No Slowing Down

After facing a Baylor team that was at times unconscious, KU takes on the league's best guard tandem – A.J. Abrams and D.J. Augustin. Will Self's defense be up to the challenge in Austin?

Maybe fans understand NOW why Kansas head coach Bill Self has been pushing his guards on the defensive end of the floor the last week or so. It wasn’t just coach speak and Baylor’s guards lived up to the pre-game billing as some of the best in the conference.  

Kansas survived a late barrage of three-pointers from Scott Drew’s Baylor Bears winning a high-scoring affair, 100-90. Curtis Jerrells put up 30 points - and they didn’t come easily - LaceDarius Dunn was outstanding notching 23, and Henry Dugat added 15 points. The trio combined to shoot 24-48 from the floor including 10-21 from three.

Definitely not the kind of numbers Self had in mind for his defense but when he reviews the tape of this one, he’ll just have to shake his head at some of the long range threes Baylor was able to nail under quite a bit of duress.

“They are good,” said Self.

“Not only are they fast, but they made shots tonight. You don't anticipate them making as many hard shots as they did. I think in the last three minutes they scored 20 points. They'd make a three, we'd make a two. Obviously we have some concerns defensively with our guards and they certainly have a talented group."

KU was really saved with its efficiency from the free throw line in this one (36-46). Yes, that’s right the exact area pundits and fans have been harping on all season long. If not for the stellar performance from the line, this one would’ve been very interesting at the end.

“There at the end they got on a roll that I don’t think was as much bad defense as it was them making really hard shots,” said Self referring to the 24 points Baylor put up in the last five minutes.

The savvy free throw shooting and Baylor’s three-point assault are not even the most amazing stats to come out of this one. Somehow KU managed to score 100 points, put up 63 shots, and the Jayhawks failed to make a single three-pointer. The last time Kansas failed to make a trey was 271 games ago at Texas (February 28, 2000).

“Also to take 63 shots and only shoot nine of them, Self continued. “That’s not going to happen very often.”

There were plenty of positives for KU to take out of this one.

Kansas shot a blistering 63 percent from the floor in the second half, scored 64 points,  and only turned it over once.

“The second half offensively is probably as well as we’ve played all year,” concluded Self.

Sophomore Darrell Arthur played 33 minutes, stayed out of foul trouble, and showed what he can do when he’s not sitting next to his coach. Shady put up 23 points - 16 of them after the intermission. Arthur looked aggressive, confident, and displayed an array of offensive skills rarely seen on the same night.

After a couple of subpar outings, Russell Robinson torched the Bears at the line (14-15 FT) and was aggressive all night. Russell gave up his duties as a distributor and fulfilled a scoring role in this one with 22 points but just one assist.

“I thought Russell played really well. He’ll say, ‘I didn’t play that good. The cat had 30 on me.’ Of course it was great to see him make his free throws.”

On the offensive end Sherron Collins was the catalyst and ignited KU’s transition game in the second stanza. Collins looked as quick as ever and changed the game in the second half with his penetrating ability. The sophomore scored 13 points in the second 20 minutes (17 points for the game) and dished out four assists in just 14 minutes of play.

“Shady was great. Russell was terrific but Sherron was the spark tonight,” Self stated. “The second half he changed the pace of the game and got us easy baskets in transition. He looked faster tonight than he has all year.”

It sure doesn’t get any easier for the Jayhawks. KU is headed for Austin to take on nationally ranked Texas, winners of six of its last seven games. The Longhorns survived a Saturday scare at Iowa State getting their sixth Big 12 win (19-4, 6-2), and they are salivating over the chance to take down a Kansas team currently tied for first place.

KU is certainly no stranger to this group of Longhorns. These two teams played two classics last season. Kevin Durant maybe gone but a host of Horns return including a guard tandem that’s as good as any.

Texas leads the league in three-point shooting (39 percent) behind the strength of A.J. Abrams and D.J. Augustin. Augustin and Abrams are also the league’s 2nd and 3rd leading scorers respectively.

“It’s the best collective set of guards back-to-back in the league,” said Self, referring to playing Baylor and Texas in consecutive games.

“We’re going against the best guard D.J. (Augustin) and (A.J. Abrams) has always been a thorn in our side. The one thing I’ll say is I’m not sure offensively we’ll play any guards that will actually play better than what Baylor played tonight. I could be wrong but hopefully no one is going to hang 77 on us again just from the guard spots.”

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