LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP)—An assistant coach fell ill during Detroit’s game against No. 9 Kansas Thursday night. Before the cold-shooting Jayhawks finally wrapped up a 63-43 victory over the plucky Titans, a lot of their fans were probably feeling queasy themselves.
Jon Goode’s 3-pointer with 8:55 to play got the 25-point underdog Titans within four at 41-37. The sellout crowd, expecting the blowout they usually see against unranked non-conference foes in Allen Fieldhouse, turned silent.
But from that point on, it was virtually all Kansas. Julian Wright and Russell Robinson sparked a 9-0 run that restored all the momentum and the Jayhawks (11-2) cruised to the finish.
“I think it is good to play teams with losing records sometimes to motivate our minds to come into every game with the mind-set that it is a big game,” Brandon Rush said. “I don’t think we did that tonight. But in the second half we picked it up and blew the game open.”
Wright got the decisive 9-0 surge going with a pair of quick buckets and Robinson, after Wright rebounded a Detroit miss, hit a 3-pointer that made it 50-37 with 6:02 to play.
Mario Chalmers led the Jayhawks with 22 points and Rush, who was fighting the flu, had nine points after going scoreless in the first half. Brandon Cotton had 20 for Detroit (3-9).
“I’m proud of the fight that my guys showed,” said Detroit coach Perry Watson, who did not make his players available to the media. “I mean against a team like Kansas, the way we shot the ball not worth a (darn). I thought we were able to hang in there for the most part.”
Kansas scored only seven points in the final 11:17 seconds of the first half but still led 26-16 at intermission because the Titans were shooting even more poorly. They wound up 15-for-50 for the game.
Detroit assistant coach Garland Mance became ill while sitting courtside early in the first half. Play was halted for a few minutes while vomit was cleaned off the floor and Mance went into the locker room without assistance. He did not return.
“I’ll be all right,” he said. “I think I just ate something bad. We had some barbecue in the hotel before the game. I felt sick before the game.”
Chalmers said the Jayhawks never felt in danger of losing the game.
“We never had that feeling,” he said. “We just thought we had to come back with a little run of our own there and get the score back up, and that’s what we did.”
Watson said he tried not to look ahead when Detroit cut the Kansas’ lead to four.
“You don’t give yourself those types of luxuries to think that far ahead. I just wanted our guys to keep battling,” he said. “It didn’t matter if we were down four or 40. We wanted to make sure we kept battling. Obviously, I was pleased with the way we were defending and rebounding at that part.”
The Titans got off to a terrible start. In their first 15 possessions, they had nine misses, five turnovers and one bucket.
Detroit’s Ryvon Covile, who came in averaging a double-double, was 0-for-3 with six rebounds in the first half and wound up with seven points and 10 rebounds.
In the first half, Rush and Wright combined for one point.
“Tonight was just one of those nights were the ball wouldn’t go in the hole and guys lost aggressiveness,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “We’re not going to play great all the time. That’s been pretty evident this year. But if the other team doesn’t score, you’re not going to lose very many games.”