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Despite an ugly game, the Jayhawks survived and now face a big game coming up Monday night against the Baylor Bears. A few thoughts:
* Once again, Kevin Young and Travis Releford played their roles to perfection. They don't force the action and just make winning plays. However, it was very nice to see Young get more aggressive in the 2nd half, especially early on. If teams continue to not guard him he has to make them pay by scoring the basketball. His eight early points in the 2nd half helped get this team going.
* The Red Raiders did a great job of controlling the tempo in this game and prevented the Jayhawks from getting into a flow, especially in the 1st half. While Kansas did convert on 16-18 1st half free throws, these attempts really slowed the game down, as did Texas Tech controlling the clock. The lack of flow helped keep the game ugly throughout.
* Texas Tech had the same game plan defensively as Iowa State did..."Ice" the wing pick and roll, sag off of the Kansas four men, and clog the paint. Expect the Jayhawks to see more of this as they go forward. During every Kansas game the commentators talk about Bill Self believing that Perry Ellis needs to take a step to make this team truly great. His ability to score and to knock down perimeter shots and score in a variety of ways would be the perfect way to combat this defense that the Jayhawks have been seeing. Another way would be to go small, moving Releford to the 'four', which would give Withey room to operate in the post. Don't expect to see much of this but it could be the answer for a couple minutes a game or even more against smaller teams.
* Coach Self and the staff had to be extremely frustrated at halftime. They forced the Red Raiders into 13 turnovers, held Tech to 28% shooting, and still only led by two. Their inability to rebound the basketball during that half of play was a big factor in this as they were out-rebounded by the Red Raiders 16-8 in the half. While they were better during the 2nd half they still only finished with 7 offensive rebounds on 22 missed shots. Very poor numbers that the staff can't be pleased with.
The bottom line is that, after playing incredible basketball throughout the month of December, the Jayhawks are struggling a little bit right now. Teams have figured out a game plan against them ("Ice" the wing pick and roll and sag off of the Jayhawks four men to clog the lane up for Withey). However, Kansas has Bill Self, and he and the rest of the staff will figure out a way to beat this game plan that teams are throwing at them.
I think Self figured out how to beat the sagging off our 4 when KY or PE are in the high post; just don't play any of our bigs in the high post. In the second half yesterday Self played KY near the basket, and KY made TT pay for doubling Withey. It would be great to have KY or PE be able to hit some midrange jumpers when defenders are sagging off of them, but it doesn't appear either of them will be able to do this consistently this season. I would like to see White at the 4 given his ability to rebound, but it appears Self doesn't have any confidence in White this year.
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