LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP)—The play of the night could turn out to be the play of the year for No. 2 Kansas—no matter how far the Jayhawks go this season.
Even after Wayne Simien’s 20 points led five players in double figures in a 93-74 victory Thursday night over TCU, the Jayhawks were still shaking their heads and laughing about the play with 5:11 left.
With the Jayhawks holding a 13-point lead, Christian Moody took a pass from Simien under the basket and perfectly fired a blind one-handed pass over his head to a surprised J.R. Giddens on the wing.
Giddens then dropped in a 3-pointer that brought a roar from the sellout crowd and put Kansas on top 77-61.
“I thought, `Man, that was crazy,”’ said Giddens, who had 13 points. “I was real surprised. Then I figured I’d better hit the 3. You’ve got to finish a beautiful play like that.”
Simien expected Moody—a walk-on starter who finished with 10 points and 10 rebounds for his first double-double—to lay the ball in himself.
“As soon as I saw Wayne throw me the ball, I saw J.R.’s man help off on me,” Moody said. “I threw it and just hoped it was in the right spot.”
The play happened right in front of the Kansas bench and even brought a big smile from coach Bill Self.
“He said it was a great pass,” Moody said. “Fortunately, he didn’t catch it.”
Said Self, “That could be a top 10 nominee. Who would have thought Moody would have been our nominee?”
The Jayhawks (5-0) finally pulled away in the second half against the Horned Frogs (5-3) and Neil Dougherty, who became one of the few visiting head coaches to get a big ovation in Allen Fieldhouse. Dougherty, a popular assistant for seven years under Roy Williams, got a hand when he was introduced before the game.
A native of nearby Leavenworth, Kan., Dougherty also played a key role in recruiting the Jayhawks’ deep and talented senior class—and they all embraced him moments after the game.
“The first time I was here, they were all baby Jayhawks,” Dougherty said. “But they don’t look like that any more. They separated themselves from us.”
Dougherty’s parents and two brothers were at the game along with a host of other friends and relatives.
“He’s part of the history. He’s part of this family even though he’s at TCU now,” said Aaron Miles, who had 10 points and seven assists. “That’s why people showed love to him.”
Nile Murry had 20 points for TCU, although he was hampered by foul problems much of the second half. Corey Santee had 14.
Chudi Chinweze, TCU’s 6-foot-7 junior, landed awkwardly on the floor with 3:08 left and injured his left knee. Play was stopped for several minutes while he was helped into the locker room. He finished with 10 points.
“It is a pretty serious knee injury,” Dougherty said. “I can’t tell you more than that, but he will be on the plane home where the doctors will look at him immediately.”
Simien also had nine rebounds, leaving him one short of his fifth straight double-double.
Langford, the Jayhawks’ best shooter lately, had nine points in the first half but went to the bench with his third foul at the 4:53 mark and finished with 17 points.
The Horned Frogs, quicker than any other team Kansas played to date, had a hot hand early and led by as many as four while going for their second victory in 46 tries over a ranked team on the road. But the Jayhawks, led by Simien and Langford, finally got untracked for an 11-0 run and coasted into halftime with a 47-37 lead.
Simien scored four points in the stretch, capped by Langford’s long 3-pointer for a 34-27 lead with 5:20 left.
“Moody is a great complement to Simien,” Dougherty said. “Simien could be so much better if Moody can play like that.”