After a strong start that look focused and energized following a loss to Iowa State, Kansas fell into the same rut they ran into during the first half against Oklahoma down in Norman. It wasn't that the Jayhawks were ever really in any grave danger of losing, but Kansas consistently let Oklahoma crawl back into things because the Jayhawks were settling for the three and struggled to find any sort of offensive production outside of their starters.
It's a trend of late that has been troubling. The Kansas bench is really a liability. Players that are supposed to provide offensive production aren't doing so and others present a defensive liability. It's to the point where you wonder if Self would play his five starters for 40 minutes if he could.
The good news is that the second half marked a bit of a turning point. With the full slate of starters back in the game the Jayhawks pushed the lead out early in the second half and put some distance in between themselves and the Sooners. That lead would extend to over 30 and hold for the an easy second half win. Play basketball the way Kansas did in the second 20 minutes and they can be pretty effective.
It boils down to the fact that this Kansas team is can be very good when the starting five are clicking. They can be very good if Tyshawn Taylor or Thomas Robinson are playing at a high level. They start to struggle when they run into foul trouble or if they have to look elsewhere for significant offensive production. The bench just isn't getting it done. Fortunately Kansas has Bill Self pacing courtside and he's proven time and time again that he can manage a team as well as anyone.
Kansas wins by a final score of 84-62. The Jayhawks were led by Thomas Robinson who continued his player of the year campaign with a 20 points 16 rebound night. Tyshawn Taylor added 21, Jeff Withey dropped 15 and Travis Releford provided a nice lift with 12. Overall the Jayhawks had four starters in double figures. It's the formula for a successful night in Lawrence. Even despite the bench criticism, Kansas received a nine point bench effort although most of it was late.
Now all the focus shifts to a huge game in Columbia. With the Border War looming the issues in this one are probably magnified a bit, but Kansas did a pretty solid job in a lot of areas. If they can button it up for a full 40 minutes and come out with consistent energy and focus, then Kansas will give it a good run on Saturday. Win that game in Columbia and things are looking pretty good. Lose and the margin for error becomes that much smaller.