KU's loss in Bramlage Mausoleum back on January 30th caused a lot of people to question this team. One has to wonder if the players themselves might have been among them.
Sure, there came the requisite February wins over mutts like Colorado
and Iowa State, but subsequent losses to Texas and Oklahoma State
didn't steel anyone's resolve that this might be a final four team.
This nationally-televised win, however, should show everyone (including
the team) how well this group can play, even when they aren't playing
It certainly wasn't shooting that got it done for KU. Granted, Kansas
shot a respectable 47.8 percent from behind the arc, but for the night,
they shot a not-so-stellar 46.5 percent overall.
The difference this night was in what Bill Self would call
“hustle plays”: rebounding, steals, grabbing loose
“We did a good job of being aggressive and not backing down,
just hitting them and going to get rebounds,” Sherron Collins
Saturday night's stat sheet seems to bear that out: KU outrebounded the
bubble-riding Wildcats, 41-34, including a decisive 23-16 edge on the
Kansas maintained that aggressive mindset most of the night. They also
stole the ball from KSU 15 times. KSU returned the favor just eight
times. Kansas turned the ball over 14 times, compared to KSU's 20 times.
Kansas State coach Frank Martin said that his team didn't understand
the level at which this game was going to be played, and that
contributed to the lopsided rebounding and turnover numbers, especially
in the first half.
“Two key stats when you play Kansas, especially in this
building, is that you can't turn the ball over because it allows them
to get out and run. Number two, you have to rebound the ball on the
defensive side. At halftime, we had 14 turnovers and I believe they had
15 offensive rebounds and I think that was the difference in the game."
Kansas also showed more energy Saturday than they had in the past three
or four games combined. The difference was evident to both teams.
"I think we came out with a lot of energy tonight,” Brandon Rush said. “In the first five minutes of the game we were the
aggressors. That was our game plan. We came out and executed our
offense and got the crowd behind us.”
Kansas State's Clent Stewart saw it, too.
"They played with a lot of energy, especially at the beginning. They
came out and jumped on us early and that was hard to overcome. It's
hard enough to win on the road as it is and anytime you get down and
dig yourself a hole it going to be really hard."
The late Al McGuire used to say that the most crucial times in any game
are the first four minutes of each half. Four minutes into the first
half, Kansas was ahead, 15-6, en route to a 41-29 halftime lead. In the
first four minutes of the second half, the Jayhawks outscored the
Fighting Beasleys, 11-0, to grab a 52-29 lead. KSU wouldn't get closer
than 13 the rest of the way.
KSU's Michael Beasley – who dropped 39 points and grabbed 11
boards for his 847th double-double of the year – noted more
than just KU's energy. He saw something that KU has lacked at times
"(Kansas) came out and played with a purpose. They had more will than
we had. We had no will to win."
Maybe that's the most important thing KU fans and – if
necessary – KU players should take away from this game.
KU has played well several times this season, but everyone but the most
ardent Jayhawk fan has wondered at times whether or not this team had
either toughness or a killer instinct or both.
What is a sense of purpose other than toughness and a will to knock an
opponent down and keep a foot on their throat until the final horn?
It was especially heartening to see it happen with postseason play just
around the corner.
Kansas made the blue-collar plays Saturday night, and those plays are
simply a product of effort. In those tough, grind-it-out games when
shots aren't falling – see UCLA last March – those
are the plays a team has to make to have a chance.
This win was all about focus, energy and effort. If this team is going
to play another 11 games and end the season where everyone thought they
would before the year started, they're going to have to bring all three
at the same sky-high level we saw Saturday night.
Payback Win Should Be Turning Point
Phog.net Top Stories
Kansas True Freshman Delivers Big HitKansas Jayhawks true freshman safety Mike Lee delivered a big hit on a Texas Tech runner. Lee came into tonight with four tackles in his young career and he made the fifth one…
Scout CFB7:22 AM
Big 12 Recruiting Notebook (9/29/16)News, notes and recruiting scoop out of the Big 12...
Scout FootballYesterday at 8:47 AM
Big 12 Football Roundup: Week 3 Top StoriesAll you need to know about Big 12 teams leading into Week Three of the college football season.
Big 12 Recruiting Notebook (9/15/16)News, notes and recruiting scoop out of the Big 12...
Scout's Inside Recruiting ScoopSep. 14 -- What's the latest on the top recruits in the country? Scout's basketball recruiting team -- Evan Daniels, Brian Snow and Josh Gershon -- break down the latest, including…
Bruin Report Online09/14/2016