Shady is a beast - In front of 27 NBA scouts, Darrell Arthur showed off his mid-range stroke. He had 10 field goals on his way to 22 points. He was starting to get more and more aggressive with each passing game and is the first option offensively. His first half performance mirrored that of KU's. For KU to go deep in the tournament, Shady is going to have to keep this play up.
Lock-down on the guards - Russell Robinson and Brandon Rush did a terrific job defending the All-American Candidate Point Guard. Augustine struggled all night, shooting just 1-13 from the field. Really you can throw Mario Chalmers and Sherron Collins into the mix as well for the jobs they did on SG A.J. Abrams. The deadly sniper scored 14 points, but hit just three of his 10 three point tries and didn't really hurt the Jayhawks.
The First Half - I came away at halftime thinking that may have been the best half of basketball KU has played all year. Arthur and Jackson combined for 25 points in the first half and got whatever they wanted. Rush had seven points and was active on the boards. The ball movement was crisp against the UT zone, forcing Rick Barnes to go to more man to man than he probably wanted to.
The Weak Beav
Box Out! - I must have yelled that five times at my TV in the last 10 minutes of the game. Whether it was Justin Mason flying in for a tip in or Damion James crashing to glass time and time again, KU acted as if they had never been taught how to box out in their lives during the second half. Texas outrebounded and out hustled the Hawks to the tune of 23-12 in the final 20 minutes. Mason, a 6'2 guard, had five offensive boards. That cannot happen. Arthur and Jackson combined for just 10 rebounds. That also cannot happen.
Said coach Bill Self: "I think that they just outmanned us the second half. It does surprise me because that was all we talked about at halftime that they would come and really get after the glass, because you know Rick looked at the rebounding stats at halftime and mounded their butt, so that was the focus and we talked about that at halftime and our guys didn’t respond to their aggressiveness, and our guards just did a really poor jobs blocking off in the second half. I thought Mason, of all the guys who were their best rebounders in the second half, I thought it was Mason.”
Three point shooting, Where have you gone? - For the second consecutive game, the Jayhawks thee-point game was non-existant. They shot just 4-17 for the game and are now 15% in that two-game span. Russell Robinson should not be taking five threes in any game, let alone one of this magnitude. On the last play of the game, trailing by three, a play had been called for Chalmers, but according to Self “It was a bad possession. We had something we wanted to run, we took the ball to the wrong side of the floor and it killed the play. And those things unfortunately happen. We had enough time to do it, eight seconds is enough time to do it.” Sherron Collins three-point stroke hasn't been the same all year long.
Atchley and James, can someone guard them? - As good as the guard defense was, KU had no answer for both Atchley and James. The face-up five man Atchely was perfect from the field, 6-6, including four threes, three of which he was left alone. James took over the game in the second half, hitting two threes and dominating the boards. He was too quick for anyone who guarded him. Bringing KU's bigs away from the basket is one of the main reasons UT was so successful in the second half.
Russell was offensive, offensively - I am a fan of Robinson. He is tough as nails and plays stellar defense. But his offensive game leaves a lot to be desired. He really isn't a threat out there and can be left alone if need be. He also seems to be falling in love with the three. The problem is he shoots only 31% and has taken just five less threes than he did in 12 less games than last season. In 34 minutes last night, he jacked up five deep balls, making just one. A head-scratcher to me was why he was on the floor when KU needed a three to tie the game at the end, while Collins was on the bench.
This was a tough pill to swallow for KU. They played so well in the first half, but Texas adjusted to the post domination of Jackson and Arthur chopping at them. KU's deep shooters didn't respond. Rush again disappeared when his team needed him the most down the strecth, while Chalmers wanted the ball every time down the floor and almost single-handedly forced OT. The lack of aggressiveness on the glass in the second half was disturbing. Chalmers and Robinson did a great job limiting Augustine and Abrams, but Augustine's driving ability and KU constantly switching always seemed to be leaving Atchley or James open. The lack of three point shooting has to concern Self.
That said, it's not as if Kansas lost to Iowa State. Texas is the #11 team in the country and has wins on their resume over UCLA and Tennessee. That makes last night's win their third win over a top six team this year. That is extremely impressive. Kansas on the other hand doesn't have a single win over any team in the current top 25. I still like the Jayhawks' chances against anyone on a neutral floor. I'm just worried that last night's loss could really hurt them in the Big 12 race and going for the #1 seed. Kansas now sits in second behind K-State.
K-State's schedule the rest of the way is soft. They get Texas at home and road games at Baylor and KU. Every other game is one they will win. Now KU has to beat the Wildcats at home and make sure they don't lose again the rest of the way, including a trip to A&M. Texas is next five games: at Baylor, A&M, Oklahoma, at K-State, at Texas Tech. No way they go better than 4-1 tops. I think 3-2 is realistic. The bottom line: Kansas must win out and get to at least the semi's of the Big 12 tournament to get that coveted #1 seed. The Big 12 tournament will be spectacular this year as any one of five teams can win it.
Game Quotes (courtesy of KUsports.com)
Darrell Arthur on Damion James: “He came in the second half hot. He got two quick fouls in the first half, came out extra aggressive in the second half, made some big plays for them.”
Darrell Arthur on how Texas cut down on KU’s offensive production in the second half: “They chopped the posts a lot. It was hard to score down low in the second half. We still had opportunities to score, good shots. We just didn’t knock them down. Second half, nothing was going our way. They played real good the second half.”
Mario Chalmers on losing after holding D.J. Augustin to just one made field goal: “I think it’s very frustrating. He’s the key to their team, and we did a good job on him and A.J. It was just their other players that killed us in the end.”
Mario Chalmers on the last play: “I think it was just a mix-up with us. We were trying to run a play at the end and we just didn’t execute it to perfection, that was it.”
Mario Chalmers on the Big 12 race: “It’s very wide open. We’ve got a couple more games and we’ve got to keep playing our ball and keep focused and keep winning...We’re still the favorite. That’s what’s in our minds, we think we’re the favorite, we think we’re the best team in the conference still.”
Mario Chalmers on what was missing in the game for KU: “I think what was missing was stops down late in the game. We had a couple of rebounds that we missed at the end that could have helped us win the game, but sometimes stuff like that happens and we’ve just got to do a better job of not letting it happen.”
Mario Chalmers on A.J. Abrams’ block of Brandon Rush: “He was wide open, I don’t know how A.J. got back. But that was a big play for A.J. and a big play for Texas.”
Bill Self on Texas’ big men Connor Atchley and Damion James: “It surprises anybody when guys go 4-for-4 from three, I mean even guards don’t do that all the time. He’s a good shooter. And Damion had a chance to sit on that bench the first half and boil a little bit because he wants to be out there and come out and just kicked our butts the second half.”
Bill Self on getting outrebounded in the second half: “I think that they just outmanned us the second half. It does surprise me because that was all we talked about at halftime that they would come and really get after the glass, because you know Rick looked at the rebounding stats at halftime and mounded their butt, so that was the focus and we talked about that at halftime and our guys didn’t respond to their aggressiveness, and our guards just did a really poor jobs blocking off in the second half. I thought Mason, of all the guys who were their best rebounders in the second half, I thought it was Mason.”
Bill Self on A.J. Abrams’ block on Brandon Rush: “He was open. We had a good look, we weren’t necessarily trying to shoot a three there. We have a couple options off a little play we run, but he was open, Brandon took his time getting it off and A.J. did a nice job of closing. A really nice job.”
Bill Self on his team’s defense: “I thought (Augustin) got in the paint too much, but he’s not gonna go 1-for-13 (a lot). So obviously I can’t be upset with our on-the-ball defense with him, but he controls the whole game and the pace of the game, and I thought we did a pretty good job on him. I actually thought we did a good job on A.J. after the game started, after the first 10 minutes, but we just did a real poor job on Atchley, and Damion’s a hard matchup, because if he’s gonna step out and hit threes and he’s gonna put it on the deck and get past you, that’s a hard matchup. We did a real poor job on Mason and Damion the second half rebounding the ball.”
Bill Self on the final play: “It was a bad possession. We had something we wanted to run, we took the ball to the wrong side of the floor and it killed the play. And those things unfortunately happen. We had enough time to do it, eight seconds is enough time to do it.”