Nick Schwerdt put it best when he said last night’s game was Oklahoma State in a nutshell: “Stretches where you wonder why they haven’t won more games combined with much longer stretches that make you go, ‘Ah, now I understand.’”
There was a bit too much of the now I understand column last night, as Kansas used separate huge runs, one in each half, to claim a runaway road victory over the last-place Cowboys.
The Jayhawks had a rare off game from two, as they shot just 10-21 from inside the arc with Oklahoma State selling out to not allow Udoka Azubuike easy touches or to let Devon Dotson and Marcus Garrett get to the rim. It almost seemed as though they greased up the lane in the first half, as evidenced by everyone slipping all over the place, in an effort to keep Kansas to the outside.
Early in the first half Fran Fraschilla remarked it was good defense by Oklahoma State to keep the Jayhawks to the outside, even though Kansas had wide open 3-point attempts every possession. Even though they missed the first handful, credit the players (and Bill Self) for keeping on launching. Kansas ended up taking 33 threes compared to just 21 twos, and ended up making 11 of them, leading to 1.04 points per possession. That number is fairly low, relatively speaking, so expect teams to copy them in the future (although maybe not leave Kansas so wide open from deep), but hopefully Kansas heeds the lesson of what happened against Baylor vs. what happened last night and keeps shooting them.
Defensively, Kansas was its usual impressive self. Other than a few rough minutes when they had 5 guards on the floor, the Jayhawks were stifling. They held Oklahoma State to 16-46 shooting on twos and just .8 points per possession. Needless to say, it’s tough to lose with that kind of an effort. They also didn’t give up their customary boatload of 3-point attempts, and the ones they did give up were relatively guarded. Devon Dotson and Marcus Garrett both did excellent work on Isaac Likekele, and basically everyone combined to take Thomas Dziagwa, OSU’s best 3-point shooter, out of the game. He only attempted 3 shots, and only played 13 minutes.
Lastly, Kansas got this effort with Dotson and Azubuike both chained to the bench for long stretches due to foul trouble, and with Oklahoma State selling out to keep the ball away from Azubuike when he was in. The two combined for just 53 minutes played and just 12 shot attempts, and Kansas still won by 15. That’s certainly not to say Kansas can win a title without those two, but if Udoka Azubuike picks up 2 quick fouls against a plucky 9-seed in a couple months, I’ll only have a mild heart attack rather than a full blown one.