LINCOLN, Neb. (AP)—Nebraska fans were urged to show up early and make Monday night’s game against sixth-ranked Kansas a “red out.”
It turned out to be a blowout.
The Jayhawks held Nebraska scoreless for almost 14 minutes in the first half, using a 27-0 run to fuel a 76-56 victory.
Kansas owns the record for most lopsided win by a Nebraska opponent—102-46 in 1958—and it looked as if the Jayhawks would threaten that 56-point margin after going up 39-6.
As the game got further out of hand, fans began to sarcastically cheer Kansas’ missed shots and Nebraska’s rebounds. When Jay-R Strowbridge’s layup ended a scoring drought that lasted nearly 14 minutes, much of the crowd rose to cheer the occasion.
“We didn’t plan to come and blow them out,” said Brandon Rush, who led the Jayhawks with 20 points. “They weren’t making no shots, and our shots were falling. The first 17 minutes the crowd was quiet. They were happy when they made a shot at the end. It was kind of funny.”
The Jayhawks (19-3, 6-1 Big 12) won for the 13th time in 14 games. Their 16th win in 17 meetings with Nebraska gave them a half-game lead over Texas A&M and Texas in the conference. The Huskers (12-8, 1-5) lost their third straight.
Nebraska’s first appearance in 11 years on ESPN’s “Big Monday” had fans in a partying mood. The school’s athletic marketing department encouraged them to show up early and to wear their red.
The Jayhawks took the crowd right out of the game.
Julian Wright, who had 13 of his 17 points in the first half, scored the first eight for Kansas. Then Rush hit two quick 3s to break open a 12-6 game and start the decisive run.
“That’s about as well as you can execute,” KU coach Bill Self said. “That’s about the best 17 minutes a team can play. We didn’t play as well after the first 17-18 minutes. We kind of lost focus.”
Ryan Anderson made six 3-pointers and led Nebraska with 19 points. There were no other highlights for the Huskers, who managed only one offensive rebound and were outrebounded 47-21.
“I thought we were ready to play someone like that. The fact of the matter is, we were scared,” first-year Nebraska coach Doc Sadler said. “I’ve never had a team that was scared. I don’t know if it was because it was on TV or what it was.”
Nebraska played KU on even terms much of the second half. The Huskers, who trailed by 35 points in the first half, got the deficit down to 20 in the final minute.
Aleks Maric, Nebraska’s season scoring leader, missed his only two shots of the first half and was held to nine points.
“We wanted to take them out early,” Rush said. “We wanted to take the head off by attacking Aleks, which we did.”
Maric, averaging 17.6 points, rarely got the ball as the Jayhawks closed down passing lanes from the perimeter.
“They missed some shots, but I thought our defense was outstanding,” Self said. “We did a lot of things well.”
Nebraska shot 39.1 percent from the field, becoming the 28th straight Kansas opponent to shoot under 50 percent.
Since losing 69-64 at Texas Tech on Jan. 20, the Jayhawks have beaten Baylor, Colorado and Nebraska by an average of 23 points.
“Hopefully we’re maturing and becoming a better basketball team,” Self said. “We talk about getting into February, when it’s time to play your best.”