John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports
The Jayhawks led only by two at halftime but pulled away for a 60-46 win in their road opener.
Sometimes it is tough to remember that as talented as these kids are, they are still just kids. Perhaps then it shouldn't be too much of a surprise that the Jayhawks struggled early against the Red Raiders, shooting under 30% in the first half and also letting Texas Tech rebound half their misses. But after what I assume was a tongue lashing at halftime, the Jayhawks began the second half with a 12-0 run and it was over after that.
The problem with an effort like this is it is tough to know what to make of it. On one hand, this is the third straight game in which the team has come out uninspired and played terrible basketball for large portions. On the other hand, this is a Texas Tech team that is far worse than any other in the league other than TCU, and Kansas knew all they had to do was show up to win. Is that the right attitude? Probably not. But despite the fact that this is a team that starts four Seniors it is still a group of kids, and I can't really blame them for sleepwalking through this one.
However, that has to change now as Kansas has one of their two toughest three game stretches of the conference slate. A 3-0 run, including wins in Austin and Manhattan, can virtually shut the door on another team winning the league already.
But back to this game, Kansas ended up with the type of defensive effort we'd expect: they held Tech to 35% shooting from two and held them to .8 points per possession. They also, finally, had a good turnover game, forcing Tech to turn it over on 28% of their possessions. They seemingly struggled on the defensive glass, allowing Tech to rebound 36.7% of their misses, but that is under Tech's season average, so it's not as bad (although given Tech's schedule maybe it isn't as impressive). Still that (plus their offensive rebounding, which was poor) is an effort issue, so I'm not going to read too much into it.
- After nearly singlehandedly winning the Iowa State game, Ben McLemore went 2-4 from two and 0-3 from three, scoring 10 points and grabbing 4 rebounds. He also had 2 assists and a team high (!) 2 blocks.
- Speaking of which, Jeff Withey had just 1 official block recorded, but it looked like he got a piece of a couple more. He took just 3 field goal attempts, but was 8-10 from the line and went for 12 points and 7 rebounds
- Kevin Young won the day, taking advantage of not being guarded too hard to go 7-9 from the field and scoring a game high 14 points.
- Travis Releford game alert! 4-5 from two, 3 rebounds, an assist, 3 steals, awesome defense.
- Elijah Johnson was god awful. He's been good this year so I won't harp on it too much but 4 turnovers in a 57 possession game is horrendous.
- Probably more on this in a full post, but Justin Wesley needs to play more. The backup bigs aren't getting it done and if Withey gets into foul trouble in March Kansas is going to be ripe for an upset.