It’s been a little more than a year since Kansas lost a regular-season, non-conference game. That loss came against DePaul.
The third-ranked Jayhawks haven’t forgotten, and they look to avenge that defeat when they meet the Blue Demons on Saturday afternoon at Allen Fieldhouse.
The image of last season’s road loss to DePaul still appears fresh in the minds of the veteran Jayhawks (8-0), who return four starters and four key reserves from that team.
Having already lost to unheralded Oral Roberts at home in the second game of the 2006-07 season, then-No. 5 Kansas blew a 14-point lead and the Blue Demons used a late 14-0 run to pull off a 64-47 upset last Dec. 2. It was the Jayhawks’ first loss in eight meetings with DePaul.
“Everything carries over to the next year,” said senior Darnell Jackson, who had 17 points and nine rebounds in Kansas’ 85-47 win over Eastern Washington on Wednesday. “The loss to DePaul, we think about that. We just have to go out there and play and when the time comes we know we have to go out there and execute.”
While that loss dropped the Jayhawks to 6-2, it also seemed to provide a spark. Kansas lost just twice more in the regular season and won the Big 12 title before losing to UCLA in the regional finals of the NCAA tournament.
“Even though we played miserably (at DePaul) last year, we had total control of the game with four minutes left and let it get away,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “That can’t happen. It was a positive for us, because our guys rallied around each other after that game, but it was a tough lesson. Hopefully we will perform a lot better on Saturday.”
The Jayhawks look to improve to 9-0 for the first time since winning their first 14 games of the 2004-05 season, while trying to extend their regular-season winning streak over non-conference opponents to 16 games.
Kansas had little trouble in Wednesday’s victory, holding its third straight opponent to 55 points or less. The Jayhawks are allowing 58.6 points per game this season.
Forward Darrell Arthur added 15 points and six rebounds for Kansas, which used its height advantage to outscore Eastern Washington 44-8 in the paint and record a season-high 48 rebounds.
“We were just trying to get it in quick and pound them down low,” said Arthur, who had 10 points versus DePaul last season. “Coach has been putting the emphasis on us getting the ball in the post.”
Kansas guard Mario Chalmers had six points, six steals and eight assists Wednesday after scoring a team-high 20 points in a 59-55 win over then-No. 22 Southern California on Dec. 2. Chalmers led the Jayhawks with 15 points against DePaul last season.
Both of the Blue Demons’ top scorers from that game, Sammy Mejia and Wilson Chandler, were selected in June’s NBA draft. Their departures led to DePaul being picked to finish 11th in the 16-team Big East.
The Blue Demons (2-2) return to action after an 85-70 home win over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on Nov. 28.
Senior guard Draelon Burns scored 32 points for the second straight game and set a school record by going 8-for-8 from 3-point range. Burns, who averages a team-leading 18.8 points, scored 32 in DePaul’s 96-93 home loss to North Carolina A&T on Nov. 24.
Burns had nine points in the win over Kansas and is DePaul’s top returning scorer from last season’s 20-14 team that reached the NIT quarterfinals.
DePaul hits the road for the second time Saturday after falling 74-62 at Creighton to open the season on Nov. 9. It’s also the first game versus a ranked opponent for the Blue Demons, who have won two of their last three contests against Top 25 teams.