Ryan Robertson was the steady hand and Kenny Gregory the flash as No. 8 Kansas awoke in the second half to protect its homecourt winning streak against Gonzaga Friday.
Robertson, a senior,
"That may be the biggest or the most impressive 11-point game Ryan Robertson has ever had," Kansas coach Roy Williams said. "He was tremendous defensively. He had two blocks on guys he was guarding."
Robertson hit a 3-pointer, blocked Gonzaga's leading scorer Matt Santangelo on the other end and fed Gregory for a dunk on a play that seemed to turn the corner for Kansas in the second half.
"I would be lying if I didn't say the thought (of losing) didn't creep into my mind tonight," Robertson said. "Coach told us we were playing tight and referred to the streak and all the things that have happened in the past. I think that motivated us in the second half."
The play with Gregory, who had 18 points, gave Kansas its first lead of the second half with about 10 minutes to play.
"He gave us an emotional lift," Gregory said. "We were on a little run at the time. I wouldn't say there was one guy who took charge. It was more of a team effort. We took a different approach in the second half. We were a lot more aggressive."
Santangelo scored 24 points, but just five in the second half.
"They went to the trap in the second half and that forced the ball out of my hands and forced us into some situations," Santangelo said. "That led to the physicl thing of us maybe getting tired and that led to the mental things and then to the other things. It was that trading of roles. They became the aggressors and we became the ones just trying to get out of there with our heads."
Eric Chenowith also had 18 points for Kansas and Nick Bradford, forced into the role of power forward because of a foot injury to T.J. Pugh, had 16.
Gonzaga led throughout the first half, but suddenly went cold and missed five straight field goal attempts as Kansas surged ahead midway through the second half.
The Bulldogs were also in foul trouble and lost center Jeremy Eaton with 7:15 to play.
Kansas led 63-57 when Lester Earl fought for a loose ball after a missed shot by Bradford and put it back. Robertson followed with a driving layup for a 65-57 lead with 5:17 left.
Gregory scored with 3 seconds left on the shot clock to make it 67-57 with 4:15 remaining.
The Bulldogs consistently beat Kansas down the court in the first half to keep the Jayhawks out of their transition game and led 32-28 at the half. The Jayhawks, which last trailed at the half Dec. 10 against UMass 35-32 in a game they eventually won 73-71, were ineffective in their halfcourt offense and shot just 35 percent in the half.
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