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Thursday, February 25, 2016

Keegan

Tom Keegan: Jayhawks resolve to make the most of chances

Kansas forward Landen Lucas (33) gets up to defend against a shot from West Virginia guard Tarik Phillip (12) during the first half, Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2016 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Landen Lucas (33) gets up to defend against a shot from West Virginia guard Tarik Phillip (12) during the first half, Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2016 at Allen Fieldhouse.

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Baylor standout forward Taurean Prince took the question head on and spit out the truth in concise fashion.

The question: What makes Kansas so tough to put away?

Prince’s answer: “They don’t stop. They just continuously grind it out.”

That answer applies to how Kansas plays even within possessions that take a negative turn. One statistic stood out to Baylor coach Scott Drew. The Bears turned 20 offensive rebounds into just 14 points. That’s quite a testament to how Kansas is not giving up easy baskets anywhere on the floor.

The deeper Tuesday night’s 66-60 victory at Baylor progressed, the tougher KU’s defense became. Baylor shot 4-of-16 in the final 12:34. The Bears settled for seven three-point shots during that stretch and made just two.

Watching opponents taking shots near the hoop against Kansas these days resembles watching someone who really has to go try to hurry to the restroom in a really crowded bar. Opponents look so rushed, but too crowded to find an easy path to points.

It has such a different look from when KU’s conference road record stood at 1-3 after losses in Morgantown, W.Va., Stillwater, Okla., and Ames, Iowa. Oklahoma State and Iowa State combined to shoot .509 from the field and .476 from three.

In KU’s four road games since then, all victories, TCU, Oklahoma, Kansas State and Baylor have shot a combined .341 overall and .326 from three in front of home crowds. In each game, the home team’s leading scorer was held below his conference scoring average.

These days, the home team consistently looks like the rattled one, Kansas the composed one. The Jayhawks make themselves at home everywhere now.

How did such a transformation take place?

“We noticed watching the tape, on the road when we were down, we were just panicking, and we didn’t do that at home when we were down the same amount, even more sometimes, and we were able to come back,” junior center Landen Lucas said. “And we were like, if we just do the same kind of stuff, stay together like we do at home, we’re able to win those games. Once the Iowa State game passed, we figured that out, and we talked about it, and I think we’ve done a good job changing that.”

Good is an understatement.

Baylor took an eight-point lead on Terry Maston’s bucket with 13:48 remaining and scored 13 points the rest of the way, the final three on a meaningless bucket with two seconds left. That’s some pretty serious defense.

— Sports editor Tom Keegan appears on “The Drive” every Sunday at 10:30 p.m. on WIBW-TV.

Comments

Len Shaffer 1 year, 1 month ago

I'd say the Baylor game was KU's best defensive performance of the year.

It's been very encouraging to see the defense coming around so well, and a lot of the credit has to go to Landen. Now if he could just add even a LITTLE bit of offense, this team may well be unstoppable.

Robert Brock 1 year, 1 month ago

Most of the defensive credit should go to Wayne Selden; holding Prince to 4-13 shooting was important. Prince had been devastating good teams lately.

Suzi Marshall 1 year, 1 month ago

The the turnaround since those three straight road losses can be mostly attributed to the pride these guys feel about Kansas and their teammates, which was in full bloom during the WUGs In addition to the pride factor, a) it's obvious Mason had more injuries after the OU game than just his elbow, probably some kind of pulled muscle.

b) the heady and touch play of Lucas was the key missing link the team needed. A little more offensive aggression from him would help a lot.

c) the other guys (Selden, Graham, Ellis, Traylor, Greene and Mykailiuk) have really turned up the defensive pressure.

The pressure on the guys to win number 12 should not be overlooked. This team is ready to break out offensively, led by Selden. This bitterly could be "The Golden Year for Kansas Basketball."

Steve Macy 1 year, 1 month ago

They are, so far, the Royals of badketball. Keep the line moving has morphed into keep the pressure on.

Jared Reeves 1 year, 1 month ago

There have been several difference between then and now. First, Landen is playing better and getting more comfortable. He is rebounding better, blocking more shots, and occasionally gives us some offense. Second, Perry is doing a better job passing out of double teams. Previously, Perry would put up a bad shot when doubled. Now he is finding Landen or kicking it out.

Kent Richardson 1 year, 1 month ago

First off Perry took over and scored about 20 a game until Frank became Frank again.

Wayne and then DeVonte stepped up in two huge games UK and at OU. Then Landen, especially,and the trio/duo of Greene and Svi made important in game impacts.

If Cheick and Carlton could go 75/25% good to bad then they would be more on par with Greene and Svi. Stepchild Hunter? Who knows.

One difference between Brannen and Svi is Svi doesn't pass up his open threes as often. I see Frank ignore him all the time. I think he would chuck up half a dozen easy.

Janet Olin 1 year, 1 month ago

Svi's game is starting to bloom with more minutes recently: good passing, rebounding, and D are all improving. He's learning to do other things to contribute than jack up treys (but confidence in other areas will transfer to success there also). We've got to keep him in the flow; don't underestimate what he could contribute late and post-season if/when a guard is hurt and/or in foul trouble.

Mike Greer 1 year, 1 month ago

The STREAK, that's a lot of pressure on these young guys. They are responding well to that pressure for two reasons, 1) they are a mature group that have played together and weathered similar situations in the past, and 2) none of these experienced upper classmen want to be the team that ends the streak. There's a lot of pride and perseverance in this core group of players. Perry coming back into the KSU game after 12 stiches and Frank staying in the Baylor game after it was obvious he was really hurting and probably should have come out and maybe let someone else shoot those free throws, someone who could at least look up at the basket, tells you a lot about this team and their determination. Even Wayne and Landen stepping it up near the end of the game, tells me the team is determined not to let this opportunity slip by.

The Big XII is arguably the best basketball conference this year, and that may have helped keep the streak alive as the other teams that had a chance to knock off KU have also knocked themselves out of first place. My anticipation early in the season was KU would split with OU, ISU, WVU, and Baylor, and they would need to sweep the other teams to have a shot at winning the conference title. The unexpected loss at OSU I was afraid would end the streak. Now it's a totally different situation.

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