The Kansas Jayhawks defeated the Baylor Bears Tuesday night by a final score of 69-52. Here are 5 quick observations:
1. Naadir Tharpe was incredible.
My first observation is almost always the most obvious, but Naadir was awesome on Tuesday night. He led the way with 22 points on 9/13 shooting, including 4/6 from three. He also threw in 4 assists and a surprising 5 rebounds, including just his 3rd offensive rebound of the year. Baylor didn't try to attack him (or Wayne Selden) much on the other end, part of the reason the defense was able to put together such an impressive all-around performance.
2. Andrew Wiggins struggled with his shot again, but wreaked havoc on defense.
This was another weird game for Wiggins. He shot just 2 of 10 from two in the game, but 2 of 3 from three, including a fun half-court buzzer beater to end the half. He finished with 14 points on 13 shots, but also had 7 rebounds and 5 assists, but he was the only KU starter without a turnover. Wiggins was the biggest reason for KU's success on defense once again, though, and before re-watching, I counted 8 forced turnovers by Wiggins, including 3 steals. He also threw in two blocks on that end. Wiggins' work on defense continues to get overlooked by both analysts and fans alike.
3. Joel Embiid had little impact on either end.
Joel Embiid has had such a tremendous impact on both ends of the floor so regularly in his freshman season that it's particularly puzzling when it feels like he goes consecutive games looking a bit lost out there. Embiid finished with 5 points on 1/6 shooting with 7 rebounds and 1 block, but also had 4 fouls and 3 turnovers. He never really got into a groove on offense, and didn't handle the Baylor zone with baseline traps very well. The projected #1 pick will have a good chance to rebound against West Virginia on Saturday.
4. Tarik Black continues to give solid minutes when given a chance.
I've been very impressed with Tarik Black lately. He makes his presence felt with his strength and physicality whenever he's in the game. Although he's not nearly the same quality of player as Embiid, it is sometimes a refreshing contrast when he comes into the game and doesn't shy away from contact. If he can avoid foul trouble, he is a very productive player for KU. Black had 6 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, and 2 turnovers in 23 minutes.
5. Selden and Mason did a good job limiting Brady Heslip after a hot start.
Maybe the biggest key for KU's defense tonight was stopping the deadly shooting of Brady Heslip. After starting off 4 of 5 from three, Heslip then missed his next 5 due to Frank Mason and Wayne Selden relentlessly chasing him through screens and always being aware of his presence on the floor.
Any of your own observations to share? Let me know in the comments. You can also follow me on Twitter @TJFsports.