The last time Kansas basketball opened as underdogs at home, Bill Self and the Jayhawks went on to win by 13 points against the eventual national champions. The outcome was no different yesterday when Houston traveled to Lawrence for the first-ever Big 12 meeting between the two schools.
Kansas set the pace early, leading by double digits less than halfway into the first period. The Allen Fieldhouse crowd was louder than it had been all season throughout the contest, a factor that clearly played into the final outcome. Houston trailed by as many as 20 at one point and could not dig themselves out of that hole, falling 78-65 to the Jayhawks.
Johnny Furphy continued to display his talent in the victory, scoring 17 points on 6-of-7 shooting. He grabbed eight rebounds and connected on three triples. The Cougars did not have anyone to stop Hunter Dickinson, who led the team with 20 points.
After much speculation, Kevin McCullar wound up suiting up despite missing the previous game due to a bone bruise. He shot an efficient 7-for-8 from the field, though he did turn the ball over five times. Somehow, Kansas managed to post the highest scoring outing against Houston's dominant defense all year with 18 team turnovers.
Even with ball security being a problem, the Jayhawks managed to sink 31-of-45 field goal attempts in comparison to Houston's 25-of-69 performance. UH was outrebounded 24 to 40 and outshot 36.2% to 68.9%.
With the win, KU is back atop the Big 12 along with five other schools. Winning the conference will not come easy, but the win was much-needed after dropping two of the three prior games. The Jayhawks have a quick turnaround and will face K-State in what is sure to be a hostile environment in Bramlage Coliseum this Monday.