LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP)—As demanding as many Kansas fans tend to be, even they didn’t expect these youthful Jayhawks to be this good this fast.
Nevertheless, Sherron Collins, Cole Aldrich and their merry band of young overachievers seemed to declare an official end to their supposed transition season on Sunday with a convincing 90-65 trouncing of No. 11 Missouri.
If they keep winning, a No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament does not seem out of reach for the 15th-ranked Jayhawks. With a game Wednesday night at Texas Tech and a regular-season finale at home on Saturday against Texas, they stand on the cusp of a fifth straight Big 12 title even after every starter from last year’s national championship team made the jump to the NBA.
“We are better than everyone thought we would be,” Collins said after scoring 25 points and keying an early 18-1 run against the Tigers. “To me, it’s not surprising. That’s what you expect at Kansas.”
Leo Lyons had 20 points and DeMarre Carroll had 16 for Missouri (24-5, 11-3), which had won seven in a row and exceeded last year’s victory total by eight games. Missouri faces another huge challenge on Wednesday night at home against No. 3 Oklahoma.
“I thought we came out of the gate pretty tentative,” said Carroll. “We have a lot of basketball left this season, so we can’t dwell on this loss. We have a quick turnaround with Oklahoma on Wednesday.”
The Jayhawks let a 14-point lead slip away in a 62-60 loss at Missouri last month. But this time, they had an answer for every Missouri surge.
“I’m falling in love with this team,” said coach Bill Self. “They try hard and they’re getting more and more aggressive all the time.”
Aldrich had 19 points and 14 rebounds in the surprisingly lopsided win.
“Today was just one of those days that went well for us,” said Collins, who also had six assists and five rebounds. “We had a tick in our ear after what happened in Columbia.”
It was Kansas’ 40th straight victory in their beloved Allen Fieldhouse, the longest current streak in the nation.
Missouri was leading 4-3 when Markieff Morris had two buckets to ignite the 18-1 run as Missouri, one of the nation’s highest-scoring teams, went more than 4 minutes without scoring. The Jayhawks seized a commanding 21-5 advantage en route to a 45-19 halftime bulge.
“We missed a lot of easy shots early in the game,” said Tigers coach Mike Anderson. “We shot 20 percent in the first half and made eight field goals. That is not typical of our team.”
No. 6 Louisville 62, No. 8 Marquette 58
At Louisville, Ky., Andre McGee scored a season-high 16 points and Terrence Williams had 14 as the sixth-ranked Cardinals kept alive their hopes for a Big East title.
Louisville (23-5, 14-2) has won five straight games.
Wesley Matthews led the Golden Eagles (23-6, 12-4) with 19 points.
No. 9 Michigan State 74, No. 20 Illinois, 66
At Champaign, Ill., Kalin Lucas scored 18 points to help the ninth-ranked Spartans win the Big Ten regular-season championship.
Raymar Morgan added 14 points and Delvon Roe had 10 for Michigan State (23-5, 13-3).
Jeff Jordan’s steal and layup tied it at 58 for Illinois (23-7, 11-6) with just over seven minutes to play, but Michigan State regained the lead and won coach Tom Izzo his fifth conference title in 13 seasons with the Spartans.