Collins scores 22 in No. 3 Kansas’ 84-72 win
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP)—Still smarting from its first loss of the season, third-ranked Kansas got all it wanted and more from Nebraska.
The Jayhawks found themselves down by double digits just three minutes into Wednesday night’s game, but they came back to put away the Cornhuskers late for an 84-72 victory.
“We played a good Nebraska team tonight that was ready to beat us and came out on top,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “It was a fun team to coach tonight. I didn’t have any fun on Sunday.”
Or Monday and Tuesday, for that matter.
KU fans, coaches and players stressed out after depleted Tennessee stunned the Jayhawks 76-68 with a squad made up of six scholarship players and three walk-ons. The Jayhawks lost their seasonlong hold on the No. 1 ranking.
Drama in the KU camp peaked Tuesday when Tyshawn Taylor told reporters that he and some of his teammates were unsure of their roles—a comment that drew Self’s ire.
The Jayhawks looked as confident as ever on Wednesday.
“I thought we were really ready to play,” Self said. “So even though we were down 12-1, it wasn’t the end of the world. And then Sherron (Collins) put us on his back. Sherron got us back to the point where it was a basketball game, and we played a lot better after that.”
Collins scored 22 points, showing his strong penetration moves throughout the second half, and the Jayhawks (15-1, 1-0 Big 12) won their conference opener for the 19th straight season.
Marcus Morris added 19 points and Taylor and Tyrel Reed 11 apiece for the Jayhawks, who shot 58 percent and made 13 of 21 3-pointers.
“My thing was to settle my teammates down. I knew we could come back,” Collins said. “No matter the situation, we’re always in position to win. I never thought they were going to win, but they played us tough.”
Brandon Richardson scored 18 points, Jorge Brian Diaz 15 and Eshaunte Jones 12 for the Huskers.
Nebraska made just three field goals over a 12-minute stretch of the second half. After shooting 56 percent in the first half, the Huskers cooled to 31 percent in the second.
“Law of averages, it’s amazing how it works,” Self said. “They missed a lot of shots in the second half they made in the first half. Fortunately, we got it inside and stayed hot.”
Kansas has won 14 straight and 23 of the last 24 meetings with Nebraska.
“You can’t get into a scoring match with Kansas,” Nebraska coach Doc Sadler said. “If they’re going to score in the 80s, you’re not going to win many games. That’s ultimately what happened. I can talk about how good we played, but the bottom line is that we didn’t get it done.”
The Jayhawks opened the second half with a 10-2 run that Morris finished with a steal and dunk, turning a 44-43 halftime deficit into a 53-46 lead.
The Huskers wouldn’t go away. Richardson’s back-to-back 3s and a baseline jumper put Nebraska up 54-53 with 13:07 left.
Kansas took over from there, going on a 22-8 spurt. The teams came out freely launching 3s. Kansas was without big man Cole Aldrich for long stretches because of foul trouble and went 9 for 14 from long range in the first half. The Huskers were 8 for 11 the first 20 minutes.
Richardson made the last 3 of the half to give the Huskers a one-point halftime lead.
The Huskers made only 3 of 10 3s the rest of the game and went a span of 8 1/2 minutes in the second half with just one field goal.
“I think we probably scored a little too easy early and started settling for quick shots,” Sadler said. “You’ve got to make those guys guard, and I don’t think we did as good a job of that as we should have.”
For a while, it looked like the 13-point-underdog Huskers would add another ‘W’ to the Big 12’s incredible home-court record of 114-1 entering Wednesday.
Buoyed by a raucous full house at the Devaney Sports Center, Nebraska jumped on the opening tip, with Diaz tapping the ball to Sek Henry in the backcourt. Henry took two steps and laid the ball in. The Huskers made their next four shots, with Ryan Anderson and Jones knocking down 3s.
By the second half, though, the Huskers had gone cold from long range and their hopes for an upset evaporated.
Fans began filing out with two minutes left, but not before New York Yankees pitcher Joba Chamberlain participated in a halfcourt shooting contest during a break. Chamberlain, who grew up in Lincoln and pitched for Nebraska, was long but straight with his two-hand push shot. The ball hit the back of the iron and bounced away.
“That was fun,” Chamberlain said. “I thought I had that.”