KU outrebounding USC 42-30. Here was your difference in the game. Darnell Jackson and Darrell Arthur were all over the glass, as were the guards. Chalmers and Stewart grabbed seven boards each. It also helped that SC's Taj Gibson, its best frontcourt player, was saddled most of the game with foul trouble. Said my man D-Block: “That was just a whole mindset for everybody, even the guards, just crash the glass, even on the offensive ends. Keep going until somebody gets the loose ball. If a ball’s on the ground, make sure somebody dives after that. That’s what we did, we came out pretty successful on the glass.”
Chalmers late-game heroics. Just like last year, at the end of games, when the Jayhawks need a big shot, it was Chalmers who stepped up and wanted the ball. After blowing an eight point lead with two minutes left, Rod Stewart had the ball in his hands with 25 seconds left and five on the shot clock. He looked to the post first, but couldn't get Jackson, so he dished to Chalmers who took and buried a dagger NBA three. "I’ve always felt like I should get the ball at the end of the game," said Chalmers. "Just because I feel like I can make a play and get either me a shot or my teammates a shot, and my teammates have trusted me to do that, too.” Without Collins, Mario must become more of a scorer. He embraced that yesterday.
Russell Robinson locks down Mayo. Yes, OJ had 19 points, but with Robinson hounding him all game long, he shot just 6-21 from the field, 3-11 from three point range. Everyone knows Mayo is a super-scorer who can go off on anyone. Robinson stayed in front of him and forced many bad jump shots, which Bill Self will gladly take. Said Coach Bill Self: "I thought Russell defended him very, very well.”
The Weak Beav
Brandon Rush was as bad as he could have been. He looked like a guy coming off ACL surgery. Slow on his defensive rotations, short on his jump shots, and lacked a little confidence. The capper was the wide open bunny that if healthy, he dunks with ease. He couldn't have missed it that badly if he tried. As bad as he was, KU still won a game on the road against a ranked opponent.
More Turnovers than Davis Bakery. Nothing says sloppy basketball more than 22 turnovers and six assists. Chalmers, Stewart, and Arthur were the main offenders; all three have five apiece. As good as Chalmers was, he is a walking turnover and has been his entire career. The best thing Self has done over the last three years was to move him off the ball and hand the reigns over to Robinson and Collins. You can see how badly Collins was missed on so many levels yesterday.
I sound like a broken record. Bad free throw shooting is becoming an epidemic. This time it was 11-18. Chalmers missed three, Shady missed his only pair, and Jackson split his pair. Talk about old bits.
Late game execution was awful. This is a veteran ball club. There is no reason for KU to blow an eight point lead with two minutes to go, but it almost happened. Turnovers and bad shots were the reasons. KU's halfcourt offense still has no identity, but someone in the post (Shady Arthur this means you) needs to become a go to guy.
Game Quotes (courtesy of kusports.com)
Bill Self on closing out the game late in heart-attack fashion: “We never had the game totally under control, but we were up eight with three (minutes) left, you’re supposed to put that game away. We found a way to, I think we turned it over twice in that stretch and they scored a couple of times and certainly made it very entertaining for fans, but that shouldn’t happen with a veteran ballclub. Hopefully that won’t happen again.”
Bill Self on Mario Chalmers’ game overall: “I’ll be the first to tell you I wasn’t pleased at all with his play from a mental standpoint at all. But good gosh, he competed hard, showed a lot of poise and made some big plays down the stretch. And of course, the (late three) was the biggest shot of the game. But you’ve got to win games when you don’t play great, especially on the road. That was one of those grind-it-out games in which our guys competed hard. We didn’t execute worth a flip, but we certainly competed hard. Give Tim (Floyd) and his guys credit, they guard very well, too.”
Bill Self on the play where Chalmers hit the late three to ice it: “We subbed small, so that way we could defend a three-point shot potentially on the other end. And then we ran what we call ‘Five-Game,’ and we didn’t execute it very good. I mean, it wasn’t executed well at all. The shot clock ran down, and then Mario just rised up and made a shot behind the ball screen. But it wasn’t great executions by any means. In that situation I’d much rather attack the rim.”
Bill Self on his team defending O.J. Mayo: “We didn’t do anything special. All we did was just try to guard him. I think O.J.’s about as talented as any kid I’ve ever coached against, maybe the most talented kid I’ve ever coached against. There’s a lot of ‘em up there, but certainly nobody I think has more raw talent. The whole deal was just make him earn everything, try to keep him off the free throw line, which we did a bad job of the first half, and hope he shoots a bad percentage and gets tired. And I think that’s what happened. We traded guys on him and he played the entire 40. And he missed some shots because maybe his legs weren’t under him. But give Russell (Robinson) credit on that. I thought Russell defended him very, very well.”
Mario Chalmers on making a statement against O.J. Mayo and USC: “I think we made a good statement tonight. I mean, I think we just proved that not one player can beat us. Chase tried it, and O.J. tried it tonight, but I think our defense is too good at focusing and just trying to stop the team.”
Mario Chalmers on the play where he hit the big three: “The original play was trying to get the ball to (Darnell Jackson) in the post, but they kind of sagged back, and I’d seen that there were only five seconds left, and the person that was guarding me kinda sagged back, so I got the ball back and just shot it and I was fortunate for it to go in...I’ve always felt like I should get the ball at the end of the game, just because I feel like I can make a play and get either me a shot or my teammates a shot, and my teammates have trusted me to do that, too.”
Darnell Jackson on the importance of winning the rebounding battle: “That was just a whole mindset for everybody, even the guards, just crash the glass, even on the offensive ends. Keep going until somebody gets the loose ball. If a ball’s on the ground, make sure somebody dives after that. That’s what we did, we came out pretty successful on the glass.”
Darnell Jackson on Mario Chalmers being a clutch shooter: “I think Mario’s the big-shot guy. If Mario’s off, then it’s gonna be Brandon. It’s always one of those two who’s always gonna make big shots for us.”
Darnell Jackson on O.J. Mayo: “He’s just a regular guy. I don’t see anything impressive about him. He’s a player. I respect him as a player. Other guys shouldn’t give him that much respect on the court. Because if you love to compete, go out there and compete against him. He’s just another player. He’s just like us. He puts on a jersey, a practice jersey, just like everybody else, every day...I’m not saying we’ve got better guards. He’s a great player. He was making some shots, getting fouled, but I think our guards did better on him today in the game.”
Russell Robinson on O.J. Mayo: “He’s a pretty good player. He can get a shot whenever. But the main thing today was he played 40 minutes, so he was a little tired, so he kinda settled for a lot of shots and made my job a lot easier.”
Rodrick Stewart on his reception at the Galen Center, including the student section chanting against him: “I expected way worse, but that was cool.”