Collins Caps Off Big 12 Title on Senior Night
March 3, 2010
LAWRENCE, Kan. –
The table was set for No. 2 Kansas on Senior Night for the winningest player in KU history. A KU victory meant its sixth straight Big 12 Conference regular-season championship would be won outright with a win over in-state rival and No. 5 Kansas State.
To finish it off, it would be the last time that senior guard Sherron Collins’ would play in Allen Fieldhouse. It was bound to be an emotional night of the most highly played matchup in the country.
“It seemed like a perfect night,” said freshman guard Xavier Henry. “We played a team that we have the most rivalry with and we play them here. It was a good game and we showed them who the Big 12 team is to beat.”
In the feisty matchup that featured 47 total fouls, Kansas prevailed with an 82-65 win on Senior Night to send Collins off with his fourth Big 12 Conference championship in his four seasons at KU.
After shooting 1-for-9 in the first half, the Chicago native found his rhythm in the second half shooting 4-for-6 from the field, helping the Jayhawks run away with the victory. Collins, who played 38 minutes, posted 17 points, four assists, two rebounds, one block and one steal.
“In the beginning I was really jittery,” said Collins. “I just had to take a couple of deep breaths. I had a little pep talk with myself at halftime and everybody else was so confident.”
After beginning the second half in a cold spell and letting the Wildcats creep back into the game, the Jayhawks wouldn’t surrender the game on Collins’ special night.
Head coach Bill Self took the court after the game to praise the team and its accomplishments this season and to let them know how proud as coaches they were.
“These guys did not sneak up on anybody this year, they have been the front runners all year long and with that comes the extra pressure,” Self said. “I think they have competed and handled it very, very well.”
Self also had to build up to Collins’ long, awaited senior speech. Self described how he and assistant coach Kurtis Townsend made more trips to Chicago to recruit Collins than any other recruit.
“Every time we met with Sherron [Collins], we thought to ourselves, `What a hard-headed, moody, stubborn, cocky, pain in the butt,'” Self joked. “After coaching him for four years, nothing has really changed.”
In those four years though, Collins attitude on the court did not change one bit as he became the winningest player in Kansas basketball history. In terms of the 2009-10 season, Collins led his team to an undefeated season in Allen Fieldhouse and kept the 59-game home winning streak alive.
“There are a lot of good places to play and all of that, but if I was a young guy and I saw how the fans embraced our players, I think that a lot of people would really want to be a part of that,” Self said.
Collins, who before the game said he was unsure of if he would cry, let the tears flow as the crowd rose to its feet for a standing ovation.
“It was a very emotional day,” said Collins in the postgame press conference. “I was trying not to get too caught up in it, but it was hard not to. I kept remembering it was my last game [in Allen Fieldhouse].”
Collins said he knew that with a team like Kansas State, it would be a back and forth battle.
“We knew they were going to make a run, but we just had to make our own run,” Collins said. “It ended perfectly.”
The Jayhawks won their 26th-straight Senior Night game with a bang and will hit the road for their final regular season game at Missouri and before the Big 12 Conference tournament in Kansas City, Mo.