Three straight games against possible NCAA Tournament teams, three straight 30ish point wins. The latest was an 87-59 win over Richmond which may have shown off the maturity of this Kansas team. Just 4 days before a showdown with Ohio State (and with the Big 12 being a bit down this year a game that Kansas might need to have for seeding purposes) the Jayhawks did not look past a quality opponent but instead put the game away early and did not let up in the second half.
The game could have been a bit different had Richmond shot to its potential: a 38.8% shooting team from beyond the arc on the season, the Spiders shot just 9-32 (28.1%) in the loss. The Jayhawks did hold them to under 40% from two and just a 25% offensive rebounding rate, but Richmond shooting to their average would have made the game a bit tighter.
(not to say Kansas wasn't dominant or that we should be worried or anything like that, just that the scoreline may have deceived a bit. But only a bit. It also gives a little taste of why I am a bit more worried about the first weekend of the NCAA tournament this year than I am the second weekend. A team like Belmont or Richmond is going to shoot a ton of threes because that's how they score. If they shoot their average they have a shot at the upset, and if they're hot then they have a really good shot at the upset. But a team like an Ohio State, while they shoot well from three, isn't going to take as many, and I trust KU's two point defense to stop anyone. But while the mid major will keep gunning threes no matter what, a team like Ohio State is far less likely to abandon their game plan of getting the ball inside in favor of chucking up threes.)
Offensively I was most impressed with Kansas rebounding almost half their misses, and with yet another good shooting effort from beyond the arc they have potentially added another wrinkle to the offense and are a step closer to becoming one of the most complete teams in America.
- I'll do a full post on this, but at this point Jeff Withey is almost a lock to break the school career record for blocked shots...and he really has only played for the equivalent of 2.5 years. 4 more tonight to go along with 17 points and 13 rebounds (not to mention a couple of awesome steals and assists).
- Travis Releford is a guard who can't shoot the three very well and still ranks 31st nationally in true shooting percentage. He was 3-4 from two, 1-1 from three and 2-2 from the line. He's awesome.
- Kevin Young made all four of his shots from the field and also had 9 rebounds. Open question: he's the best KU transfer since ________?
- Naadir Tharpe finally snapped out of it a bit, scoring 11 points and shooting 3-4 from three. He also had 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals and no turnovers. The yelling he received from HCBS early in the half seemed to have worked.
- Andrew White went 0-4 from three, but with his rebounding and defensive effort he probably kept earning himself more playing time.