|The Jayhawks played as if
all their New Year's wishes came true Tuesday night in a decisive
105-59 drubbing of the Penn Quakers in Allen Fieldhouse.
Struggling center Eric Chenowith had his best game of the season,
scoring 14 points on 7-of-10 shooting. Marlon London had another
strong game, hitting his first three-pointer of the season. Drew
Gooden was dominating, scoring 15 first-half points on the way to a
20-point, 9 rebound game. Luke Axtell broke out of his shooting
slump, hitting 3 of 7 three-point attempts. And, despite the
blow-out nature of the second half, the Jayhawks committed only
3 turnovers in the second half. Not a bad way at all to start
the new century.
the first half there was very little to suggest that this would be a
45-point blowout. Four minutes into the game Penn led the
Jayhawks 10-4 on three three-pointers and the Jayhawks had committed 4
turnovers. The Jayhawks looked out of synch and flat. Visions of
the close game against St. Louis five days ago were undoubtedly
floating into the minds of Jayhawk fans. The Jayhawks weren't
able to close the gap until the 11:50 mark when they tied the game
The Jayhawks didn't trail again, but were far from dominating the
rest of the half. With four minutes left in the half the
Jayhawks led by only three points, 33-30. The Jayhawks closed
with a 10-3 mini-run to push the lead to 10 points at the half, 43-33,
but there was little in the first half to suggest that the Jayhawks
would utterly dominate the Quakers the rest of the way.
Dominate the Quakers,
though, is just what the Jayhawks did in the second half. It was
as impressive a half of basketball as the Jayhawks have played all
season against legitimate competition. The Jayhawks opened the
second half with a decisive 21-2 run on the way to outscoring the
visitors 62-26 after the break. As so many of the Jayhawks' runs
have this season, the Jayhawks knock-out punch was fueled by vice-like
defense and Jeff Boschee three-pointers. Boschee knocked down
two treys in the run and Nick Bradford hit only his second bomb of the
season. In a little over five minutes the Jayhawks turned the
game from a close contest into a blow-out. The rest of the half
the Quakers simply went through the motions, and the Jayhawks
continued to score almost at will.
The Jayhawks made the game a laugher five minutes later with a 22-0
run that stretched a 71-47 lead into a 93-47 mauling.
The Jayhawks, though, did not simply go through the motions even
after getting a big lead. After committing 9 turnovers in the
first half and four in the first four minutes, the Jayhawks played
nearly flawlessly in the second half. The had only three miscues
after the break and one of those came in the closing seconds when the
guys at the end of the bench were in the game.
Five different Jayhawks
scored in double figures. Drew Gooden played an outstanding
game. He scored 20 points, tying his season high, and grabbed 9
rebounds. More impressively, 15 of his 20 points came in the
first half when the game was still a contest and the Pennsylvania
defense was making the Jayhawks work.
Chenowith's 14 points, while not the most he's scored this season,
nevertheless represent his best offensive outing of the season from
the field. He hit 7 of 10 shooting performance are the most
fieldgoals he's cashed in a game this season.
Gregory also scored 14 points on a variety of nifty shots around
the basket and Luke Axtell and Jeff Boschee each scored 11 points with
three three-pointers each. Bradford and Collison both scored 9
And, for a change, Axtell and Boschee got some help behind the
arc. Nick Bradford hit his second three-pointer of the season,
as did Nick Collison. Marlon London, who hadn't cashed one all
season, got his first in this game, as well. As a team, the
Jayhawks converted 9 of 16 three-point attempts, and that includes the
two meaningless misses by John Crider at the end of the game.
There was very little that the Jayhawks didn't do well in this
game. The Jayhawks hit 12 of 15 free throws, shot 58% from the
field, forced Penn into 20 turnovers, snagged 12 steals, and 27 of the
Jayhawks 42 fieldgoals came off an assist.
This win shouldn't be written off as a meaningless drubbing of a
bad basketball team. Penn won Cal's holiday tournament last
week, beating Cal on their home court. Penn was an NCAA tournament
team last season, and the Jayhawks struggled to beat them by only 5
points in Philadelphia last season. In Roy William's pre-game show he
said that Penn was a better team than the Princeton team that the
Jayhawks beat by only 15 points two weeks ago in Allen
Fieldhouse. Penn was clearly winded by the middle of the second
half and gave up, but this was still an impressive victroy.
Smiles and Cheers for
Cheno. The real story of this game was Eric Chenowith's
play. In the abstract, 14 points and three rebounds from a
starting center isn't particularly remarkable. Coming from Eric
in this game this season it was an important statement. Eric's
struggles this season have been well documented. He's seemed out
of synch most of the season, hasn't been able to hit even simple shots
with any regularity, has been pushed around by smaller and less
talented players and has seemed passive in the paint much of the
Five days ago against St. Louis he was benched in the second half
because of lackluster play. In the three previous games he had
only scored 14 points in total. The radio call-in shows and chat
boards have been calling for Gooden to take his starting spot, and
even Williams let it be known last week that a change in the starting
lineup was being considered.
Against St. Louis at Kemper arena Williams thought he heard a
smattering of boos directed at Chenowith, and Williams commented in
the paper that if he heard them in the Fieldhouse he would grab the
public address microphone and give the fans a piece of his mind.
Chenowith pre-empted his coach tonight and turned the potential boos
into several standing ovations. Eric played with focus
tonight. He played aggressively, working hard for loose
balls. He rediscovered his shot, nailing three shots from beyond
the free throw line. And he was aggressive on defense, swatting
three blocks in decisive fashion.
Most importantly, he smiled. Chenowith has not appeared to be
having much fun the last half-dozen games, as his slump deepened and
his confidence waned. The campus paper had called him lazy, and
his coach has noted that one of the keys to the team's success was
having Eric play up to his potential.
One game isn't enough to proclaim Eric back, but if anyone needed a
confidence boosting performance, it was Eric. Hopefully his
solid performance, pats on the back from the coach and some rousing
cheers from the fans will give him a much needed boost and will serve
as the start of his come-back.
Glancing Eastward. The cherry on the top of the Jayhawks'
cake tonight was the final score from Columbia Missouri, where
Winthrop beat the Tigers on their home court 51-46. Winthrop?!
- The Jayhawks have 1699 all-time victories.
- Jeff Boschee's first two points tonight game him 500 for his
- Max Falkenstein, Jayhawk radio network color commentator, has
now called Jayhawk games in seven different decades.
- Chenowith with 14 points tonight has 801 for his career.
- Jeff Boschee's streak of games with at least one three-pointer
is now at 35.
- Drew Gooden is second in the Big 12 in offensive rebounds.
- Boschee leads the Big 12 in three-point shooting accuracy at
better than 59%.