LAWRENCE, Kan. — Travis Releford turned his back to the basket and cued his chorus.
His shot, one of the five he made over the course of his night, put the Kansas men's basketball team up 75-60 with 11:31 left in the game. Releford brought his arms up, down and up again. The mayhem in Allen Fieldhouse blocked out his voice, but his lips formed his words perfectly.
"Let's go!" Releford yelled.
And go Kansas did, continuing to put distance between itself and Missouri in the Jayhawks' 103-86 win over the Tigers on Monday night in Lawrence, Kan.
The first half showed no indication of the lopsided score that was to come. Laurence Bowers' shot was sweet, and he found the net often from midrange. Michael Dixon and Phil Pressey made big 3-pointers, and Ricardo Ratliffe did not shy away from hip-checks and elbows from Kansas big men Marcus and Markieff Morris. But, with seconds remaining in the half, Releford hit a jump shot that gave Kansas a four-point lead and the momentum heading into halftime.
Another big shot from Releford came after the half, giving Missouri the 15-point death sentence. In the final 11 minutes after the shot, Missouri did not give up, but its attempts to crawl out of the hole only caused more dirt to fall on its head.
Ratliffe demonstrated the situation perfectly after he hit a 3-pointer that cut the Kansas lead to 12. As soon as he made it to the other end of the court, Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor drove in and got Ratliffe to jump into the air. As Ratliffe's momentum peaked, Taylor jumped, giving the Missouri forward another foul.
Missouri's fouls started to pile up. The Tigers had eight team fouls before Kansas had three. When the Tigers put a dent in the lead, a hack or a bump on the other end would allow free throws to bring back the deficit.
"I have a motto, and it’s probably bad, but I don’t like giving up anything easy," Bowers said. "Even if I have a foul, when he goes up to shoot, I’m going to go try and get it, and I got a few fouls for that tonight."
Eventually, when one of the Morris twins would slam into the lane, Ratliffe and Bowers could no longer hit back. They had to be cautious. Fouls were piling up.
"Whenever you're in foul trouble, I guess you do need to play a little tentative, because you know that your team needs you out there and two points isn’t worth you getting your fourth foul," Bowers said. "I think it definitely opened it up a little bit for them. We started playing a little tentative to not foul out, but we ended up fouling out anyways."
By the end of the night, the Morris twins had combined for 38 points.
"I thought in the first half we did a good job. In the second, they (the Morris twins) took the fight to them. They were going inside," Missouri coach Mike Anderson said.
When Missouri managed to build a defensive fortress strong enough to contain the the twins, Kansas would kick the ball out for a hardly-inaccurate 3-pointer.
The lasers from behind the arc were the quick jabs that came with Kansas' body shots.
Releford and teammate Mario Little, who both came off the bench, combined for 27 points on 5-for-5 shooting from the 3-point line.
"I've been watching them (Releford and Little) on film for the past couple of days, and those shots they were hitting kind of surprised me a lot," Pressey said.
As the fouls rained down and the jumpers continued to fall, Missouri players began taking their exits.
It wasn't long before Ratliffe fouled out, lingering on the court like he hoped the referee wouldn't notice.
"I was just hoping that everybody would pull together without me and fight back, even if we weren’t going to win," Ratliffe said. "We did play through it all the way through the buzzer, so I’m proud of the guys. I wanted to be in there with them, but unfortunately, I couldn’t."
Bowers wasn't far behind, grabbing a spot a few seats to Ratliffe's left while he attempted to chew through his mouthpiece in frustration. Even Pressey fouled out before the end of the game.
By this time, Releford was on a much happier Kansas bench, the Jayhawks' alley-oop show was in full effect, and the Kansas fans' arms were in the air waving the wheat.