When talented young basketball players look bad, they can look really bad, and when they look good, they can look really good. Naturally, the tendency is to get too down on them when they look bad and to get too high on them when they look good.
The Jayhawks didn’t look good kicking off Big 12 Conference play Tuesday night. They looked great at the start of an 87-71 victory against Kansas State, which of course means it’s time to get too high on them.
OK, here goes: The way Kansas looked in taking an 18-0 lead, it’s not unrealistic to believe it could take a 6-0 record into Waco, Texas, for a Big Monday matchup with Baylor on Feb. 2.
No, really, not just because by the time K-State attempted a shot Tuesday night, Kansas led, 9-0. Look at the schedule. Next up is a Saturday game at Colorado, then back home Monday for Texas A&M;, then at Iowa State for a Saturday game. Four days after that, it’s off to Lincoln, Neb., to play Nebraska. Three days after that, Colorado comes to Lawrence for its annual Allen Fieldhouse visit.
Kansas starts 6-0, and it will storm into Waco with its confidence flying high.
Sure, we’re getting way ahead of ourselves, but young talent has a way of having that effect. It makes you see a bright future, especially when Tyshawn Taylor weaves through traffic in a blink, soars and lays one off the glass with his left hand as if it were his dominant hand.
Taylor’s 20-point night pushed his season scoring average to 10.1 points and gave Kansas something in common with 24 of the 25 nationally ranked schools: a third scorer averaging in double figures. (Minnesota, with just one, is the exception.)
Taylor and Collins had big nights, combining to outscore the Wildcats’ quick guard tandem, 44-22. Whereas KU’s guards generated 27 points on 18 shots from the field, the K-State guards scored 17 points on 28 field-goal attempts..
Collins remains a little quick with the trigger at times and can force the action and turn the ball over more than a point guard should — he did so four times in this one — but to an extent, that’s the price of doing business at such a high speed and in such an aggressive manner. He’s a vicious attack dog, not a wimpy show dog.
True, it wasn’t a perfect night for Kansas (12-4). K-State was able to pull all the way back to within 45-42, a brief scare until Brady Morningstar swished such a soft three-pointer from the left corner to take 16,300 fingers away from the panic button.
K-State did get 16 offensive rebounds. Much like Bob Huggins’ teams through the years, it can be said of Frank Martin’s team that its best offense is a missed shot.
All things considered, though, it was an encouraging and entertaining night for Kansas. The ghost of former fan favorite Sasha Kaun, now playing for big bucks in Russia, even made an appearance in the fieldhouse. Unfortunately, it came when Tyrel Reed was at the free-throw line. Reed, who made 20 of 21 free throws to start the season, missed his first two attempts of the game, running his misfire streak to four until hitting his last two.
Now it’s off to Boulder, the perfect place to pick up a road victory, with half the place packed with KU fans and the worst team in the conference as the opposition.