for this game

Collins' career day carries Kansas past Tennessee

Jan 3, 2009 - 11:57 PM LAWRENCE, Kansas (Ticker) -- Kansas finally has a win for its NCAA Tournament resume.

Sherron Collins scored a career-high 26 points and handed out nine assists, helping the Jayhawks to a 92-85 victory over No. 18 Tennessee on Saturday.

Cole Aldrich added 22 points and 10 rebounds for Kansas (10-3), which secured its first signature win of the season and notched its 32nd straight win at Allen Field House.

"They needed the win and they came out and got what they wanted," said Tennessee forward Tyler Smith, who had 21 points and nine rebounds. "They played a great game. Sherron came out from the start and really played great. Cole Aldrich came out and gave his all, too."

Kansas needed a quality win after going 2-2 in its last four games and losing its toughest games to date - Arizona and Massachusetts prior to this win.

"It was real big for us because we needed a significant win like this," Collins said.

"We had lost all the big games preceding this and we just really wanted it. I didn't get much sleep last night and I was still probably the most energized that I have ever been during a game. That is how bad I wanted this game."

Collins and the Jayhawks came out like a team that had something to prove. Kansas ambushed the Volunteers early, hitting 10 of their first 13 shots and jumping out to a 25-9 lead in the first eight minutes.

Collins was the catalyst, as he scored 14 points on 6-of-10 shooting and added five rebounds and five assists in the opening session.

"Kansas played well," Tennessee head coach Bruce Pearl said. "Their two best players had terrific games. We really didn't have an answer for Collins. Collins did whatever he wanted out there. ... I give them credit and I am not happy with my basketball team."

Tennessee (9-3) eventually shook off the cobwebs, but still trailed, 40-31, at the break. Smith scored 10 of his 21 points in the first half for Tennessee.

The Volunteers, who shot just 29 percent (11-of-37) in the first half, dug themselves a hole with the poor showing and faced an uphill battle the entire second half.

Aldrich's dunk stretched the Jayhawks' lead to 17 at 72-55 with 7:21 left. Tennessee called timeout to regroup and came storming back. Cameron Tatum's 3-pointer capped a 15-5 run and pulled the Volunteers to within 77-70 with 4:35 to play.

However, Kansas responded with a 10-4 surge that sealed the win.

"It was really big," Aldrich said of the triumph. "Regardless of their ranking, they're a heck of a team. They showed heart throughout the whole game. They started to chip away when we had 10 seconds left. They didn't give up and I think it puts us back on our feet and builds the momentum for the really tough stretch that we have coming up."

Brady Morningstar and Tyshawn Taylor each scored 12 points for the Jayhawks, who shot 51 percent (34-of-66).

"We had good games by our 20-year old (Collins) and our 19-year old (Aldrich)," Kansas head coach Bill Self said.

"They both played great. When we play high-caliber competition, I know its pressure on them to perform. But our complimentary players played pretty well, too. Tennessee is really athletic. We played so well early and took it at them so well."