LAWRENCE, Kan. - After seven previous games, Kansas' inclusion in the Top Ten might have been debatable among a few college hoops devotees. After game eight, let the debate cease; no questions will be asked by the Colorado Buffaloes.
Yes, the Jayhawks belong.
No. 9 KU rocked, rolled and romped over CU on Saturday in historic Allen Fieldhouse, burying the Buffs 90-54 in a beatdown that was reminiscent of darker times in a former conference for the visitors.
"That was an old fashioned ass-whipping, that's what that was . . . there's no other way to put it and no excuses," said CU coach Tad Boyle, a Kansas alum (1985) who didn't have a welcome-mat type of welcome in mind when his alma mater and current school scheduled a two-game, home-and-home series. The Jayhawks visit Boulder next season.
Continued Boyle: "Kansas just came out and manhandled us from start to finish and there wasn't a lot we could do about it. Obviously, I'm disappointed in our performance but I also realize we played a hell of a team in a heck of an environment."
Saturday's loss was Boyle's worst at CU and the school's worst since an 84-46 defeat by Air Force in the 2006-07 season under Jeff Bzdelik. The Buffs also lost to the Jayhawks twice that season by 29 and 28 points when both schools were in the Big 12 Conference.
Boyle remained winless (0-4) against his alma mater while CU, dropping to 7-2, lost in Lawrence for the 29th consecutive time. The series stands at a lopsided 123-39 in KU's favor, including a nasty 62-7 edge in the Jayhawks' raucous 16,300-seat home. CU last won here (75-74) on Feb. 10, 1983, when Boyle was a KU sophomore.
The Buffs wanted to silence the crowd early, but they fell behind on the game's first possession and never caught up. Thus, the Allen Fieldhouse faithful was never shut up - or even slightly muffled. KU, improving to 7-1 and winning its 26th consecutive home game, led by 21 points at the half then came out with just as much juice in the second half with a 7-0 run. The Jayhawks went up by as many as 42 before the final buzzer called them off.
"It's not like (the Buffs) wanted to roll over and die, but Kansas just came out and took our heart," Boyle said, adding that the Buffs' game plan was to "clog the paint, take away transition baskets (and) make them beat us with threes. We felt like that's the way to beat Kansas. We didn't do a very good job of it."
Statistics sometimes can lie, but these don't: The Jayhawks outscored the Buffs 46-26 in the paint, got 20 fast-break points to CU's 12 and scored 16 second-chance points to the Buffs' six. KU's bench won that battle 21-8, and the Buffs' 54 points was their lowest output of the season. CU's season-high 18 turnovers - a dozen of them in the first half - led to 26 KU points.
But it was on the defensive end, said sophomore point guard Spencer Dinwiddie, that the Buffs' nightmare began and ended: "We didn't show any resolve defensively. Like I was telling the team, with 54 points you can win a game - but not if you let the other team score 90. We're not that explosively offensively. That's just our team. Can we score 80 and compete and run with people? Yeah. But when you let a team score 90 you've obviously done a lot of things wrong defensively. That's all our problems."
After averaging 25.2 points in the last three games and scoring a career-high 29 in his last outing, Dinwiddie managed only four on Saturday. He injured an ankle early in the first half, went to the locker room for a re-taping and returned. But he clearly was not as efficient as he had been.
Said Boyle: "Spencer wasn't himself the rest of the game. Maybe I should have played him, maybe I shouldn't . . . I don't know. He wanted to play and he's pretty important to us. Without Spencer we're a different team."
Another Boyle observation: It's obvious now that the Buffs have work to do to become a better road team. This season's only other loss was at Wyoming a week earlier; their next game is at Fresno State on Wednesday night.
"Right now, let's make no mistake about it, the Colorado Buffaloes are not a good road team," Boyle said. "That's my fault and I've got to figure out what we have to do to become a better road team. We're a pretty good home team and on neutral courts we can compete. But in other people's buildings we're not very good."
CU's bright spot Saturday was freshman post Josh Scott, who scored 19 points. His only teammate in double figures was sophomore guard Askia Booker, who had 15 points after slipping to six in each of the past two games. Junior Andre Roberson saw his string of four consecutive double-doubles end; he grabbed 11 rebounds but managed only eight points.
Dinwiddie said the 6-10 Scott "took it to" Jeff Withey, KU's 7-0 senior center who scored eight points and collected seven rebounds but blocked five shots. (His 5.71 blocks per game led the NCAA.) Dinwiddie said Scott took the matchup with Withey "as a personal challenge, He did his thing for the most part, which maybe was the lone bright spot of the game. I'm proud of Josh."
Scott, however, said he would have been prouder of leaving Lawrence with a win: "It doesn't matter if I played well or not, we still lost. We got killed. We need to improve and learn from this. I learned from it; we're going to get better."
KU had four players in double figures, topped by Ben McLemore's 24. He had 17 in the first half as the Jayhawks surged to their 21-point lead at the break, which brought the kind of score the Buffs had experienced in their last game. But this time they were on the other side of it - the dark side.
KU led 43-22, pretty much the opposite of how CU had started on Wednesday night in rolling to a 20-point halftime lead in its win against Colorado State. The Jayhawks' 43 points were the most allowed in a first half by CU this season, while the Buffs' 22 points were their lowest first-half total thus far.
How best to describe the Buffs' start? Try slow and sloppy. Before the game was 4 minutes old, they had committed four of their 12 first-half turnovers and trailed 14-3. The Jayhawks converted those dozen turnovers into 22 of their first-half points while committing only two errors themselves. They ended the game with 13 errors, only five of them committed by the five starters.
From the opening tip, the KU faithful were in full voice and their team in total command. But, noted Dinwiddie, "The crowd doesn't make you play bad defense . . . we just broke apart when they made that (early) run. A lot of that has to fall on me and 'Dre (Andre Roberson) and 'Ski' and 'Sab's (Sabatino Chen) shoulders because we're the leaders of the team.
"Our job is to come together and play defense and get some semblance of momentum going. You've got to band together as brothers and we don't do that right now."
At the 16:16 mark, Dinwiddie went down with his ankle injury, went to the locker room and didn't get back on the court until 10:08 remained before intermission. He scored immediately, hitting a jumper from the left wing, but those were his only two points of the half.
His lone first-half basket made the score 29-13 and ignited a 7-0 run that brought the Buffs to within 29-18. The Jayhawks might have sensed a slight stirring - and it didn't please them. A 9-0 run followed, sending KU up by 20 (38-18) with 4 minutes left in the half.
Scott scored four of his team-high 11 first-half points in the final 31/2 minutes, but down by 21, the Buffs had an uphill climb facing them in the final 20 minutes. And rather than gaining a foothold to open the second half, CU's slippage continued. KU opened with a 7-0 run, went up by 27 (49-22) and elicited a timeout by Boyle with 18:07 to play.
"They came out ready to play and made plays that we didn't make," Dinwiddie said of the Jayhawks' intense second-half start. "We didn't stop them. I know I'm going to sound like a broken record, but it really all comes down to defense . . . they were dunking on us. There really isn't that much else to say."
Boyle's timeout didn't help. The Jayhawks got another McLemore basket and led by 29 (51-22) before Booker finally got CU's first second-half points on a layup. But by then, the afternoon's tone had been established - and it wasn't a pretty one for the visitors.
The Buffs would trail by 42 before it was officially over.
"We have to learn from it and get better and we will," Boyle said. "We've got young guys and hopefully they grew up a little and understand how far our program has to go. We've got a long ways to go, but we're not as bad as we played today. That's what's disappointing; I'm most disappointed in just our competitiveness."
Do the Jayhawks deserve a Top Ten ranking? Unquestionably, said Dinwiddie: "They're Top Ten for a reason - a good program with good players. I'm taking nothing away from them."
How could he? The Jayhawks' 36-point win simply wouldn't allow it.