Published November 15, 2012
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Freshman Farad Cobb had a vision before Tuesday night's game.
He saw himself stepping back inside venerable Allen Fieldhouse, looking up at the rim and making a 3-pointer over some unsuspecting defender from No. 7 Kansas.
His vision proved prophetic, and then he added six more to set a freshman record for Chattanooga, which gave the Jayhawks all they could handle before falling short, 69-55.
Behind 21 points from Cobb, the Mocs held the lead well into the second half, but the offense eventually stalled and the defense failed to contain the Jayhawks' theatrical dunks.
"It was a bigger crowd, and I love playing in front of a lot of people, so I just decided to go out there and play," Cobb said. "If I can get the first one to go in, I'm going to shoot another one, and I kept it going. I didn't feel like I would miss as long as I got a clean look."
The good looks finally ended in the second half, when the Jayhawks clamped down. They managed a 27-4 run over more than 12 minutes to rally from a 36-28 deficit.
"He threw in some stuff, and they threw in three or four with under 5 on the shot clock that were hard shots," said Kansas coach Bill Self, who burned just about all his first-half timeouts trying to slow Cobb. "That was the best we played the second half, because that's a good team."
Freshman guard Ben McLemore had 25 points and eight rebounds, Elijah Johnson added 18 points and Jeff Withey finished with 11 points and 10 rebounds for the Jayhawks (2-1), who were coming off a loss Tuesday night to Michigan State.
Withey began their second-half comeback Tuesday night with a basket inside, Johnson ripped a 3-pointer and McLemore slammed down the first of back-to-back highlight-reel dunks. Kansas merely had to go through the motions down the stretch to wrap up the win.
"The first half just for all of us wasn't too good," Withey said. "We came out really flat. In the second half, coach challenged the seniors to step up, bring more energy."
Kansas managed to extend the nation's third-longest home-court winning streak to 25 games despite having more turnovers (9) than field goals (8) in the waning minutes of the first half.
That's when things were still tenuous for the Jayhawks.
And when Cobb couldn't miss.
The freshman guard made his first 3-pointer in the opening minutes, and then after a miss, connected on five straight to finish off the half. Two of them came on consecutive possessions just before the break that helped lift Chattanooga (1-1) to a 36-28 lead.
It was the Jayhawks' largest deficit at home to a non-conference opponent since 2005.
Chattanooga stayed hot early in the second half, getting 3-pointers from Mason and Ronrico White to extend the lead to 42-30. The Mocs were 10 of 16 from beyond the arc at that point.
That's when Kansas finally buckled down on defense, let loose on offense, and gave another packed crowd inside Allen Fieldhouse a reason to clamber onto its feet.
McLemore's first dunk during the surge prompted a timeout by Shulman. After the Jayhawks forced a shot-clock violation when the game resumed, McLemore hopped on his pogo stick along the baseline and skied to grab a lob by Johnson for another dunk.
McLemore was on the giving end on the next possession, tossing up the pass for Releford to finish off a dunk, and Shulman frantically called another timeout.
Johnson's 3-pointer finally gave Kansas a 44-43 lead, its first since it was 2-0. McLemore added a breakaway dunk, Naadir Tharpe buried a 3, and Johnson connected with McLemore again for an alley-oop dunk. By the time Withey took a feed from McLemore for a dunk and then added a foul shot, the Jayhawks had suddenly built a 57-46 lead.
The Jayhawks cruised down the stretch from there, outscoring the Mocs 41-19 in the second half. They only committed four turnovers after the break.
"They just locked us up defensively," Shulman said. "They came back and made some shots. Once you make a shot, it kind of changes how everything looks."