Where to start? This team eerily reminded me of the 2008 national championship team: 13, 12, 12, 11 and 10 points were the leading scorers. That was a superbly impressive from everyone involved in blue. Seriously, everyone that played played a good game. When you have to scan the boxscore to find Conner Teahan and Elijah Johnson for "bad games" based on zero-for-one shooting performances, it suffices to say, "it was a good day."
It's tough to compete when you can't make a shot. Look no further than the disparity in field goal percentage to find out why Kansas had such an easy time gaining a big lead, then holding onto it. And, it wasn't as if the Jayhawks shot exceptionally well from the field. (52 percent from the field, but 50 percent from three is exceptional) The Tigers just couldn't buy a bucket from three all game. One might say that when you can't hit those, try something else. But, what else were they to try? Go inside to under-sized bigs, already depleted by the loss of Justin Safford, only to get another shot blocked or altered by Cole Aldrich? Same result in the end - loose ball to Kansas, transition layup the other direction.
What Went Right
First and foremost, I saw more hustle today from a Kansas team than I may have ever seen before. When you have a team as talented as Kansas, that's nice; you're going to win a lot of games. When you have a team that hustles its butt off to make up for a lack of talent, that's nice; you're going to win some games you shouldn't. When you have a team as talented as Kansas and that hustles its butt off, well, they're going to win a lot of games and most of the ones they shouldn't. The coaching job that head coach Bill Self has done to get this group of big named, uber-talented guys to play with hustle and lay it all on the line cannot be forgotten when listing reasons that they have the chance to go all the way. Nothing makes a fan feel better about their team than seeing the players want it as much as they do.
The aforementioned balance. "Nobody over thirteen points a game." That was the moniker spoken all year about the 2008 team. Only Brandon Rush (13.3) averaged over 13 points a game for that team. On Saturday, no one scored over 13 points, but they did get double digits from five players. Tyshawn Taylor was the leading scorer (who would have thought that?) with the thirteen. Marcus Morris and Sherron Collins each had twelve, Tyrel Reed had eleven and Cole Aldrich netted ten, as well. When your opponent gets balanced scoring like that, who do you key on to stop? Aside from playing defense not unlike that displayed on Saturday, there is nothing better than hitting your offensive stride this time of year.
Free throw shooting once again over season average. This game was night and day compared to the bludgening battle against Kansas State on Wednesday when it comes to free throws attempted. The Jayhawks attempted 27 free throws against the Wildcats, while only fifteen on Saturday. The worst percentage shot by Kansas against Missouri? The best free throw shooter on the team - Sherron Collins. He missed two in a row early in the second half. Two-for-four. So terrible.
What Do I Dare Complain About?
We must protect this ball. While 18 turnovers may sound like a lot, it's not THAT bad against Missouri. But, you always hope to protect the ball better. Especially, heading into tournament time. Marcus and Sherron combined for nine between them with five and four, respectively.
Now, it's on to the Big 12 tournament and then the NCAA's.