Intangibles Help KU Top Wildcats

If you are a fan of college basketball you had to love what you saw in the Little Apple on Saturday. Excellent atmosphere and two teams going at it like their seasons were at stake. Phog.net recaps the intangibles that allowed KU to earn the victory.

It was everything it was supposed to be and more.

We knew it would be physical. We knew both teams would go at it hard for a full 40 minutes but this one was so good it took 45 minutes to decide a winner.

KU persevered through foul trouble, Sherron Collins' cramps, an onslaught on the offensive glass, and a raucous crowd to win in overtime in Manhattan, 81-79. It gives Kansas a huge leg up in conference play with a spotless 6-0 record (20-1 overall). The next closest teams have two losses (Texas and Missouri).

Collins making a senior play once again in a big moment got the hoop and the harm with time winding down in overtime. It was even more clutch considering Collins was clearly laboring and forced to come out of the game just a few minutes prior. It was a huge play by a player who hasn't really played particularly well the last few games. As he has so many times in his career, with the lights the brightest, Collins again stepped up. His driving floater off the glass will be featured in every highlight. But a lot of the things that don't show up in box scores are what won this game for Kansas.

It wasn't just Collins guts. It was junior Cole Aldrich's ability to play with four fouls since beyond the five minute mark in regulation. It was Tyrel Reed's strip after what could've been a disastrous turnover at the end of regulation. It was plays like Brady Morningstar's back tap off a missed free throw with under two minutes left to earn Kansas another possession. It was head coach Bill Self's ability to utilize a triangle-and-two with his team mired in foul trouble. He made all the right moves in this one. It wasn't just the talent on the floor that won this game.

Tyshawn Taylor, whose made more news with his mouth and internet postings in the last month than he has on the court, stepped up and gave KU the boost it needed. Taylor played 30 minutes, went 8-9 from the free throw line and scored 12 big points in this one. It was especially crucial with Xavier Henry continuing to struggle with six points and four turnovers and Taylor handled the point when Collins was out.

Brady Morningstar receives a lot of criticism from fans. There are plenty who believe he doesn't belong in the lineup. Simply put, you don't know basketball if you don't think Brady can play. This kid is not an athlete who plays basketball, he's a basketball player and there's a difference. He provided tough defense on Denis Clemente and Jacob Pullen. He reached in for steals several times and notched three thefts on the night. On the offensive end he was one of five Jayhawks in double-figures with 14 points on 4-5 shooting including 2-3 from three-point range.

Aldrich again proved he's back. KU found him more often in this one and he created opportunities taking 13 shots and scoring 18 points. It was another double-double for the best big man in the Big 12. Again, it won't show up in the boxscore but his aggressiveness trapping the post and showing on ball screens were crucial to KU's defensive success.

Self was concerned about the offensive rebounding of K-State and Kansas did give up a lot of second opportunities and was outrebounded by three (36-33).  But Kansas won the battle at the free throw line giving up just 22 attempts to the Wildcats and earning 33 attempts, ironically the number K-State usually averages.

Kansas has a 54-game home winning streak and it is proud of protecting its home turf but nothing makes a coach and a team feel better than a tough road win on a ranked opponents home court. Those are the wins that allow you to puff out your chest and earn you conference titles. Wins like this set you apart from the rest. Kansas deserves to return to the number one ranking and the Jayhawks made it back in style.

You can be sure this will be a happy bus ride back to Lawrence and these kids have earned the right to celebrate before getting back to the business of winning another Big 12 title.

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