Kansas crushes Texas on Chalmers’ night

It was a special night in the Fieldhouse with Mario Chalmers’ number rising into the rafters.

The arena showed off a blend of old school and new in Kansas’ 73-47 victory over Texas.

Chalmers walked onto Naismith court at halftime like former players before him and gave a well-thought out speech to the sellout crowd just after the cord had been pulled to reveal his jersey.

George Mullinix/KANSAN The Jayhawks were all smiles Saturday as they cruised past Texas 73-47.

George Mullinix/KANSAN
The Jayhawks were all smiles Saturday as they cruised past Texas 73-47.

During the game videos blared on the board hanging over the court with booming sounds blasting out of the speakers exciting the student section and possibly the recruits sitting in the stands.

And for the most part the contest on the floor did not match the intensity surrounding it. Kansas cruised to a comfortable lead thanks to its defense and the Longhorns inability to knock down open shots.

That all changed when freshman guard Ben McLemore made like a whirling dervish with his 360 dunk with 4:11 remaining raising the Kansas fans out of their seats before driving home for the night.

“I didn’t think he was going to try to do that,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “He slowed down to go off to and I was like what is he doing and then he did it.”

Although McLemore’s highlight slam rivaled the performances of the pros in the slam-dunk competition, the Jayhawks much improved play by senior Elijah Johnson kept Kansas in the free flowing momentum it showed against Kansas State on Monday.

“When you’re having fun you don’t have to listen to the scouting report,” Johnson said. “When you’re having fun you don’t have to know the plays. When you’re having fun you don’t have to know nothing. You just have to go out there and play and that’s what were doing right now we’re just playing.”

Johnson had one of his better nights in recent weeks scoring with 13 points while also grabbing five boards and dishing out three assists. The most important number for Johnson on the night was turnovers where he managed just one.

What also might have helped Johnson was the return of Chalmers and the other current and former NBA players in town because of All-Star weekend.

Still Johnson knows he can rely on all his former teammates as he went through his struggles.

“Mario doesn’t have to be hear to talk,” Johnson said. “He’ll text me and let me know what they’re thinking. I fell like having all those guys around brought energy. It just comes along with it. It’s a good feeling that shoots through your body.”

Another milestone moment reached tonight for Kansas came when senior center Jeff Withey surpassed Texas’ Chris Mihm for the Big 12 blocks record with the 265th block of his career.

“I put a lot of hard work into getting it,” Withey said. “I have a lot more games to play so hopefully I can add something to it and make sure it doesn’t get touched for 20-something years.”

Withey also put together his ninth double-double of the season with 15 points and 11 rebounds to go along with his two blocks.

The other leading scorer for the Jayhawks was senior Travis Releford who knocked down four of his five three point attempts on the night while also helping to lead the team to one of the better defensive efforts of the season.

The Longhorns made 12 shots and shot 21.8 percent for the night.

“It was one of those good solid games, nothing special, but one of those game we are happy get a win,” Self said.

Now the Jayhawks focus turns to a crucial matchup against Oklahoma State on Wednesday night, a game where their best effort will be needed to avenge their lone home loss of the season.

“We put ourselves in a very tough position knowing there’s very little margin for error, but the guys usually respond favorably when the stage is pretty bright,” Self said.

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  • Updated Feb. 17, 2013 at 11:53 pm