Following the Kansas State game we asked five questions of the Jayhawks as they headed into the final five games of the season. At the time Texas was hot and it appeared Kansas was likely going to be seeing an end to their consecutive conference winning streak. The most important thing at the time was responding to the loss and answering a few questions over a final five game stretch.
Now the question becomes, how did Kansas do? Five games and five questions for Kansas basketball revisited.
2/19 - Colorado - Responding Defensively- Grade: B
Colorado has the dynamic duo of Alec Burks and Cory Higgins. Burks exploded on everyone's favorite defensive juggernaut Texas just a few games back and last night found himself named to the first team All Big 12 team.
In this game Kansas didn't necessarily lock down the duo but Kansas did keep them from a herculean effort as the two combined for 29 points. Colorado doesn't necessarily have the firepower elsewhere to beat the Jayhawks without Burks and Higgins scoring far more.
If you look at Colorado as a whole, Kansas did the job. For the game Kansas held the Buffs 16 points under their season average at just 63 and that wasn't because the game was slower paced. Colorado was right on par in terms of possessions and shots taken compared to their season average. But Kansas did a nice job at playing solid defense, forcing difficult shots and not sending the Buffs to the free throw line.
It was step one in an improvement process and had the game actually been more competitive I think we would have seen an even better defensive performance from Kansas. Although I certainly don't have a problem with a monster offensive performance like Kansas had in this one.
2/21 - Oklahoma State - Value The Basketball - C in the Game/Incomplete on the year
Game one and the beginning of the great point debate. So how did Kansas do against a Cowboy team that ranked second in the league in terms of forcing turnovers? Actually, right on average at 13. At the same time only five of those came in the first half and with the score sitting at 52 to 28 following the first 20 minutes you'd expect Kansas to lose a little bit of focus.
Of those five first half turnovers only one was a truly unforced error and in all the Jayhawks did a decent job at home in this category. The only problem is that this one game isn't a reflection of an overall improvement as we all know what happened against Missouri.
2/26 - Oklahoma - Poise Away From Allen Fieldhouse - A
Was it really a road game? Norman looked to be about 50/50 as Jeff Capel's fanbase seems to have checked out.
Either way I think you have to give Kansas an above average grade in this one. Yes Oklahoma is not a very good team, but Kansas handled them with ease and the entire country seemed to ignore the Jayhawks in doing so. That seems to be a developing theme with this group, hopefully they can feed off of it.
3/2 - Texas A&M - Win Inside Against A Team That Can Actually Compete Inside - Grade:C-
Great game down the stretch for Kansas to be involved in. Kansas didn't play their best all game, the game was played at a physical low scoring level and the Jayhawks still pulled away to a comfortable win.
As for winning the inside game, I would say this wasn't an overwhelmingly strong endorsement for Kansas in this one. The Jayhawks were outrebounded in the game and the trio of Morris, Morris and Robinson combined for just 26 points and 13 rebounds.
What's impressive about that is that Kansas beat a tournament lock despite that performance. But for my money I'd just assume our bigs have more games like Missouri and less like A&M from here on out.
3/5 - Missouri Tigers - Handle A Legitimate Opponent In A Tough Environment - Grade: A
Kansas stepped onto the court, weathered that emotional beginning and handled a tough environment by eliminating a tough environment. Completely different ballgame from the one in Manhattan and Missouri has one of the most favorable home court advantages out there.
Kansas dominated on the interior, overcame a tremendous amount of mental errors on offense by playing good defense and even took the best punch from the officiating crew late in getting a win.
Good win for Kansas and a win that locks up an outright Big 12 title and all but guarantees a top seed in the NCAA tournament.
Inside of each game Kansas did well in some areas and not so well in others, but at the same time the Jayhawks are a team that seems to be turning a corner in some key areas late.
On the defensive end the improvement is noticeable and the buy in seems more apparent. Offensively the Jayhawks are working the offense through the bigs and that is something that can carry Kansas through a tough shooting night in March. And of course there's the task of winning a few games when things don't go your way which Kansas did against A&M and Missouri to secure the title.
Another thing to think about when looking at Kansas' season and the two Jayhawk losses. Texas and Kansas State have been WIDELY considered the hottest teams in the country for a stretch that began with a game against Kansas. That means the Jayhawks only two losses were to two teams that are considered very tough tourney matchups and the Jayhawks lost one on the road and another under difficult circumstances.
Yes Ohio State looks like a juggernaut at times, but at this point I think it's hard not to give Kansas that same consideration when looking at the season as a whole and what they are capable of on a given night.
Things might not end the way everyone would like, but I wouldn't trade this group for another now that we're headed into the thick of March.