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Overcoming an 11 point deficit on the road and playing so well down the stretch should provide a boost for this team. A few thoughts:
* Elijah was just awful today...no other way around it. However, I did like how he aggressively attacked the paint instead of settling for jump shots. Hopefully he can keep that aggression, finish some shots in the paint, and most importantly take care of the basketball. His decision making was questionable throughout the game. As the point guard he has to be the guy that makes sure that both McLemore and Withey are getting the touches they need.
* The play that impressed me the most in this game was McLemore sacrificing his body and taking a charge on Holmes with two minutes left in the game...huge play! However, McLemore simply has to get more aggressive on the offensive end in the half court. For this team to be great, the best player on the team, McLemore, has to take more than 10 shots. It looked like Self ran a few specials for him to try to get him going but the Texas defense bottled him up well. However, if he's going to take that step from really good player to great player, this is where he has to learn to be more aggressive and take the game over. It will come for him the more he gains confidence in his ability to put the ball on the floor. Another good day of rebounding the ball for Ben and the effort he made on a missed three by Tharpe to keep a possession alive was very impressive.
* Another Releford performance that we've come to expect...4-8 from the floor, 4-4 from the line, great defense, a couple of timely rebounds, a couple of nice finishes in transition, and a guy that simply plays his role to the extreme. Not much more to say about Releford and what he gives to this team. They would be lost without his unselfish play and experience.
* Young was very average today as I didn't think he brought his usual level of intensity to this game. He was partially responsible for Holmes having a solid game for Texas and he only had three rebounds, two of which were offensive. Young can continue to be a little more aggressive offensively but, like Releford, he has settled into his role nicely for this team.
* Withey needs more touches but he has to develop more strength in his lower body to be able to get positioning against bigger, stronger players. However, the senior has to be more aggressive and demand the ball in the post. A perfect example of this is the possession around the six minute mark where he caught the ball, didn't even look at the basket, and threw away a pass that led to a Texas layup at the other end. On the next possession he caught the ball, made an aggressive up and under move, and scored a basket. That's the confident, aggressive Withey that Kansas needs to see going forward. It was nice to see Withey finish with 9 rebounds and 4 assists. His passing ability has improved greatly, even since last season.
* The bench was again a mixed bag. I like Tharpe's confidence and aggressiveness but there are times that he has to realize that he has Withey and McLemore on his team. He did have a big drive and finish late which gave Kansas the lead that they wouldn't relinquish. I was once again happy with the effort that Perry Ellis gave in this game. He looks like a more confident player out there lately and played very aggressively, grabbing six rebounds in limited action. Traylor brought energy and had a nice dribble drop step move to earn a couple free throw attempts. White just doesn't have the foot speed to compete defensively and it will be interesting to see what his role will be going forward.
* During the Longhorns 12-0 run to give them a comfortable margin, the Jayhawks had six turnovers on seven possessions before Withey broke the streak with a jump hook. For a senior laden team to be this careless with the basketball is absolutely unacceptable. For the game Texas scored 16 points off of 15 Kansas turnovers. Kansas only had three turnovers in the last 10 minutes of the game and during that stretch they outscored the Longhorns 23-10.
* While the Jayhawks were going against a Texas defense that has been elite this season it's no excuse for their lack of player movement and ball movement. However, the Jayhawks were their own worst enemies as they didn't get the ball into the post as often as they should and their turnover issues never allowed them to get into a flow offensively. When Kansas has struggled offensively this season it's because they go away from getting the ball inside.
* Kansas ended each half very well and the end they had to the first half was critical. Their experience matched against the Longhorns youth showed out in these situations.
* The staff has to be very happy with the job they did on the defensive glass, holding Texas to 5 offensive rebounds on 31 missed shots. However, they have to be more aggressive attacking the offensive glass as they got only 9 offensive rebounds on 31 missed shots. As a staff they would like to see an offensive rebound on 40% of their missed shots.
* The free throw battle was going to be big in this game and Kansas really did a great job of getting to the line and converting (21-25) and keeping Texas off of the line, holding them to 8 free throw attempts (2-8).
The bottom line is that this game should have been expected. Texas had a week to prepare and their backs were against the wall. They got off to a good start, shot the ball well from beyond the arc, and caught the Jayhawks when they were a little bit off their game. It really says a lot about this Kansas team that they were able to fight back and pick up a win after being down by 11. Their experience really showed through. Does this team have Top 5 talent? I would say no, but the sum is definitely greater than the parts due to their experience, unselfishness, and the outstanding coaching they receive.
This post has been edited 2 times, most recently by Matt Cumro on 1/19/2013 at 3:39 PM
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