LAWRENCE, Kan. — Chattanooga’s Farad Cobb knew what to expect on Thursday evening at Kansas’ Allen Field House.
Hours before the opening tip, during UTC’s shootaround, the freshman point guard couldn’t help but take in the atmosphere of the historic 16,300-seat arena. There wasn’t a single screaming Jayhawk fan in the Phog at the time, but he had a pretty good idea what that Mecca of college hoops venues had in store for him.
“I knew there was going to be a lot of people in here just by looking at the arena,” Cobb said. “I know how many good players have come through this program. Just to play against (Kansas) is a big deal for me.”
Cobb didn’t just play, though. He excelled.
The 6-foot point guard scored a team-high 21 points, all of which came on 3-pointers, and he helped his team build a 36-28 halftime advantage despite playing just 10 minutes in the opening half.
“All of us freshmen, we actually like big crowds,” Cobb said. “We knew it was going to be crazy in here, they were going to be rooting against us, but that encouraged us. I just took that and wanted to go out, play hard and have a good game.”
Cobb sunk his first 3 with 12:32 remaining in the first half — less than two minutes after checking into the game for the first time — and he connected on five more before the break.
“I couldn’t wait to get in the game,” Cobb said. “Once I got my first look and it went in, I knew it was going to be a good night.”
For the No. 7 Jayhawks, watching a first-year player rain 3s down on them wasn’t quite as enjoyable.
“It’s not a good feeling,” Kansas senior Elijah Johnson said. “I don’t really like for people to come into Allen Fieldhouse and have a game like that. It doesn’t happen too much, and I know it’s not what the fans came to watch.”
The Jayhawks and their fans might have been surprised by Cobb’s performance, but Chattanooga head coach John Shulman certainly wasn’t.
“Farad can make shots,” Shulman said. “I see it every single day in practice. The ball goes in the basket for him.”
Shulman knew Cobb would have to play beyond his years this season, especially with fifth-year senior point guard Dontay Hampton sidelined after a summertime ACL injury. Through two games, it’s safe to say he’s done that.
Cobb made a UTC freshman-best six steals in the Mocs’ season-opening win over Tennessee Temple on Monday, and he got his name in the record books once again on Thursday. His seven 3s not only set a freshman record for 3-pointers in a game, it nearly doubled the previous mark (four).
And while Shulman was delighted to see his young point guard punishing his opponent from long range in the first half, he was almost as excited to see him hit the brakes in the second.
“He showed a lot of maturity," Shulman said. "If I go 7-for-9, I’m going to get up another one. He didn’t force anything, and he got other people involved. He led us out there.”
Kansas’ Travis Releford was charged with locking down Cobb in the second half, and the 6-6 senior got the job done. Cobb got off just two shots in the final 20 minutes as a result of Releford’s suffocating defense.
“He was definitely taller than me,” Cobb said. “I knew that if I was going to get a shot off it was going to have to be on a quick swing pass. I didn’t want to force it.”
Michael Murphy covers UTC athletics for Nooga.com. Follow him on Twitter @MichaelNooga.