Bill Self was asked after the game if he has so many offensive weapons that he could divvy up playing time simply by who plays the best defense. He responded, “That’d be hard to do tonight because I didn’t think anybody did (play defense). That’s as poor a defensive performance as we’ve had in a long time.”
To their credit, Louisiana-Monroe used a wide variety of looks at both ends of the floor and executed well, making 51 percent of their shots, including a respectable 37.5 percent from behind the arc. Self also cited 14 ULM three-point plays, saying, “That could be a record, too.”
“There’s only been two teams that’ve shot 50 percent against us in the last 80 games, and one of them was UCLA last year, so we went 79 straight games with nobody shooting 50 percent. And to get 78 hung on you in your own building… first one to 70 should always win.”
“Louisiana-Monroe’s guards played very well tonight,” Self said later. “In all honesty, our guards didn’t guard their guards very well at all tonight. We’ve got to get better in that area.”
Self admitted, however, that he’s got his team “screwed up,” preaching shut-down defense and an all-out running offense at the same time.
“The faster you play, the looser the possession – you gamble and miss, that kind of stuff, so there’s not as much pride in getting stops.”
“Darnell was really good, wasn’t he? I didn’t think Darnell was great the first exhibition, but he was really good the second one and tonight he played with great energy and bounce.”
Jackson was quick to downplay his big night.
“I’m playing for my teammates out there. Yeah, I had 21 points but it’s no big deal. We still have a lot of games to go. We need to see if we can keep that same intensity.”
He added, “I just love to get out there and play. As long as I’m out there, doing what I need to do for my team, I’m happy with that.”
Jackson did have to admit, though, that he had a good time Friday night.
“Yeah, I was having fun. Everybody was giving fun. There was a lot of energy in the gym tonight; the fans were great. I just know that we all need to buckle down on defense a little more and talk on defense and help each other out.”
Self also gave kudos to reserves Roderick Stewart eight points, six assists, three rebounds), Tyrel Reed (11 points on 4-5 shooting in 11 minutes), Cole Aldrich (six rebounds in 10 minutes) and Jeremy Case (five points in nine minutes) for coming off the bench and playing well in the win. At one point in the second half, KU’s lineup included all four, and in their time together, they grew KU’s lead.
“I thought our bench played pretty well tonight,” the coach said.
KU’s Sherron Collins had another good game, kicking in 22 points and six assists without a turnover. Darrell Arthur had 11 and Russell Robinson chipped in 10. Arthur and Aldrich shared team rebounding honors with six each.
Fans were treated to Bill Self’s dream team for a couple of brief stretches Friday night: a relentless, up-and-down attack that just didn’t give Louisiana-Monroe room to breathe and used turnovers to create offense.
“We got tired a few possessions, but when we secured (the ball), I thought we looked were really fast. Guys were unselfish and the ball moved. There were some really good things that happened tonight: I thought we were quick, I thought we shared it, I thought we shot the ball well. As fast as we played, we weren’t that careless with the ball.”
Next up: The Jayhawks will host the University of Missouri-Kansas City Kangaroos in venerable Allen Field House Sunday. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 P.M.