I figured Saint Louis, with their ability to guard so well and make their opponents guard for all 35 seconds of the shot clock, would frustrate a young Kansas team and we would be in for a slow, tense affair before Kansas pulled away.
I got the slow part right, but not much else. In a 66 possession game, Kansas scored 73 (1.11 points per) and Saint Louis manged just 59 (.89 per). For the second straight game Kansas took care of the ball, turning it over on just 13.6% of their possessions, but the Billikens don't really pressure the ball or force a ton of turnovers.
Saint Louis makes an effort to run back on defense, which inflates Kansas's defensive rebounding percentage from last night, so I wouldn't read anything into it. Still, Kansas was better in each of the four factors and the only real complaints one could have about last night's effort is they didn't force too many turnovers nor did they hit the offensive glass well. But beyond that the Jayhawks came back 24 hours after dismantling Washington State and avoided a letdown in winning the CBE Classic. Hopefully we will see them back in the Sprint Center winning two more games in the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament.
- This was one of the best games we've ever seen Jeff Withey play. He was 7-12 from two and 11-14 from the line, scoring 25 points. He still had possessions where he didn't take shots up strong, but he actually had a diverse post game and scored in a number of ways. To top it off, he had 5 rebounds and 7 blocks.
- Travis Releford had 21 in the first half, finishing with 23. He was 4-7 from three and made a pair of those in response to his defender flat out daring him to shoot. I don't think he's an elite shooter by any stretch but he's good enough to make a three with no one on him, so hopefully other teams use that defense.
- Ben McLemore was 4-6 from two and 1-3 from three and had yet another highlight reel dunk. He again was active on the glass, grabbing 6 rebounds, and did a great job not being frustrated by being guarded by St. Louis's best defender.
- Elijah struggled a bit shooting the ball, going 1-5 from two and 1-2 from three, but very encouragingly he was able to contribute in other ways, dishing out 9 assists and turning it over only twice.
- Kevin Young continues to be a rebounding machine. He scored only two points but grabbed 8 rebounds, all defensively, and had 3 assists as well.
- Naadir Tharpe had just 3 points and 2 assists (and 4 rebounds, oddly enough) but more importantly he has pretty clearly solidified himself as Elijah's backup and I don't see much chance that either Adams or White takes his minutes.