As the clock ticked under three minutes and the final media timeout approached, all seemed well for the Kansas Jayhawks. High flying guard Ben McLemore had just flushed a dunk off of an Elijah Johnson lob. Soon, he’d be leaving to an ovation and his night’s work would be done. But, with one cut and roll of the ankle, all had changed.
Kansas would finish off the Baylor Bears 61-44 inside a juiced Allen Fieldhouse, but it was McLemore’s rolling of his left ankle was all anyone wanted to talk about afterwards.
The injury occurred with 2:44 to play, as McLemore was driving and made a cut, when his ankle rolled. he immediately fell to the floor and slammed the court in frustration before being helped to the locker room with some assistance.
“My heart dropped,” Johnson said. “You see somebody who works as hard as Ben, you don’t want to see something bad happen to him. He’s all right. He panicked more than anything which happens a lot of times.”
The one positive about the injury, is that it appears to be just a minor sprain. Jayhawks coach Bill Self and his staff feel pretty confident about his recovery and hope to have him ready to go when Kansas (15-1, 3-0) travels to face Texas, Saturday afternoon.
“I think he’s fine, I mean, he’s not fine, he twisted his ankle,” Self said. “If we practiced tomorrow, I wouldn’t let him practice. I can’t make a prediction on ho wlong he’s going to be out, but we’re certainly hopeful it won’t be more than two or three days.”
As for the game against Baylor (11-5, 3-1), the Jayhawks set the tone for the game on the defensive end, limiting one of the best offensive teams in the Big 12 to just 44 points on a dreadful 13 of 56 shooting. Kansas also blocked 13 shots as a team, which came from six players led by Jeff Withey and Jamari Traylor with three each.
“I thought our defense was exceptional, “ Self said. “We paid attention to scouting reports. That was pretty good defense from start to finish. We had a lot of guys block shots other than Jeff and that’s the most active we’ve been with our hands as far as raking and stealing the ball.”
Kansas forced 16 Bears turnovers, while outrebounding them 45-40 and outscoring them in the paint 38-14.