When Brannen Greene missed weights a couple of weeks ago, Kansas head coach Bill Self punished the sophomore swingman, by starting freshman Kelly Oubre in his place. If Tuesday night is any indication, the spot may be Oubre’s for good.
Once again, the freshman guard showed his remarkable improvement, as he torched Kent State for 20 points and seven rebounds, while connecting on all four of his three pointers in a 78-62 victory over the Golden Flashes at Allen Fieldhouse. Oubre’s performance highlighted a much needed win, as they head into their last non-conference game Sunday afternoon against UNLV.
"There is no question he has more confidence in himself and everybody has more confidence in him,” Self said. “He's played very well. The Georgetown game was a start, the Utah game was better, the Lafayette game was a little better. The Temple game it didn't matter - everybody was bad in that game except for Mason. He (Oubre) was the best player in the game for us tonight."
Kansas (10-2) rebounded from their bad loss at Temple a week before by turning up the speed. They played at a faster pace and got and ran on transition. The extra gear was needed as Kent State (8-4) proved to be a worthy challenger that hung around into the second half.
Within a four minute stretch, the Jayhawks got contributions from fellow freshman Cliff Alexander and guard Frank Mason. Suddenly, a slim nine point lead ballooned to 20 and the game was suddenly tucked in Kansas’ back pocket.
"We were faster tonight,” Self said. “They are an easier team to play fast against, because they are okay with it. Certainly though, we definitely were more on the floor tonight than we have been before and we blocked more shots. Our activity was much better tonight."
After hosting UNLV this weekend, Kansas will officially begin their quest for 11 consecutive Big 12 championships, when they travel to Baylor next week. Their first league home game is Saturday, January 10 against Texas Tech.