LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP)—Maybe it’s the crowd. Maybe it’s the history. Maybe it’s the standout athletes Bill Self brings in year after year.
There’s just something about 56-year-old Allen Fieldhouse that seems to pour energy and determination into every Kansas team that passes through. With a hard-fought, come-from-behind 63-60 victory over Nebraska on Saturday, the third-ranked Jayhawks ran their school-record home court winning streak to 69 games in a row and made Self 124-6 on his friendly home court.
“I don’t know what it is,” said senior guard Tyrel Reed, who had 16 points and hit a critical free throw in the final seconds. “I guess you could call it magic. The aura of Allen Fieldhouse. Throughout my years I’ve seen some runs and some plays that you don’t see in any other arena.”
Kansas (17-0, 2-0 Big 12), which has dominated Nebraska throughout the decades and came in with a 15-game winning streak over the Huskers, was thoroughly outplayed in a ragged first half and fell behind by 10 points quickly after intermission.
But slowly at first, and then more quickly, the Jayhawks closed the gap. Marcus Morris’ dunk off a rebound by his twin, Markieff, finally put the Jayhawks ahead to stay with a dunk that made it 52-50.
Marcus Morris had 16 points and 11 rebounds and Reed also scored 16 as the Jayhawks made it 16 in a row and 25 of 26 over Nebraska (13-4, 1-2).
In Allen Fieldhouse, the series stands 51-7 in favor of Kansas.
“You talk about the passion in this building—wow,” Nebraska coach Doc Sadler said. “It’s like coming to (Nebraska’s) Memorial Stadium for football.”
It was the last time Nebraska will visit Lawrence as a member of the Big 12 because the Huskers are moving to the Big Ten.
“I can tell you this, as long as I’m coaching here—I’ll be a spectator probably the next time there’s a game here,” Sadler said. “I don’t like it that much.”
Marcus Morris’ two foul shots gave the Jayhawks a 62-58 lead. After Lance Jeter drove in for a layup, Reed was quickly fouled and made one of two.
Jeter then missed a 3-pointer for Nebraska, which outrebounded Kansas 44-31.
“We came in here to win,” Nebraska center Andre Almeida said. “We’re not happy with it. It was a good game and we were close but almost isn’t good enough.”
Jeter had 13 points for Nebraska and Almeida had 10.
The Huskers set the pace from the outset, forcing the Jayhawks into a slow-down game. Dictating the tempo, swarming after every rebound and loose ball, they took a 30-25 halftime lead after outrebounding Kansas in the first half an astonishing 24-12.
The Morris twins had only four points between them in the first half. Markieff wound up with seven points and seven rebounds.
“We obviously didn’t play a lick the first 25 minutes,” Self said. “But their defense was so good. We panicked. Didn’t get really good perimeter play and then started the second half as bad as you could start it.”
The Huskers quickly went ahead 35-25 after intermission on Toney McCray’s 3-pointer and Jeter’s two free throws.
Reed and McCray swapped 3-pointers and then Kansas caught up with a 15-4 run that included back-to-back 3-pointers by Tyshawn Taylor and Reed.
In a flurry of rapid ball movement, Kansas twice kept the ball from going out of bounds before Markieff Morris whipped the ball to Reed and he canned a long 3-pointer, cutting the deficit to 42-41 and triggering a thunderous roar from a sellout crowd that had not seen the Jayhawks lose in Allen Fieldhouse since Feb. 3, 2007.
At the 11:41 mark, Markieff Morris took a short pass from Mario Little and dropped in a bucket, putting Kansas on top 43-42.
Jeter’s three-point play tied it 48-all, then Jorge Brian Diaz scored to tie it at 50.
Eshaunte Jones’ first bucket of the day turned into a four-point play when he was fouled on the shot by Marcus Morris. That cut the lead to 58-56 before Marcus soared in and tipped the ball through the bucket for Kansas.
“We played really well the last 15 minutes against a good team that guards,” Self said. “So I’m happy we won. We didn’t play extremely well. Give Nebraska the credit for being the main reason why.”