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Kansas - Oregon State: 5 Observations

5 Observations from the Jayhawks' victory over Oregon State

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

It was another Jekyll-Hawks sighting in Kansas City this past Saturday, as Kansas battled back from an 11-point deficit to beat the Oregon State Beavers 82-67. Here are my 5 observations from the up-and-down victory.

1) Hunter Mickelson was the Jayhawks' Best Big Man

Although only playing 14 minutes, the Arkansas-native played the most complete game of any player in the Kansas front court. Mickelson played through the first tv timeout and was fairly active in the opening minutes, as he rebounded well and ran the floor nicely on his way to 3 points, 4 rebounds, 1 block and 1 steal. Those usually wouldn't be eye-opening stats, but they become respectable given the fact that the only person who played fewer minutes in the first half was Jamari Traylor. Hunter's 2nd half was the best basketball he's played all season. He showed the ability to make that 16-18 foot jumper that was somewhat of a head-scratcher on previous attempts, and his pass from underneath the basket to Perry may have been the most unselfish and most impressive play of the game. I know that Bragg played a great 2nd half as well, but given the fact that Kansas was +14 in the 2nd half before Mickelson came out, I am giving him the nod as the big man of the night.

2) First Half Defense Not As Bad As I Initially Thought

The Oregon State nets were the same color as their jerseys after hitting a scorching 70% of their first half 3s en route to 39 points. Judging by those figures, it may seem that Kansas played a lackluster 1st half on the defensive side of the ball, but I don't think that was the case. For much of the 1st half, the Beavers looked just as offensively challenged as the Jayhawks did. Oregon State struggled to get into their offense on multiple occasions and forced multiple long range shots with virtually no time left on the shot clock. The majority of the 3s that Oregon State connected on did not come within the flow of the offense, but from giving their big men too much room on the perimeter. Yes, that is bad defense as well, but then again, it was not as if Kansas was suffering full-blown defensive breakdowns. Furthermore, this is and was an easily fixable problem, which is why you saw Oregon State's offense grind to a halt in the second half .

3) Wayne Continues to Impress

Selden has scored in double-figures in all but one game this season. He has also shot 50% or higher in all but one game this season. The game that he didn't have double-figures he had 9 points in 22 minutes off of 3-4 shooting. Through the Maui Invitational, I was ecstatic that we were seeing some consistency out of Wayne, but remained extremely cautiously optimistic. I am even more ecstatic in the fact that Selden's play has that caution wavering. He is transforming into the player that Kansas fans thought he could be, the same one they saw in South Korea this summer. No longer is he the guy that we wish would get going, but instead the guy who gets the rest of the team going with instant offense. We're only a quarter of the way through the season, but Wayne Selden looks like he could be a dark horse for some individual accolades at the end of the season

4) Strong Guard Play Continues

Almost all great teams are upheld by strong backcourt play, and this iteration of the Jayhawks fits that mold. Frank and Devonte continued their strong campaigns with a combined 28 points, 11 assists, 6 steals and only 1 turnover. That is simply outstanding efficiency from 2 guards that are only getting better. Two things that really stood out to me in this game was the variety in which both players scored the basketball, as well as the way they controlled tempo down the stretch. Frank and Devonte took and made shots from under the basket, in the lane, from the mid-range and from downtown. Although they struggled from the 3-point arc, going an uncharacteristic 1-5, the diversity of shots was great to see. As for controlling the tempo, there were multiple possessions in which Kansas had a slight spacing advantage or were on the secondary fast break. However, instead of forcing a quick shot, the two guards took the ball out, milked the clock, nursed the lead, and got an even better shot. Those are decisions we weren't making just a few weeks ago, and it was great to see that heady decision making

5) So... How Bout That Rotation?

Although Kansas got the W and played some of its best basketball in the 2nd half, that game may have created more questions on the rotation than it answered. Traylor's minutes have been in a free fall since Maui, while the minutes of Lucas, Bragg, Diallo and Mickelson vary widely from game to game. Hunter has played well enough to stay a starter with Bragg being the first of the bench, and you have to believe Diallo will keep getting chances to prove himself. To me, the backcourt is a bit more problematic because at this point, Greene and Svi aren't doing enough to prove they belong on the court. They will both see playing time because Selden, Graham and Mason can't play 40 minutes every night, but this Kansas team will be much better if our backcourt backups force their way on to the court with their play, and not just by default.