Originally published January 13, 2009 at 06:07p.m., updated January 13, 2009 at 10:30p.m.
287 total votes.
The Jayhawks take on in-state rival Kansas State Tuesday night at Allen Fieldhouse.
1620 total votes.
Collins 24 (7-for-11 shooting), Taylor 20, Aldrich 15 (5-for-6 shooting), Little 8, Morningstar 6, Reed 6, Markieff Morris 5, Marcus Morris 3.
KU made 28 of 48 shots (58.3 percent), 5 of 12 threes (41.7 percent) and 26 of 37 free throws (70.3 percent).
KSU was 25-for-64 from the field (39.1 percent), 5-for-16 from three (31.3 percent) and 16-for-22 from the free-throw line (72.7 percent).
The Wildcats out-rebounded the Jayhawks, 37-34.
KU had just 11 turnovers. KSU had forced at least 15 turnovers against its last eight opponents.
FINAL: KU defeats KSU, 87-71
A “Start the tractors” chant begins from the student section with just over a minute left.
Taylor puts in a left-handed layup with 24 seconds left to cap his bounceback performance. That gives him an even 20 points to go with three assists, four rebounds and two steals.
KU comes away with an impressive 16-point victory.
KU 81/KSU 68 — 1:45 left in game
KU’s end-game free-throw shooting should seal this one. By my count, the Jayhawks have made their last eight foul shots.
KU 77/KSU 64 — 3:54 left in game
It’s a battle of tempos right now. KSU wants to speed things up, while KU wants to slow them down, especially with Aldrich and Collins both sitting with four fouls.
KU survives 3 1/2 minutes and keeps its lead at 13 before Self checks Collins back in.
Collins immediately makes his presence known, driving in for a two off the glass.
Self wanted his other players to help Collins and Aldrich out more. He saw that in the last four minutes, when a make-shift lineup was able to maintain the Jayhawks’ 13-point lead.
KU 69/KSU 56 — 7:58 left in game
Taylor certainly seems to have his groove back.
He put in a high layup off the glass, drawing a foul before yelling out in celebration toward the students. Right now, he has 14 points, three assists and just one turnover.
KU’s triangle-and-two defense seems to be confusing KSU a bit. Pullen forces up a tough shot, but Sutton elevates for the offensive rebound before getting two and a foul. The foul is on Aldrich, and that’s his fourth whistle. Both he and Collins have four personals.
KU 58/KSU 46 — 11:45 left in game
KU is playing at K-State’s tempo right now. Because of the KSU traps, the Jayhawks are hoisting up quick shots. That’s probably a good thing for the Wildcats.
Clemente’s three-point play cut the KU lead to 45-42, but again the Jayhawks responded. Morningstar hit his first three, and Reed followed with a fast-break layup.
Aldrich picked up Colon’s fourth foul on a three-point play, and a minute later, Colon picked up his fifth foul on a whistle inside. It’s a big loss for KSU, as Colon had 12 points and six rebounds after not scoring in his last three games.
Collins has started to take over. He hits a deep three, then goes into the lane for a one-handed floater. KU’s lead is back up to 12.
KU 45/KSU 37 — 15:20 left in game
Markieff Morris gets KU’s first basket of the second half at the 17:28 mark, knuckle-balling in a 7-foot jumper.
The pace has picked up quite a bit. Collins and Taylor both get layups, but KU will need to step up defensively (and on the defensive boards) to keep this lead.
KU 39/KSU 33 — 17:59 left in game
This one looks like it’s going to be a game. KSU opens the second half with a 9-2 run, capped by a three from Pullen. Timeout KU.
The Wildcats have also started to trap on defense, while KU is struggling with its half-court offense. The Jayhawks are still looking for their first field goal of the second half.
Cole Aldrich 10 (4-for-4 shooting), Tyshawn Taylor 9, Mario Little 6, Sherron Collins 5, Marcus Morris 3, Tyrel Reed 2, Markieff Morris 2.
KU made 14 of 26 shots (53.8 percent), 2 of 8 threes (25 percent) and 7 of 13 free throws (53.8 percent). KU out-rebounded KSU, 18-17, in the first half.
The Wildcats, meanwhile, were 9-for-28 (32.1 percent) from the floor, 3-for-9 (33 percent) from three and 3-for-4 (75 percent) from the free-throw line.
Some halftime thoughts:
• KSU is going to have to force more turnovers if it wants to make a run at the Jayhawks. The Wildcats had just two steals in the first half, and KU had just six turnovers overall. I would expect we see both trapping and pressing from the ‘Cats in the second half.
• Aldrich was 4-for-4 in the first half, so the Jayhawks can’t forget about him inside. KSU doesn’t look to be doubling him, so KU needs to make more of an effort to look his way.
• Little showed what he could bring this team in the first half. Six points in eight minutes is the kind of production Self wants and needs from his small forward.
KU 37/KSU 24 — Halftime
Marcus Morris cleans up a Collins miss, grabbing the offensive board and putting it back in for two.
Frank Martin has been relatively calm all game, but he doesn’t hesitate to rip into Pullen after he picked up a reach-in foul on Morningstar 30 feet from the basket.
Self screams some, too, on a KSU free throw. He yelled at both Aldrich and Marcus Morris, telling them to look at him as he signaled the defensive call.
Great spot defense by Tyrone Appleton in the last 10 seconds of the half. He was subbed in for the Wildcats’ last possession, and he briefly knocked the ball away from Pullen before forcing the KSU guard to change his shot in mid-air. The three-pointer bounced off, and a pumped-up Collins gave Appleton congratulations as he left the court.
KU 30/KSU 20 — 3:34 left in 1st half
One side of Brady’s hair is sticking up, and the other side is laying flat. Wonder if he just got up.
Dominique Sutton hits a three for KSU. He was 3-for-14 from three (21.4 percent) coming in.
KU 28/KSU 16 — 5:14 left in 1st half
Collins gets his second whistle on an offensive foul. Self springs off the bench with his hands raised. I didn’t see the contact there. Taylor checks in.
For a second, we saw a flash of Travis Releford’s explosiveness. With his back to the rim, he spun quickly to the basket and was at the rim two steps later. Unfortunately for KU, he missed the easy finger-roll.
Little shows a bit of his repertoire inside, pivoting in the post before rattling in a tough mid-range shot.
KSU shows some of its defensive pressure out of a timeout, trapping Collins in the corner. Fred Brown gets a steal and puts in a layup at the other end. Colon gets a two on the next possession, and KSU has a 9-0 run.
KU answers, though. Collins dishes to Aldrich for a dunk, and Little drains a baseline jumper to get four points right back.
KU 20/KSU 5 — 11:54 left in 1st half
How long will this run go? Collins hits a floater in the lane then a three to make it 16-0.
Tyrel Reed, who is in mostly for his offense, gets a steal up top and finishes on the other end with a layup. Timeout KSU, as it’s 18-0 KU with 14:04 left in the half.
Darren Kent finally breaks the KSU drought with a three from the top. It comes at the 13:49 mark, meaning that the Wildcats went more than six minutes to start the game without scoring.
KU 11/KSU 0 — 15:50 left in 1st half
The decibel meter reaches 102.1 before tipoff. That’s by far the highest it’s been before a game this year.
KU seems to be feeding off the energy. Aldrich hits a shot, and Taylor steps confidently into a three to make it 5-0.
Aldrich has been a presence inside already. He was fouled going to the rim, and after hitting the two free throws, he elevated on the next possession to get an offensive rebound and stickback on a Morningstar miss.
No glove for Little in this game. Looks like the hand might be healing.
Speaking of Little, he gets his first field goal as a Jayhawk, putting in a layup off a nice no-look pass from Collins. Timeout KSU, as KU has started the game on an 11-0 run.
A change in the starting lineup: Mario Little will start along with Cole Aldrich, Tyshawn Taylor, Sherron Collins and Brady Morningstar.
Bad news for KU fans? John Higgins is officiating tonight. Remember the UMass game? And KU coach Bill Self's technical?
Here are some quick things you need to know about Kansas State, which comes in with an 11-4 record.
• The Wildcats offense starts with its defense. KSU's ball-pressure defense has forced at least 15 turnovers in eight straight games. During that stretch, opponents have averaged 19.8 turnovers per outing. Sherron Collins and Tyshawn Taylor will need to take care of the basketball.
• When KSU has lost, it has often been because of turnover problems itself. The Wildcats had 20 turnovers in their 61-53 loss against Oklahoma on Saturday.
• KSU comes in with two of the quickest guards in the country. Jacob Pullen (fast) is averaging 14.3 points per game and Denis Clemente (faster) is posting 12.2 points per contest. Both of those guards are shooting above 35 percent from three this season. Sixth man Fred Brown is third on the team in scoring (10.2 points per game) has made 43.2 percent of his three-pointers this year.
• The Wildcats have depth inside, but their big men have been inconsistent. Perfect example: Six-foot-10 forward Luis Colon scored 18 against Southern Miss. In his last three games, he has been held scoreless.
• Despite not having a dominant big man, KSU has been spectacular on the glass this season. The Wildcats lead the Big 12 in rebounding margin (plus-8.1), rebounds (41.1) and offensive rebounds per game (16.8).
• Dominique Sutton, at 6-foot-5, is the Wildcats' defensive stopper. Though he's listed as a small forward, I've been told he will guard Sherron Collins at times tonight.
Welcome back to the Newell Post Live, coming to you from Allen Fieldhouse where the Kansas Jayhawks are getting set to take on the Kansas State Wildcats.
I’m sure you’ve heard the news by now: Mario Little will play in tonight’s game and will not take a medical red-shirt.
So far, KU fans’ reaction to this has been mixed. Just look at this poll we put up today: the yeses and nos seem pretty close.
In my mind, Little absolutely did the right thing for this team.
1. KU needs him this year*. KU lost nine players from last year’s team. The Jayhawks needed a quick fix. Little was supposed to be that quick fix.
Junior-college guys aren’t brought in unless you need help right now (just ask former Kansas State football coach Ron Prince). KU needed him now. Little provides that, whether he’s at 100 percent or not.
Which brings me to my next point.
2. Even in Little isn’t 100 percent now, that doesn’t mean he won’t be 100 percent by March.
Fans and media alike seem to only remember what happened last (Remember any details from the Temple game? It was less than a month ago). Though KU is about halfway through its schedule, all the important games are still remaining. No one will remember UMass if KU sweeps Missouri. Nobody will complain about the Arizona game if the Jayhawks make a run to the Sweet 16.
If Little can be healthy for the last month of the season, it’s worth bringing him back this year.
3. With two years to plan, KU coach Bill Self can recruit to find someone to take Little’s place when he graduates. However, Self can’t do that now. The Jayhawks don’t have many other options if they can’t get Little on the court.
4. KU needs scoring from the small-forward position. And this isn’t a criticism of Brady Morningstar.
Let’s look at some stats from www.kenpom.com.
• KU is 293rd out of 344 Division-I teams in percentage of scoring from the small-forward position. Only 16.7 percent of the Jayhawks’ points have come from their small forwards. That ranks 11th in the Big 12 (K-State is 12th with 14 percent of its scoring coming from the small-forward position). KU needs more scoring from that spot, especially because Sherron Collins and Cole Aldrich aren’t getting much scoring help from anyone else right now.
• KU’s small-forward effective height is 243rd in the country. Essentially, this means KU is giving up size at that position to two-thirds of the teams it plays.
• Still, Morningstar has been a good offensive player by not trying to do too much. In fact, his offensive rating on kenpom.com, which is “the measure of personal offensive efficiency,” is 126.0, which is 41st out of all Division-I players. Generally, a 110 rating is considered good, and a 120 rating is considered excellent.
What can we take from this? Morningstar is helping the Jayhawks by not hurting them. He isn't taking too many shots, and he's making a lot of the few shots he's taking.
Little, though, can help this team by bringing offensive ability (and height) that Morningstar can’t. If he can do that this year with a team desperately needing offensive production from a small forward, he should do that.
Now, he's decided he will.