Cornell walked into Allen Fieldhouse and did what a solid team returning 4 senior starters does. Cornell was not intimidated and quite frankly looked poised to take advantage of a Kansas team poised for an upset. Apparently Andy Katz does know what he's talking about and a tough Ivy League opponent sandwiched between two top 25 road opponents had all the ingredients to give Kansas fits. Wittman, Wittman...Wittman. If I never hear of him draining a three against the Jayhawks again it will be to soon. I'll tell you one thing, I wouldn't want to see Cornell in my first round draw on selection Sunday.
From a game flow perspective Cornell vs. Kansas was entertaining and in the context of a Kansas victory it was a great game. All year Jayhawk fans have commented on the monotonous nature of the non conference victories. This was a gut check, a close game and one where the Jayhawks had to play whistle to whistle defense and find good offensive possessions down the stretch. A game like this was needed. It was needed for the players, for the coaches and for the fans. Speaking of the fans, pretty impressive showing considering school still isn't in session and a "blizzard" descended on the Midwest earlier in the day. For a little perspective. Our friends to the East wrapped up their non con schedule with a nice win over Savannah State. Announced crowd...3,394. I know there were some empties in Allen Fieldhouse due to the circumstances but it certainly didn't approach nearly that number.
As poorly as the Jayhawks looked at times they still managed to overcome a blistering first half of shooting by the Cornell Big Red and won the eFG% battle. Kansas' 7-15 from the three point line was a major factor in that, as was Cornell's cold second half shooting. Another factor that kept Kansas in this one despite a less than stellar performance was the turnover percentage. Kansas had 12 steals, forcing 16 turnovers finishing +6 in that category.
Most importantly though the Jayhawks got to the line and converted. 28 of 36 on free throws for the night and as with any team that relies on the three Cornell just didn't draw many fouls in shooting situations. Had their hot shooting of the first half continued it wouldn't have mattered, but when Cornell started missing there was just no way for them to manufacture points the way Kansas did in the paint.
|3pt FG Att||26||15|
|3pt FG Made||9||7|
|3pt FG Pct||34.6||47|
Free throws, turnovers and Sherron Collins. That's what this boiled down to. When things got tough Bill Self shortened his bench to 8, played a whole lot more Brady Morningstar and let Sherron go to the basket similar to last year. Xavier Henry and Cole Alrich Struggled at times but both made double figures. The Morri unfortunately became nearly nonexistent with a stat line of 5 points and 8 rebound. This felt like the '08-'09 version of the Jayhawks.
Interesting little scenario to look at actually. Last year the prevailing thought on Kansas was that Cole and Sherron could score but there wasn't a third option to put them over the top. Insert Xavier Henry and the problem was to be solved. We haven't seen that as a necessity however because of the improved play across the board by the Morri, Taylor, etc. Last night it was '08 Kansas insert Xavier. The trio of Sherron, X, and Cole ultimately accounted for 60 of Kansas' 71 points. 60 points with both Cole and Xavier having off nights. That give a strong indication that if all else fails the trio of Sherron, Cole and Xavier can keep Kansas in a game in most all cases. Let's just hope it doesn't come to this down the stretch.