Once again the Jayhawks came out in a bit of a fog on Friday against the Texas A&M Aggies. The Jayhawks had some things working extremely well, but at the same time they couldn't seem to get out of their own way in the first half. Careless turnovers, silly fouls and a general lack of focus at times kept Kansas from riding a hot shooting night to an easy win early. Fortunately, just as they did Thursday and just as they did against A&M in the first meeting between the two teams, Kansas would put it together down the stretch. From the 10 minute mark on, it was all Kansas and now the Jayhawks find themselves scheduled for a third battle against the Kansas State Wildcats.
Early in the game the Aggies of A&M rode a nice night shooting and a variety of mistakes from Kansas to the tune of an early 14-7 lead. Much like the first contest in College Station, this one had the makings of a nail biter from the start. After settling in Kansas would get the game back in hand, even leading at one time before taking a three point deficit into half. If you were Mark Turgeon you had to feel pretty good knowing Kansas was shooting better than 50% but still trailing.
The beginning of the second half brought more of the same. A&M keeping Kansas at arms length and a tough physical game giving Kansas trouble. All game long Kansas was looking to exploit the interior. The problem was the entry passes weren't getting to their intended destination. Either the Kansas bigs were allowing themselves to get shoved out of position or when they had great position, which happened often, they were losing the basketball. Still Kansas kept close but couldn't quite get over the hump. That was the case at least, until things got a little chippy.
The game was physical from the outset. The officials were letting the teams play and they were going at it. Kansas wasn't responding particularly well to getting shoved around, but found themselves doing just enough to stay close. At roughly the 8:10 mark, Kansas finally woke up. As the saying goes, sometimes it's better to let sleeping dogs lie, when Kansas finally took one too many punches on Friday night they bit back and turned it on. Between the 8:10 mark, down to 4:23 remaining, Kansas went on a 14-0 run to put the game out of reach. A&M would never recover and Kansas would ultimately win by a fairly comfortable margin.
Kansas didn't respond particularly well to a tournament atmosphere for their second night in a row. As they did Thursday, the start was slow and Friday Kansas was getting pushed around. Bill Self preaches toughness, defense and leadership and when push comes to shove this might have been exactly what the Jayhawks needed. Life won't be easy once the NCAA tournament starts and Saturday promises to be tough as well. Perhaps Kansas needed it's cage rattled a little and winning in the process makes it all the easier to stomach. Rock Chalk Jayhawk and it's on to the championship Saturday night.