Kansas' below-the-radar showdown with Kansas State was really the anti Syracuse-Villanova in all ways except one: the Jayhawks made just as big a statment on Wednesday night as the Orange did four nights earlier.
Motivated by the chance to wash the taste of Saturday's loss to Oklahoma State out of its mouths and get Sherron Collins a victory on senior night, Kansas rolled to an 82-65 victory over Kansas State. It was close for a little more than a half before the Jayhawks tightened up defensively, exposed their rival's suspect frontline and clinched their second straight outright Big 12 title.
It's rare for a top-five matchup between two in-state rivals to receive so little fanfare, but there were some extenuating circumstances that contributed to the Jayhawks' accomplishments getting overshadowed.
Maybe it was because Collins home finale hogged so much of the attention. Maybe it was because Duke-Maryland was such a classic. Maybe it was because ESPN didn't throw its full weight behind a game that only aired on the Internet for most of the nation.
Regardless of the reason, let's not forget Kansas took down a Kansas State team ranked fifth in the polls, in contention for a No. 1 seed and in the midst of one of the best seasons in program history.
That Kansas did it with Collins starting the night 1-for-10 from the floor qualifies as a classic glass-half-full, glass-half-empty conundrum. Either you're of the mindset that it's a great sign Kansas can beat a top-five team without Collins at his best, or you're of the mindset that the Jayhawks eventually will run into teams they cannot defeat unless Collins regains his early-season form.
As Collins stood at mid-court with a microphone in hand and tears running down his face after a fitting sendoff to one of the most successful seniors in Kansas history, he told fans, "Hopefully this wasn't my last speech in the Fieldhouse."
The way Kansas has performed this season, it may not be.
- Kansas State
- Sherron Collins
- the Jayhawks