Jan. 29, 2005
LAWRENCE, Kan. — "Rock Chalk Jayhawk" was heard loud and clear in Lawrence on Saturday night.
Seventh-ranked Kansas beat No. 13 Texas 90-65. I have seen the Jayhawks play often this season, in person and on television, and this was by far their best performance. When I walked into Phog Allen Fieldhouse, which is one of the best environments in all of college basketball, I could feel that Kansas was ready to play.
Remember, the Longhorns had only one loss by more than four points all season before Saturday night, an 11-point setback at Texas A&M. Texas is not Cupcake City, baby — the Longhorns lost to Wake Forest by just 1, Iowa by 2 and Oklahoma by 4.
The Jayhawks have really responded after being blown out at Villanova last week.
Coach Rick Barnes' Longhorns can flat-out play, though it's obvious this is not the same team with P.J. Tucker (academics) and LaMarcus Aldridge (hip injury) on the sidelines. Tucker will not play again this season.
The senior leadership of Kansas made the difference. Wayne Simien got the ball in good position on offense and converted, scoring a season-high 27 (his previous high of 25 was in the season opener against Vermont). The "Big Dub" was on fire early, setting the tone for the Jayhawks by scoring 14 big points in the first half. Keith Langford made his driving, slashing moves to the basket and scored 17.
Aaron Miles, a member of my All-Velcro defensive team — along with Marquette's Travis Diener, North Carolina's Jackie Manuel, Illinois' Luther Head and Duke's Shelden Williams — did a great job with his on-the-ball defense. His intensity in slowing down Texas diaper dandy Daniel Gibson was a key factor. Miles also hit a couple of early trifectas and did a great job setting up his teammates (eight assists, one turnover).
Coach Bill Self's Jayhawks have really responded after being blown out at Villanova last week. First came a win at Baylor, followed by this brilliant performance against the Longhorns. Kansas got its wake-up call and now is looking like the team I thought would end up in St. Louis at the Final Four.
The atmosphere at Allen Fieldhouse was simply awesome with a capital A, baby! I really had a great time there, and the fans were special. From GameDay to the game, the enthusiasm of the Jayhawks' fans stood out.
Now I get to look forward to an incredible week — Illinois at Michigan State at the Izzone on Tuesday (ESPN, 7 p.m. ET), Duke at Wake Forest on Wednesday (ESPN, 9 p.m. ET) and the Saturday night College GameDay special with Notre Dame at Syracuse (ESPN, 9 p.m. ET). The Carrier Dome should be rocking and rolling.
I can't wait, baby — I have the best seat in the house, I get paid for it and I haven't lost a game in 26 years!
Dick Vitale coached the Pistons and the University of Detroit before broadcasting ESPN's first college basketball game in 1979. Send a question to Vitale for possible use on ESPNEWS.