3 points, 0 steals, 1-6 shooting, 2 rebounds.
That is the line of Mario Chalmers, the third-leading scorer (before the Nebraska game) and leading stealer on the #2 Kansas Jayhawks roster. So, with that said, you would expect the Jayhawks to struggle, right? At least a little bit?
Mario still found a way to contribute, blocking a career high three shots and, more importantly, posting an absurd 7:0 assist-to-turnover ratio. 7 assists, 0 turnovers. Even when his shot was way, way off, and teams were avoiding him and his quick pick-pocketing hands, he made an impact.
In order to pick up the scoring slack, Darrell Arthur (18 points 7 rebounds), Darnell Jackson (13 and 8) and Brandon Rush (17 and 8) all approached double-doubles, and all scored more than their season averages. In the steals department, Sasha Kaun picked up a career high 3, Russell Robinson almost doubled his seasonal average with 4, and five other Jayhawks picked up at least one steal, totaling 14 as a team.
And that, in a nutshell, is why the Kansas Jayhawks are the #2 team in the country, and why they are one of the final two undefeateds in the country. Somebody struggles, the rest of the team picks him up. Simple as that. Everyone on this team, at some point or another, has struggled big-time in a game. And every time, without fail, the other 8 guys in the 9-man rotation pick him up, on the road to another victory. This one wasn't close after the first couple minutes; both Brandon and Darrell (14 points a piece) almost outscored the Cornhuskers (15 points) in the first half as we took a 29 point lead into halftime. Needless to say, the second half wasn't exactly, uh, filled with intensity.
Here are some of my thoughts on the utter demolition of the Cornhuskers. Seriously, a 35 point conference win?
* Darrell Arthur looked much healthier Saturday than Wednesday night. He looked really good shooting on Wednesday, but couldn't battle the bigs down low because of his calf injury. Saturday, he looked much better battling with the bigs, and picked up 7 rebounds. Hopefully he is 100% for the next game, I hear that that Michael Beasley guy is pretty good at picking up boards. Of course, I heard it through the grapevine, and who knows how reliable that is.
* When Brandon Rush is on, it is evident in his first shot of the game. Less than a minute into the game, with us already up 2-0, Brandon was open in the top corner. We found him, and as the ball was halfway between him and the basket, I raised my hands up and said "Game over". Now, it might not have taken a rocket scientist to know that we would beat the Cornhuskers at home. But the shot was so sweet, touching only the smallest portion of nylon well down on the net, that it was clear that Brandon Rush was "on". And when Rush is on, I don't think there is anyone in the country who can beat us. Honestly. We are a better team than Nebraska, without a doubt, but not 35 points better. But when Brandon shoots 5-7 from three, watch out.
* I am usually really hard on Sasha Kaun, and for good reason, but I want to give him kudos for his performance Saturday. He still isn't all that impressive on the offensive side of the ball, even all these years later, but he has really developed into a shut-down defender. Like a big-time, nationally recognized post defender. Much of the fan base, especially me, take his post defense for granted, almost expecting their big guy to have a worse night than expected. And while Darrell and Darnell are both good defenders, not giving up easy stuff and grabbing plenty of rebounds, but Sasha is on another level. And I think that Cole, who is already the second best post defender we have, will be just as good by the time he is a senior, if not even better.
* Sprouting off of the Sasha Kaun-is-a-good-defender point, he absolutely shut down Aleks Maric on Saturday. Maric is a tremendous, tremendous player, he was even first team All Big 12 last season. But whenever he plays Kansas, he seems to disappear, and none more than last night when he went scoreless for the first time since December 31st, 2005. Here are his point totals against Kansas in his career:
- 2005 @ Kansas -- 4 points/27 minutes
- 2005 vs. Kansas -- 0 points/7 minutes
- 2006 vs. Kansas -- 16 points/30 minutes (impressive, for once)
- 2006 @ Kansas -- 12 points/31 minutes
- 2007 vs. Kansas -- 9 points/28 minutes
- 2007 @ Kansas -- 14 points/25 minutes
- 2008 vs. Kansas -- 19 points/26 minutes (ouch; he really hurt us in Lincoln this year)
- 2008 @ Kansas -- 0 points/21minutes
So, in an 8-game career against the Jayhawks, he was successful twice (2006 and 2008 at home), mildly successful twice more (2006 an 2007 in Allen Field House) and sucked every other time out, including two zero point outings.
* Lastly, and on a mostly light-hearted note, I feel really bad for Jeremy Case. He missed a layup and, with an uncontested, no one-within-twenty-feet chance at another try, dribbled it off his thigh and the ball skittered out of bounds. Oh, and he missed a three. Badly. He is the last remnant of the Roy Williams era (despite never playing for him, he was exclusively recruited by Roy and his staff, the last one on the roster), and apparently works his ass off in practice. Hopefully he gets on the court a couple more times, especially in Allen Field House, and leaves Kansas with happier memories. Because Saturday's performance was pretty embarrassing. And hopefully he gets to start on Senior Day, along with RussRob, Sasha, Darnell and Rodrick Stewart. Uh-huh.
Starting tomorrow, we begin to take a look at the most important Sunflower Showdown in recent memory. I can't take all of these incredibly important, historically rare rivalry games. Well, as long as it implies we are doing well, I guess I can. Next up, an epic KU-Nebraska baseball series for the Big 12 Crown. Maybe?
Oh, and for a Nebraska perspective on the utter domination of Kansas over Nebraska, check out the local SB Nation Nebraska blog, Corn Nation. Maybe we should just comply with his demands, I would hate to lose statehood.