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Sunday, January 5, 2014

Keegan

Column: Better team won Sunday’s Top 25 showdown at Allen Fieldhouse

Kansas center Joel Embiid wrestles the ball away from San Diego State forward JJ O'Brien during the first half on Sunday, Jan. 5, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas center Joel Embiid wrestles the ball away from San Diego State forward JJ O'Brien during the first half on Sunday, Jan. 5, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse.

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It looked so much like countless other games played in Allen Fieldhouse during the Bill Self era.

The players from the better team defended the paint as if their lives depended on it. Their long, springy bodies trapped the post with such conviction.

They made easy shots for the opponent so difficult to come by that when they arrived, the minds of the shooters weren’t ready for them, so they hurried.

Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

Joel Embiid, Frank Mason, Andrew Wiggins discuss KU's 61-57 loss to San Diego State

Joel Embiid, Frank Mason, Andrew Wiggins discuss KU's 61-57 loss to San Diego State

Download podcast

Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

KU coach Bill Self discusses his team's 61-57 loss to No. 21 San Diego State

KU coach Bill Self discusses his team's 61-57 loss to No. 21 San Diego State

Download podcast

KU-SDSU box score, Jan. 5, 2014

Box Score

The Keegan Ratings - San Diego State

Keegan Ratings

At the other end, the better team executed a not-always-pretty inside-out job longer on substance than style.

The better team won the battle of the boards and had clutch responses to runs from the guys trying to catch up.

The better squad banked on an experienced, savvy, talented guard to make big plays.

What set this one apart from so many others, of course, was that the guys wearing enemy colors formed the better team.

An argument could be made that come March, Kansas will have improved at a faster pace than San Diego State, but the Aztecs left no question as to which team is playing better basketball in January.

The rankings and the oddsmakers’ lines suggest that San Diego State’s 61-57 Sunday afternoon victory against Kansas counts as an upset. Nothing about it felt that way.

KU’s three leading scorers on the afternoon — Frank Mason and Andrew Wiggins with 14 apiece, Joel Embiid with 12 — were freshmen and 115 minutes were played by frosh, compared to nine minutes for the Aztecs (12-1), whose only loss came at the hands of No. 1 Arizona.

KU’s abysmal shooting numbers (.298) were more a product of San Diego State’s defense, and to a smaller extent poor shot selection, than the Jayhawks seemed to realize afterward.

“We all missed shots that we usually make, and that can happen from time to time with a young team,” Wiggins said.

And it happens just about all the time to San Diego State opponents.

Josh Davis, a 6-foot-8, a fifth-year senior who used the same rule to transfer from Tulane that Tarik Black used to come to Kansas, did a nice job of guarding Wiggins and contributed 10 points and 14 rebounds to the winning effort.

Wiggins made 4 of 14 shots.

“He didn’t really affect me,” Wiggins said. “I just think I missed shots that I usually make.”

Defensive juggernauts such as San Diego State tend to leave opposing players thinking that way, but it was no coincidence that each KU player, except Embiid and Mason, missed more shots than he made.

Self faces a different challenge with this bunch than most because of its inexperience, coupled with a basketball slate that’s the equivalent of an academic schedule packed with a variety of calculus classes taught in Chinese one day, Russian the next.

Will it make or break the young Jayhawks, who haven’t yet mastered the art of winning close ones?

The last easy foe Kansas faced was Towson on Nov. 22 in Allen Fieldhouse.

This week’s challenge, at Oklahoma on Wednesday and at home Saturday against Kansas State, is followed by three consecutive games against Big 12 schools ranked in the top 13 in the nation.

The Sooners (12-2) aren’t ranked, but are coming off a road victory against Texas and have the most improved player in the Big 12, senior Cameron Clark.

In 2006, Self won a share of the Big 12 regular-season title and won the conference tournament, starting three freshmen. If he does it again, it will be a tremendous achievement. It’s a realistic goal, yet far from a sure thing.

Comments

Ian Legler 3 months, 1 week ago

So we've lost 4 games by a combined 17 points. And every loss has come at the hands of a team currently in the Top 25.

Guys the sky isn't falling, the Hawks will be fine. Stop acting like the world is ending.

3

Preston Dwiggins 3 months, 1 week ago

I traveled 5 hours in a blizzard yesterday to see our Jayhawks play and want to say this...

Remember how we played against Duke, that was no fluke. It's the same roster, just a different day. We'll be fine. I have faith in Bill and staff.

4

Clarence Haynes 3 months, 1 week ago

What befuddles me is the ability of the team to close in on opponents (e.g. Florida, Villanova, Colorado, and SDSU) toward the end of the game. Why can't they perform at that level much earlier in the game! if so, we'd be 11-2 or even 12-1.

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Scut Farkus 3 months, 1 week ago

Wiggins hits 7 of 14 (as he will 90% of the time) and KU wins. Give it a rest. This team is good and will only get better. They will be in the hunt for the Big 12 title and will make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament. My only criticism was why were Black and Traylor on the floor at the same time?

1

Kevin Huffman 3 months, 1 week ago

Ok, I'm somewhere in the middle.

There's those of you who say we're goint to the NIT and then there's those of you who say, eh, we'll lose 2 game in the conference and be a 1 or 2-seed.

More realistically we'll lose about 5 or 6 games in the conference and have the potential to still win the Big XII Tournament and be on a hot streak and a dangerous team going in, but even then we'd probably be like a 5-seed is all.

Something like (23-10) & a 4 or 5. In years that we've been a 4 or so we've usually made it to the Sweet 16 but then lost to the 1-seed - I can remember instances agaisnst Illinois in one of Self's years there for example.

Ok, UConn back in '10/'11 was (26-9) & a 3. I looked and in that season if we were (23-10) yeah, we probably would've been a 4 or 5 like I said particularly if we won the conference tournament.

I don't think we're 8 or 9-seed bad like in the early Collison / Hinrich years nor do I think that this teams going to suddenly emerge as the overwhelming favorite in the conference and hardly lose at all.

My main hope is that we're just trending in the right direction at the end of the season much like UConn did a few years back when they won it all as a non-top 2-seed.

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Glen Miller 3 months, 1 week ago

We are weak. There is no defensive intensity or killer instinct in ANY of these players. I have watched KU basketball for many many years and this is one of the most frustrating teams of all time. All the talent in the world, but we can't guard, shoot, rebound or win 50/50 balls. ALL staples of a Bill Self coached KU squad. We are young, I get that.... but we should have an idea by now that defense and toughness are what it's going to take to win. There is absolutely 0 leadership out there right now. It's frustrating to watch. I keep waiting for the light to come on, but it never happens. Maybe this year the light bulb is just burnt out. I really don't like this one and done crap either. I wish they'd just let these kids go to the NBA or tell them they have to stay 3 years. Henry, Selby, McLemore, and now Wiggins....... every single one of them had parts of their game that could have benefited them had they stuck around. Wiggins is a freak athlete..... but #1 pick he is not, not to this point. He's not even the best player on his team in my opinion. Joel Embiid is our best player. I'm about as frustrated as I have been about our Jayhawks and I just don't see how we're going to win the Big 12 without these kids opening their eyes and realizing what it takes to win TOGETHER.

1

Cody Stumma 3 months, 1 week ago

We'll make the tournament fine. Jeez, it's just a game.

2

Scott Burkhart 3 months, 1 week ago

I think this is what you wind up with chasing the one and dones. We have a team full of one year players, no veteran leadership and no way to sit the freshmen because you have to have bodies on the floor. Lucky to make the (N)ot (I)nvited (T)ournament this year.

0

Robert Rauktis 3 months, 1 week ago

Rebounding reflects desire, not press clippings; probably doesn't even reflect talent. If you're getting hammered on the glass, and you aren't dwarfs, you don't want to be in the game. Rebounding neutralizes a lot of press clippings.

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Rodney Crain 3 months, 1 week ago

There is no way at all that a B12 title is a realistic goal. Tom K. this team has so many issues, there is no way they will contend for a tittle. B12 or otherwise. The players were flat out beat tonight. 19 OR (poor rebounding), turnovers, soft defense, poor outside shooting, on and on and on. They find ways to lose. The usual Holiday break is having no effect on the young players, what makes you think the B12 schedule is going to make them any better when the losses start piling up? I know you got to pipe out the hope, heck what else can you write about but every B12 team smells, heck sees blood and this team is going to have to fight every night home and away for each win.

Frankly TK, this team does not have that kind of fight in them. They are just biding time till the NBA draft, at least that is what it looks like. A few of them deserve to wear a Kansas Uni, but most of them, I hope they do leave this year. Tharpe is starting to understand it, said it tonight. Too bad it is probably to late.

0

Charles Logan 3 months, 1 week ago

I agree with Joe. The media needs to stop hyping up the whole "One and done"...... Freshman lottery pick thing. The NBA shouldn't even be considered right now. These guys are having problems at the college level. The NBA will have them in the "D" league......

I also agree with Keegan: "The better team won" The waaaayyyy better team won. They dominated Kansas! This KU team doesn't have "IT". The "it" factor past KU teams have had. This team needs a Kevin Young,....a Jarrod Haas,........ a Keith Langford...... Someone that gives the team ENERGY from their play.

This team can make the NCAA tournament, but right now they are first round knock out material.... in other words.... One and done.......

Doesn't mean they wont get better, but right now, they don't have "it".

0

Joe Ross 3 months, 1 week ago

I'm all but decided that the entire slate of freshmen could benefit from an extra year in college. Statement of opinion and not of fact. Just sayin'...

2

Doug Cramer 3 months, 1 week ago

Big 12 schedule will be a meat grinder.

We got to block out when rebounding. That killed us today.

1

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