The Freshman had a career high 33 points as Kansas avoided a huge upset for the second straight game, beating the Cyclones 97-89 in overtime.
When playing in as good of a league as the Big 12 is, even in its down years, there are going to be a handful of games where the result could go either way and, even if you're Kansas, there will be some games where the opponent is just better.
But when Allen Fieldhouse is involved, and one of the teams has Ben McLemore, it seemingly doesn't matter what else happens. Kansas fouled Iowa State with just 8 seconds left, and Korie Lucious made two free throws to put the Cyclones up 3.
And then, it was McLemore time: The Freshman, who had a career high 33 points, had the three biggest ones with just 1 second in the game as he banked in a three to tie it and send it to over time. It was, as has every end of game play since I can remember, been a variation of the Chalmers play. It was weird looking, it featured an extra handoff, but it had to go to McLemore. It couldn't end any other way.
And that is the lesson of this team. This team who shares the ball like few KU teams in recent history, this team with four Seniors in its starting lineup, belongs to a Freshman. McLemore took over down the stretch, scoring 15 of the Jayhawks final 22 points of regulation.
The Jayhawks overcame a lackluster effort that saw them miss out on nearly every 50/50 ball and allowed the Cyclones to score 1.11 points per possession, a mark that will likely be the highest an opponent has against the Jayhawks all year and for sure the highest at Allen Fieldhouse.
The good news is that Kansas played pretty well offensively: they scored 1.21 points per trip, shot 53% from two and 42% from three, and they grabbed more offensive rebounds than the Cyclones. In fact, they held the Cyclones, a team that grabs about 38% of their misses, to just a 28% offensive rebounding rate and they also rebounded about 10% more of their misses than the Cyclones allow on average.
The defense needs to be a lot better, and the effort needs to be a lot better, but given how the rest of this season has been I am confident those are just one game blips, and they get a glorified scrimmage against Texas Tech before the toughest three game stretch of the conference schedule begins.
- I think I have officially run out of things to say about Ben McLemore. 33 points going 4-6 from 2, 6-6 from three and 7-7 from the line. 33 points on 12 shots. That is insane. That is, for the record, an eFG of 108.3%. My new theory is that all of the hype and promise that was built up around Xavier Henry and Josh Selby were just stored up and transfered into the skills of Ben McLemore.
- Jeff Withey finished with 15, 12 and 3 blocks, but he stunk up the joint for large portions of the game. He affected few shots and looked slow on the defensive end. Hopefully just a one game blip from him, and I think it's safe to say that it was.
- Kevin Young also had a double double, going 5-10 from the floor and scoring 10 points and grabbing 12 rebounds. He struggled on help defense and getting around screens however, something that has plagued him for awhile now.
- Elijah Johnson had a few nice drives to the basket when Kansas needed a bucket, and he too finished with a double double, scoring 12 points and dishing out 10 assists. He did turn it over 6 times however.
- The three point regression machine may have begun a bit with Releford going 0-2 and Tharpe going 0-5 from deep. Not saying they're terrible three point shooters, I just don't think either is as good as what their percentages were before the game. Releford did go 2-2 from two and 6-8 from the line, however.