BOULDER, Colo. (AP)—One benching did the trick, another two did no good at all.
Sasha Kaun took his punishment to heart in the ninth-ranked Kansas Jayhawks’ 75-46 rout of Colorado, getting 10 points and eight rebounds after starting the second half on the bench Wednesday night.
Kaun has just one rebound in six first-half minutes to earn a seat.
“At that point I wasn’t the best big man on the court, so I understand,” Kaun said. “Maybe not the right mind-set, things just didn’t go well, it’s just one of those days. Coach just said we need you to play, we need you to step up and make some plays.”
So, he did, and the Jayhawks (22-4, 9-2) moved into a first-place tie with Texas A&M atop the Big 12 standings.
“What was my motivation? Well, he was wasn’t playing very well, and we need Sasha to play better,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “He wasn’t playing and not going after balls, so I just thought it would be good for him to just sit over there.
“And I thought he played about as well as anybody in the game in the second half.”
Colorado coach Ricardo Patton fell to 1-25 against Kansas and didn’t start his top two scorers, junior Richard Roby and freshman Xavier Silas. Patton suggested afterward that their bad attitudes were the reason.
Roby scored seven points and Silas had 11, shooting a combined 6-for-22 from the floor for the Buffs (6-15, 2-9).
Roby, who scored 30 on the Jayhawks in January, had started every game of his three-year career except for senior day his first two seasons, and Silas had started 16 straight games.
“I just decided that I’m not going to reward poor attitude, I’m going to teach the right lessons. The right lessons are maybe the next guy who coaches this team, they will be ready to play for that guy,” said Patton, who is stepping down at season’s end.
“But right now we’re going to do what’s right and when you reward poor attitude, that is not doing what’s right.”
Unlike Kaun, the benched Buffs had no conversation with their coach about not starting.
“No, he just wrote the starters down on the board and my name wasn’t up there,” Roby said.
Roby and Silas weren’t the only ones who had a tough night; the Buffs shot just 27 percent and their 15 field goals was their lowest total in six years.
“We just put in a new offense a couple of days ago,” Roby said. “Most teams know their offense is set in the preseason. We’re still learning it. That’s probably why we shot a bad percentage. Guys didn’t really know where to go half the time.”
The Buffs wanted to isolate Roby more often this season after he bypassed the NBA draft last summer, but he’s still seeing an abundance of double-teams.
“I came back for a reason. To better myself because I know I could have been drafted last year, somewhere,” Roby said. “After going to the workouts and going against some of the guys that were first round, I knew I was better than them. And I knew I could come back and be better.
“But I needed a lot of help from the coaches, because I knew I was going to be a focal point of everybody’s defense and people were going to be gunning for me,” he added. “That was difficult for me … now guy’s eyes light up when they see me.”
Roby entered at the first timeout but managed just three points in the first half, and Silas had just one first-half bucket as Kansas took a 38-22 lead into the locker room.
The Buffs are 0-23 under Patton when trailing at the half against a ranked opponent.
Russell Robinson led a balanced Jayhawks offense with 14 points and Darrell Arthur added 11.
Kaun’s high-flying dunk highlighted a 10-2 run that pushed the Jayhawks’ lead to 20 with 13 minutes remaining, and his three-point play with 4:28 left gave the Jayhawks a 67-40 lead.
Soon, he took a seat again, this time to watch the reserves finish off the rout.