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What a way for Coach Self to pick up his 500th career win. A few thoughts:
* In the last 9:23 of game action (regulation and overtime) Elijah acccounted for 30 of the Jayhawks 34 points, scoring 25 points himself and dishing off two assists accounting for 5 more points. To break it down even further, he scored 20 points (and dished to Releford for a big '3') in the last 5:28 of game action. For all of you Kansas historians out there, I would like to know about a better 10 minute stretch of basketball by a perimeter player in Kansas basketball history. Absolutely incredible! Maybe this is the game to finally snap him out of the funk he has been in most of Big 12 play. On top of his scoring, Elijah also finished with 7 assists and only 3 turnovers.
* Releford continues to be the most consistent Jayhawk player, defending a variety of Iowa State shooters last night and helping to cool down McGee after he got red hot. Offensively he was also outstanding, knocking down 5-9 from beyond the arc and finishing with 19 points.
* A big win and a great night for Elijah takes the spotlight away from another below average performance for Ben McLemore on the road. For the season (according to ESPN) he's only connected on 22% of his 3pt field goal attempts taken on the road and he was both non-existant last night and in Stillwater against Oklahoma State. For a player with his talent, he simply has to learn to implement his will on the basketball game. Of course, people forget that this kid has never been "the man" on a team in his life. He had Bradley Beal in AAU ball and now he's surrounding by four seniors in the starting line-up. I will be curious to see if he can learn to be "the man" at the next level or if he will always have to be in a supporting role. One thing Ben continues to improve upon is his ability to put the ball on the floor. He came off a number of ball screens last night and did finish with four assists in the game including a drive and dish to Tharpe for '3' and a beautiful pass to Young on a wing pick and roll.
* A very strange game for Jeff in terms of both whistles (for and against) and on his impact. As expected, Iowa State really sagged down on him early and he wasn't much of a factor but once the Jayhawks went small near the end of the 1st half he began to impose his will on the game. At that time Hoiberg made a great decision to switch to a zone. Jeff's 3rd foul call was one of the worst block / charge calls I've seen this year (until I saw one that may have been worse in the last 0:07 seconds). Withey really had a tough match-up with Niang but I think he did as well as could be expected against such a tough opponent for him.
* Kevin Young was outstanding again last night, doing all of the little things that make sure a difference in big games. He knocked down a couple of 15ft jumpers but his activity on the glass, especially the offensive end, makes such a big difference in games. He is great defensively and is a perfect power forward to defend against the smaller Cyclones as he is quick enough to defend on the perimeter against the pick and roll, off the dribble, and quick enough to provide good help defense when his teammates get beat off the bounce.
* The bench wasn't bad last night as Tharpe enjoyed some 1st half success knocking down a couple of 3's. He also had a big play in the 2nd half where he gave up a wide open '3' (hard to believe), attacked the rim, and found Releford an even better shot from behind the arc. Ellis was also solid, finishing with 8 points and 6 rebounds. His 4-4 performance from the line was also encouraging after struggling there at times this season.
* Before we even start analyzing the officiating I will say that the end of regulation was completely botched by the officials. For Withey to clearly foul Lucious and for them to give the foul to Young was an absolute travesty. For even the most die-hard Kansas fans, I think they would have to admit that Elijah should have been called for a charge and Niang certainly shouldn't have picked up a foul late in that situation by a ref who was shielded from the play. While there are countless plays during the course of the game where officials can affect the outcome (and I'm thinking of that HORRIBLE block / charge call on Withey for his 3rd foul) the blue blood programs and coaches at any level (high school, college, and the NBA) are getting those calls at the end of game. Before I get raked over the coals for that comment, had the shoe been on the other foot last night, as someone who enjoys watching Kansas basketball, I would have been up in arms yet today over the way the last :30 of regulation were officiated last night. A complete travesty at the end with some very tough calls against Kansas throughout the game as well last night.
* I can't tell you how much I enjoy watching two masters of the sidelines match wits. A great coaching move when Kansas went small, which you knew they would, to go zone by Fred Hoiberg limiting Jeff after Self had started to establish him in the low post that. It really became a chess match between coaches, throughout the game with personnel packages, game plans, and plays out of timeouts. These are two of the very best coaches out there.
* For Kansas to win after Iowa State shooting 29-34 from the line and knocking down 17-41 long range shots (an ISU record) is just a remarkable feat. If you had given us those numbers before the game I think most Kansas fans would have thought this would be a 20+ point loss. It was nice to see our offense execute and our guards, all of them, attacking off the dribble and being more aggressive getting into the paint.
* Again, this is a tough opponent for Kansas as they can pull Withey away from the rim with Niang, but the Kansas ball defense must be stronger going forward. Iowa State got far too many opportunities to attack off the dribble, collapse the defense, and then kick out for 3pt shots. This is an area to watch if this team gets matched up in the NCAA Tournament with a team that has quick guards.
With the schedule being very friendly going forward (and I'm not worried about going to Waco) this game should put the Jayhawks in a great position to pick up their 9th consecutive Big 12 championship. Congrats to Coach Self on win #500.
From a pure statistical standpoint EJ's last 10 minutes of game action was probably the most productive by a KU perimeter player ever, However, Sherron Collins put on quite a show in the final 10 minutes of the game against Oklahoma his senior year. Most of his 22 second half points were in the final 10 minute stretch.
I don't remember exactly what he did at the end of regulation, but LaFrentz had a great overtime against Nebraska in 1997 to keep that team unbeaten at the time.
What about McLemore against ISU the first time? From 7:57 left in the second half to 4:51 of OT, he went 3-3 from the line, 3-4 from two, and 3-3 from three for 18 points, while the rest of the team had 9 points. It's not quite as good, but I remember thinking at the time he was utterly dominant and that took us from down 4 to up 3 in OT.
Clearly, EJ was on a different plane last night, but those two were pretty good, too.
LaFrentz had 11 of his 20 points in OT against Danny Nee's Cornhuskers.
Thank you. It was also a lower scoring game (82-77). Not sure how to compare them, or even if I care to, but I'll always remember Raef walking out of the huddle on the way to the overtime tip and calling his SENIOR teammates over to tell them "just get me the DAMN BALL."
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