Yep. After struggling to put away some lesser opponents (though Nebraska is a lot better defensively than they get credit for) Kansas absolutely destroyed a talented yet struggling Baylor team. Baylor actually shot fairly well, above their season average, but Kansas forced turnovers in 28.6% of the Bears possessions, above their season average of 23%, which is 284th in the country as is. Kansas also did a tremendous job on the boards. A mediocre defensive rebounding team (29.3%, 60th nationally), Kansas held their tallest, longest and most athletic opponent yet to just a 32% offensive rebounding, which is 6% under their season average.
More on this later, but LaceDarius Dunn, the leading scorer in the Big 12, was held to 13 points, tied for his season low. Dunn, whose season average eFG is 58.8%, was held to a 38.8% mark. The 50% shooter from two also shot just 33.3% from two last night. Even the Bears top scorer, Freshman phenom Perry Jones, shot just 54.5%, and that is including a couple of wide open dunks. The team's second best rebounder percentage wise only grabbed 2 all night.
This is easily the best half Kansas has played all year, and honestly might have been the best half they played since the 2008 National Semifinal, given who the opponent is. I have been saying it all along, but in my mind this is the best team in the country.
One last thing. I never complain about the refs, but given that this was a win it won't sound as sour grapes, just as analysis: college refs are horrible. Just horrible. Granted Kansas took 8 more threes than Baylor, but Baylor took 26 free throws to Kansas's 9. And that was with Baylor absolutely hacking the bejeezus out of KU.
Actually this is my last thing before the player profiles. Kansas finally didn't give back a big lead in the last 5ish minutes before halftime. They took a 36-23 lead with 5:30 left and made it 53-32 at halftime. More of that please.
- This game was a nice halfway middle finger from Tyshawn Taylor to his critics. He started out pretty rough, but after turning it over the first couple possessions he ended with only 3 for the game. He had 4 assists, but did a great job spreading the ball around and controlling the offense. He shot 2 of 3 from the field, grabbed a couple of rebounds, made a couple of steals and played the phenomenal defense on Dunn I talked about earlier. Also, when both of the Morri were on the bench Kansas needed a go to guy, and Tyshawn took it to the hole twice in a row for easy buckets. My #1 talking point in favor of Tyshawn is that he can get that shot any time he wants to, but he doesn't do it because he has matured to the point where he realizes he is not a scorer on this team, but rather a defender.
- Man the Morri are phenomenal. Phenomenal. We'll start with Markieff. Kieffer had 19 points on a 95% eFG. 95%! He also snagged 9 rebounds, dished out 4 assists, had 2 steals and 2 blocks. Marcus Morris's game against Iowa State has some competition for performance of the year.
- Speaking of which, Marcus had 25 points with a 75% eFG, 5 rebounds, 2 assists and 3 steals. He showed the ability to hit the jumper, drive to the basket, post up, rebound and play defense. I don't watch the NBA, but if he's not a high lottery pick something is wrong with how NBA GMs draft their teams.
Josh Selby struggled a bit again offensively, but this time I think it was more due to him just missing shots more than anything else. He had a 52.4% eFG, which is fine for a guard, but could have been much higher because a couple of his shots were in and out. Other than his NBA three that he took for some reason, they were pretty open shots as well. I would prefer him trying to get to the basket, but him finding his shot is important as well. Also, Selby shows a real commitment on the defensive end which is great to see. He had 3 steals, and deflected a couple other passes.
- Tyrel Reed was 3-5 from three, had 4 boards, 2 assists and a steal. He is finding his shot, and had another quietly effective game. I'll say this a million times, but I'll be pretty sad to see Kansas out there without him next year.
- Brady Morningstar played 18 minutes, and looked pretty decent on the offensive end. He had 4 assists and handled the ball well, but he was just too outmatched defensively to play much, as evidenced by his 4 fouls.
- Real quick note on rotation and then a player impact chart. Self said he might go 10 deep. Yes Withey played spot minutes and at the end of the day I think 10 played, but look at the player impact chart and think back to the game. There was a corps of about eight that saw the majority of the minutes. Obviously that doesn't include Releford, but what I think might develop here is a varying 8 man rotation depending on who's having the best game on a given night. Last night's group was firing on all cylinders, Self played almost all five starters above their per minute average. Great move and it will be interesting to see if that method evolves or if it was just the nature of last nights performance.