day. Students, who are treated royally with midcourt seats that stretch from the bottom to top of the building, scream and boo with passion. The teams pregame entrance comes compete with dramatic music and a behind-the-scenes player dance contest captured on the big screen.
In short, its everything a home-floor advantage should be.
And Kansas State should vacate it the next time Kansas arrives.
Chain the doors. Barricade the place. Play anywhere else.
The Jayhawks won the defensive struggle 59-55, and thats no shocking development for the team ranked third nationally. KU, 17-1, was excellent defensively throughout the muddy contest.
Its just that, well, Kansas shouldnt win here. Not again and again and again. This marks the 25th season of Bramlage, and the Jayhawks are now 23-2 in the place.
For a rivalry, thats unfathomable. K-State has won more games (three) at Allen Fieldhouse in that span.
The two Kansas State victories came in the previous five years, under former coach Frank Martin, and required the greatest performance by the programs career scoring leader, Jacob Pullen and craftsmanship from the single best player to come through the program in the past quarter-century, Michael Beasley.
Kansas doesnt lose many, but theyve fallen more often to worse teams on the road under Bill Self, including three straight once at Texas Tech.
The home floor should elevate the Wildcats, be worth three or four points. Kansas State could have used them Tuesday, but there never seems to be an advantage at Bramlage against the Jayhawks.
There will be an impression that Kansas State is overrated at No. 11 nationally. Perhaps. Its been a rapid ascent as the Wildcats entered the polls the day before Christmas and have made big jumps throughout their eight-game winning streak.
Still, K-State might have stood a better chance with a different approach. The Wildcats attempted a season-high 30 shots from behind the arc. Cats coach Bruce Weber pointed to Iowa States success with that strategy earlier this season in the near-miss at Allen Fieldhouse. The Cyclones hoisted 38 triples, making 14, and fell in overtime.
Which is what an underdog on the road should do, not a home team that rebounds well. Point guard Angel Rodriguez, who effectively got the basket, thought the Wildcats should have been more on the attack.
Their game plan was to let us shoot a lot of threes, Rodriguez said. I feel like everyone was in the paint, so I guess we needed to shoot them.
This explains why Kansas State got to the free throw line seven times to the Jayhawks 21. K-State had success taking the game to shot-blocking specialist Jeff Withey. He sat a few minutes with foul trouble, which is a rarity, and he was held without a block for the first time this season. He said afterwards the game was one of the most physical this season.
Had it been more so, Withey might not have reached his double-double of 11 points and 10 rebounds or been on the floor for what was the games biggest bucket, a sweeping hook that made it 56-49 with 2:46 remaining.
The home team gets the calls, but there arent many whistle opportunities when its launching 30 threes.
I was a little surprised, Self said.
K-State approachs played into the strength of Kansas top defender, Travis Releford who chased Rodney McGruder around the floor throughout the first half. McGruders only basket before halftime came on a transition dunk.
McGruder, a four-time Big 12 player of the week, warmed up in the second half, and the active Releford was started to fade.
He asked to come out of game, Self said. I said, No.
McGruder wound up with 13 but needed 12 shots. Shane Southwell, five of 11 from beyond the arc, helped him get 19 and he believed three more should have fallen.
But the Wildcats might have been better off if he and everybody else had taken fewer from deep and attacked the basket. K-State might have gotten the calls, made the free throws, got the Jayhawks in foul trouble, and kept Bramlages noise level at jet engine levels throughout the evening.