Kansas is back in first place in the Big 12, and will look to keep things rolling.
The Jayhawks (15-2, 4-1) have now won three consecutive games, and will travel to West Virginia (8-9, 0-5) this weekend. Despite WVU being winless in league play, KU coach Bill Self believes that it will be a tightly-contested game.
“They are more dangerous than their record," Self said. “They could easily be 3-2 in the league, which is more probable than 0-5. Forget about records and everything, we know they are capable and hungry. (WVU head coach) Bob (Huggins) is too good not to be playing at a peak level against us."
Tipoff is slated for 1 p.m.
Series history: Kansas leads the overall series with West Virginia, 10-4, and has won the last four meetings. But the Mountaineers hold a 4-2 advantage against Kansas in games played in WVU Coliseum. Four of the last five KU-WVU clashes have been decided by eight points or less.
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BREAKING DOWN WEST VIRGINIA
No. 23 — F Esa Ahmad | 6-8, 225, sr.
This season, Ahmad has started in 15 of 16 games and is averaging 12.8 points per contest.
Ahmad is shooting 46.1 percent from the floor, though he’s only 20 percent from long range. He’s averaging 5.4 rebounds per game, and has recorded 10 blocks and 13 steals in 432 total minutes.
KU has struggled on the defensive glass, an area that Ahmad can take advantage of. According to KenPom, Ahmad is boasting a 9.7 offensive rebound rate, which ranks 258th in the nation.
No. 3 — G James Bolden | 6-0, 175, jr.
The junior guard is one of five players to average in double figures for the Mountaineers.
Bolden is boasting a 12.2 points per game average this season, shooting 42.6 percent from the floor. He’s the team’s best option from deep, as he is hitting 34.7 percent of his shots from long range. Bolden has also tallied a team-high 40 assists in 319 minutes.
According to KenPom, Bolden is being used on 29.1 percent of his possessions, a rate that is 92nd in all of college basketball. He’s also taking 30.2 percent of the team’s shots, which is the 83rd-highest rate in the country.
No. 1 — F Derek Culver | 6-10, 255, fr.
Culver has been effective off the bench as of late for WVU.
In seven games, Culver has recorded an average of 12.0 points per contest. Culver is shooting 61.5 percent from the floor, and has yet to attempt a 3-pointer. He also has logged an average of 8.6 rebounds per outing.
Culver is getting starter minutes, too. He’s averaging 23.1 minutes per game for West Virginia.
No. 15 — F Lamont West | 6-8, 222, jr.
In 17 games, West is posting an average of 11.4 points per contest.
West is shooting 39.9 percent from the field on 97 total shots, while collecting 4.5 rebounds per game. He’s netted 50 of his 76 rebounds on the defensive end, while committing just 19 turnovers on the season.
ONE THING WEST VIRGINIA DOES WELL
Self admitted one of the areas he is concerned with is on the glass, though that likely won’t get better this weekend. West Virginia is collecting 38.7 percent of its offensive rebounds, which is the fifth-best mark in college basketball.
ONE AREA WEST VIRGINIA STRUGGLES
The Mountaineers have struggled to take care of the rock this season. WVU has posted a 21.7 percent turnovers rate, which is the 307th-worst clip in the nation. West Virginia is also only forcing a turnover on 17.5 percent of its defensive possessions, good for 255th in the country.
MEET THE COACH
The Mountaineers are coached by Bob Huggins, who is 263-139 in his 12th season at WVU, his alma mater, and 853-349 in his 37th season overall.
Following a two-point win, it can be far too easy to focus on a specific possession as the deciding factor of the outcome.
Perhaps if Texas had more spacing on the final play of the game, the visitors are able to get off a better shot in an eventual 80-78 loss to Kansas Monday night at Allen Fieldhouse. Maybe No. 7 Kansas breaks the game open earlier, if not for a missed shot or breakdown on the defensive end.
The beauty of this blog is that I get to focus on three specific plays that stood out to me, and I start this week with one possession that I believe could have changed the outcome of the game. Sure, it was only a missed dunk by the Longhorns, which ultimately equaled the final point difference between the two teams.
However, it was a play that made KU coach Bill Self vividly upset heading into the intermission. And it was worth highlighting to begin the latest edition of three-point play.
Why Bill Self was so angry at halftime
Self shouldn’t have been as upset on his way to the locker room at halftime.
KU held the ball for the final shot of the first half — or so it thought. With the clock winding down, freshman Devon Dotson started to run the play. It got senior Lagerald Vick a good look from the baseline against the Longhorns’ zone defense with about seven seconds remaining, even though the play clock and the shot clock were separated by a second.
Vick’s 3-pointer fell through the net with five seconds remaining, and Texas wasted no time. Jase Febres, who missed the game-winning attempt in the second half, sprinted toward the other end and called for the ball.
Febres was ahead of every Jayhawk, and went for the decisive blow. Instead, Febres missed the dunk attempt, but that didn’t stop Self from screaming at Dotson on the court.
Self knew his team got lucky in that instance. Dotson should have been the first one back on defense. Vick didn’t sprint until the ball was in Febres’ hands, though it was already too late. And nobody even entertained the idea of stopping the ball.
"He was pretty upset about not getting back," Dedric Lawson said. "That two points could have been the difference in the outcome of the game. He pays attention to a lot of small details, and he was pretty mad at the guards for not getting back."
After the game, Self acknowledged that his team failed to learn from this mistake on a crucial possession in the final minute of the contest.
Lawson missed his second free throw attempt with 13 seconds left that would have put the Jayhawks up five points. Once again, Texas wasted no time after collecting the defensive rebound and got an open look on the other end in a matter of seconds.
KU failed to get back on defense in time, and Courtney Ramey drilled a 3-pointer to trim the deficit to a 79-78 margin.
"I saw total lack of focus, IQ, whatever you want to call it," Self said. "I always like putting two guys up, because we are used to shooting them with two guys up. You don't go for the rebound, you just get back."
"That was just a really bad play," Self said. "It almost cost us the game."
The two defensive lapses were likely a factor in Self calling a timeout on the game’s final possession, which allowed Texas coach Shaka Smart to draw something up despite not having a timeout.
Self, though, needed to make sure his players knew what they were doing on the defensive end.
KU’s pick-and-roll defense struggles down the stretch
Despite being down 10 with five minutes remaining, Texas surged back behind a plethora of triples.
The Longhorns hit four 3-pointers in the final five minutes, which was largely due to their emphasis on high-ball screens with freshman Jaxson Hayes. Entering Monday, Hayes had recorded a dunk on 43 of his 65 made field goals.
Hayes plays above the rim and is lethal in pick-and-roll situations, such as this one with 4:49 left in the game.
The Jayhawks were forced to hedge over with their help defenders, and this allowed the Longhorns to get favorable looks along the perimeter.
Entering the Big Monday tilt, Texas was hitting just 32.4 percent of its shots from long range, which is 240th in all of college basketball. But it was clear that this was a point of emphasis against Kansas, particularly when Hayes was in the game.
"Our guys did a good job of passing the ball off our pick-and-rolls," Smart said. "We tried to put our shooters in spots where if the guard could deliver the ball then they would get an open shot."
Jayhawks take care of the rock
The last point will be a positive one, since KU did win this game after all.
It seems like another lifetime ago that the Jayhawks committed a season-high 24 turnovers in a 17-point loss at Iowa State. They have won three games since then, two of which have been at home. Over that span, KU has turned the ball over a total of 30 times.
During the win over Texas, Kansas coughed up just four turnovers. The Jayhawks turned it over on 6.0 percent of their possessions, which marked their lowest turnover rate of the season by nearly 4.0 percent.
KU didn’t commit its first turnover until the 17:42 mark in the second half. Analyst Fran Fraschilla cited the guard-heavy lineups as the reason for the low turnover numbers by both squads.
But that’s not entirely true. The Jayhawks strictly used a four-guard lineup against the Cyclones. It was a combination of things, though the smaller lineup certainly helps.
Lawson was better at passing out of a double-team. KU wasn’t fazed by the random zone or press looks that Texas tried to throw its way. And Vick, who had been struggling with errant passes in the past few games, was making better decisions in designed sets.
Previous three-point play posts:
Kansas will look to keep things rolling after winning back-to-back conference games.
The Jayhawks (14-2, 3-1 Big 12) responded from a 17-point loss to Iowa State by beating TCU and Baylor this past week. Kansas will welcome Texas for the first of four Big Monday games this season, a situation that the Jayhawks have thrived in.
Dating back to the 1996-97 season, KU is actually 65-18 all-time on Big Monday, including a 37-1 mark at home. In fact, Kansas has won 10 consecutive Big Monday games overall and 30 in a row at Allen Fieldhouse.
Meanwhile, the Longhorns (10-6, 2-2 Big 12) will look to end a two-game skid and are coming off a 68-62 loss at Texas Tech this past weekend. Texas also dropped a 61-58 decision to Oklahoma State.
Tipoff is slated for 8 p.m.
Series history: Kansas leads the overall series with Texas, 31-8, including a 16-1 record in Lawrence (14-1 in Allen Fieldhouse). KU has won the last nine meetings with UT, but the last three have been decided by 10 points or less.
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BREAKING DOWN TEXAS
No. 12 — G Kerwin Roach II | 6-4, 180, sr.
Roach has averaged 17.5 points per game while hitting 13-of-25 (.520) from the floor with an average of 6.0 rebounds per outing over the last two contests entering Monday’s game.
For the season, Roach leads the team in scoring with a clip of 13.6 points per game. He also paces the squad with assists (3.5), ranks second in minutes (30.5) and is third on the team in steals (19) and rebounding (5.9 rpg).
Roach has topped the 20-point mark eight times and reached double figures in scoring 57 times in his career.
No. 2 — G Matt Coleman | 6-2, 180, so.
Coleman is in his second year as the team’s starting point guard, which marks the first time head coach Shaka Smart has had the luxury of a returning point guard since Isaiah Taylor in 2015-16.
Through the first 16 games this year, Coleman leads the team in minutes (31.3 mpg) and ranks second in assists (3.4 apg), tied for second in scoring (10.1 ppg) and fourth in steals (14). He has reached double figures in scoring in six contests and has posted a 55-to-26 assist-to-turnover ratio (2.12).
In Big 12 play, Coleman has recorded just 19 assists and three turnovers in his four conference outings.
No. 10 — F Jaxson Hayes | 6-11, 220, fr.
Hayes has been an efficient weapon for the Longhorn in his freshman campaign.
This season, Hayes has converted 74.7-percent (65-87) of his shots from the floor. The UT single-season record for field goal percentage (min. 200 points) is 65.4-percent (140-214) by Dexter Pittman in 2009-10. Of his 65 made field goals this year, 43 have been dunks
Hayes had his school-record consecutive made field goal streak snapped at 18 during the win at Kansas State on Jan. 2. During that streak, 13 of his field goals were dunks.
No. 21 — F Dylan Osetkowski | 6-9, 250, sr.
Osetkowski has played and started in all 50 career games in his two seasons at Texas.
Through the first 16 games this season, he leads the team in rebounding (8.0 rpg) and double-doubles (4) and ranks second in steals (20), third in minutes (27.9 mpg) and fourth in scoring (9.5 ppg).
In his career, Osetkowski has recorded seven double-doubles and reached double figures in scoring 33 times and in rebounds 10 times.
ONE THING TEXAS DOES WELL
The Longhorns have been strong on the defensive end, especially at defending 2-point shots. Opposing teams are shooting 43.8 percent on 2-point shots against the Longhorns, a mark that ranks 18th in the nation.
ONE AREA TEXAS STRUGGLES
Texas has struggled with consistency at several points this season, and that’s largely due to its struggles from deep. The Longhorns are shooting just 32.4 percent from long range, which is 240th in all of college basketball. UT is also only shooting 67.4 percent from the free throw line.
MEET THE COACH
Texas is coached by Shaka Smart, who is 60- 56 in his fourth season at UT and 223-112 in his 10th year overall.
Kansas is a 7-point favorite as of Monday afternoon, which feels right about where I'd expect the final margin to be. I'll take KU to cover, though, since I have to pick a side. I wouldn't exactly bet the house either way, however.
My prediction: Kansas 73, Texas 64
No. 7 Kansas will look to put its recent road woes to bed this weekend.
KU’s two losses this season have come in its only two true road contests, suffering defeats against Arizona State and Iowa State. The Jayhawks (13-2, 2-1 Big 12) will take on Baylor in Waco on Saturday.
Last time out, Kansas took down TCU with a 76-68 win. Baylor (9-5, 1-1 Big 12) is also coming off a win after defeating Iowa State by a 73-70 margin. According to KenPom.com, the Bears are ranked No. 53 in college basketball. The Jayhawks are listed at No. 10, which is their lowest ranking of the season.
Tipoff is slated for 3 p.m. Saturday.
Series history: Saturday is the 36th all-time meeting between Baylor and Kansas. KU is 30-5 against Baylor.
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BREAKING DOWN BAYLOR
No. 10 — G Makai Mason | 6-1, 185, sr.
Mason is making the most of his lone year with the Bears.
As the first graduate transfer in program history, Mason is leading the team in scoring with an average of 15.1 points per contest. Earlier this week, Mason poured in 25 points to get Baylor past Iowa State. Mason knocked down four triples, which marked the most he has hit in a game this season.
Mason, who transferred from Yale, has only failed to score double figures once this season. His career high remains 31 points, which he actually did at Yale during a game against Baylor.
No. 25 — F Tristan Clark | 6-9, 240, so.
Clark is one of three Baylor players to average double digits in scoring, as he’s recording a clip of 14.6 points per outing.
In his sophomore season, Clark leads the nation with a 73.7 field goal percentage, averaging 2.1 missed field goals per game. He has scored in double-figures in 11 of 14 games this season after doing so in 10 of 33 games last year.
Clark has also started in all 14 games this season and has recorded multiple blocks in 11 of 14 games, including three games with at least five blocks.
No. 03 — G King McClure | 6-3, 215, sr.
McClure is third on the team in scoring with an average of 10.2 points per game.
Last time out, McClure was held to just six points on 2-of-7 shooting, and he’s failed to hit double figures in each of his previous six games. As a senior, McClure has scored 20+ points in three games this season after doing so once in 100 games over first three seasons at Baylor.
Prior to the start of the year, McClure switched his jersey number from No. 22 to No. 3 to honor teammate Jake Lindsey, who will miss 2018-19 season.
No. 11 — F Mark Vital | 6-5, 230, r-so
Vital is one of three players to start in all 14 games this season for Baylor. He’s started in 31 of the last 33 games dating back to last year.
As of late, Vital has found a knack for getting in passing lanes and could thrive against a KU team that recently committed 24 turnovers at Iowa State. Vital has recorded 11 steals over his last five games after posting seven steals in first nine games this season.
ONE THING BAYLOR DOES WELL
The Big 12 is a defensive league this year, and even the teams at the bottom of the conference are no different. The Bears are boasting the 33rd-best defensive efficiency in the country, per KenPom. They have also recorded a block rate of 16.9 percent, which is ranked sixth in the nation.
ONE AREA BAYLOR STRUGGLES
Another similar theme in the Big 12 is that teams are struggling to shoot well from deep. Baylor is even worse than most, posting a 29.2 percentage from long range. According to KenPom, that mark ranks 327th in all of college basketball.
MEET THE COACH
The Bears are coached by Scott Drew, who is 305-200 in his 16th season at Baylor and 325-211 in his 17th season overall. Baylor is 7-2 at the Ferrell Center this season and has won its last three games on its home court.
Kansas is a 3.5-point favorite on the road against Baylor. I expect the Jayhawks to get their first win and by enough points to cover in the end of a defensive battle.
My prediction: Kansas 71, Baylor 65
Marcus Garrett’s stellar defense on TCU’s Alex Robinson was latest example of his invaluable versatility
Kansas sophomore Marcus Garrett is up for the task of guarding anyone on any given night.
Garrett’s combination of length and athleticism allows him to defend just about any position on the floor. Garrett is more than capable of hanging with stretch forwards, and he can be overwhelming against opposing guards.
But there is one player that Garrett doesn’t actively seek to defend. Garrett is not a fan of trying to guard Dedric Lawson.
“Oh yeah I get a chance to guard him in practice. But I’m not going for him,” Garrett said.
The reason? Lawson can be deceptive, even for a distinguished defender like Garrett.
“A lot of people think he’s slow,” Garrett said. “But when you actually get out there and guard him you see how quick his first step and spin move, all that is.”
Fortunately for Garrett, he gets the opportunity to be on the same side as Lawson in the games that matter. The latest of which occurred Wednesday night, when Lawson scored 31 points to lead KU to a 77-68 win over TCU in Allen Fieldhouse.
But fortunately for the Jayhawks, Garrett appears to be up for the task of defending anyone else in the Big 12. And he’s become potent on that end for Kansas, which improved to 13-2 (2-1 Big 12) after last night’s win.
Due to foul trouble, Garrett was asked to defend TCU point guard Alex Robinson for an extended stretch late in the first half.
Garrett kept Robinson out of rhythm, which halted the flow of the Horned Frogs’ offense. Entering Wednesday, Robinson was second in the nation with 8.7 assists per game. Robinson registered just four against KU.
“I know how good of a passer he is and how he’s like a pro when he gets by his man,” Garrett said. “I was basically just trying to keep him in front with high hands to try and make him make a lot of passes.”
At first, starting point guard Devon Dotson earned the assignment of defending Robinson. He picked up a pair of early fouls, and sat for much of the final 10-plus minutes. Not long after, Garrett assumed the role as the team’s point guard.
He started things off with an alley-oop to freshman Quentin Grimes in transition.
“I’m very comfortable in that role,” Garrett said. “It is the only role I have played my whole life. I feel very good playing point guard.”
The very next defensive possession is when Garrett took on the responsibility of keeping Robinson in check.
Over the final nine minutes, Garrett rarely left Robinson on the defensive end. It was evident that Robinson, who is 6-foot-1, was bothered by Garrett’s size. On this play, Garrett’s arms prevented Robinson from seeing an angle to make a pass.
“He’s just so good with the ball,” Garrett said. “He’s going slow and then he can change speeds.”
Garrett also picked up Robinson sooner than most of the other defenders. Garrett almost always started guarding Robinson near half court, forcing the Horned Frogs to bring out screeners father away from the basket.
Garrett even sprinkled in some full-court man defense every now and then to make Robinson work harder to set up an offense.
“I think he’s smarter (than other guards),” Garrett said. “With him being a senior, he knows how to pick spots.”
When Garrett was switched off Robinson, he was quick to provide help defense to keep Robinson from getting in the lane.
The entire Kansas defense emphasized keeping Robinson out of the lane, as he has a knack for finding the open man when opposing defenders help over.
Yet, it was just the latest example of Garrett’s versatility as a defender.
Last month, Garrett was sticking with Villanova’s 6-foot-6 forward Eric Paschall, who can stretch the floor with his ability to shoot from long range. Last night’s win proved Garrett can also shutdown a quick facilitator to help halt an entire offense, even if the plan wasn’t originally for him to guard Robinson.
And that’s a byproduct of Garrett’s ability to understand each opponent before every game.
“I just stick to the scouting report,” Garrett said. “Most of the time, I be watching Big 12 games. I just look at what guards like to do and what bigs like to do when they catch the ball.”
In a matter of months, Devon Dotson has displayed a ton of growth during his freshman campaign with No. 7 Kansas.
But as special as he’s been this season, especially from a consistency standpoint, Dotson proved he still has room to grow during a 77-68 win over TCU Wednesday night in Allen Fieldhouse.
In the win, Dotson went 0-for-6 from the floor, finishing with five points and three assists in 27 minutes.
Think back to the most previous three-point play, in which I highlighted a 5-on-1 fast break that the Jayhawks (13-2, 2-1 Big 12) failed to convert on during a 77-60 loss at Iowa State. On that play, I highlighted that Dotson did not make an ISU defender commit before passing the ball. So while multiple players were responsible for the blunder, Dotson made the first mistake on that particular sequence.
Dotson displayed similar struggles in transition, which will be the first thing I mention in today’s three-point play. As a reminder, I plan to highlight three takeaways the day after each KU game. If you ever have a suggestion, feel free to reach out on Twitter.
Growing pains for Dotson
Following a basket by Dedric Lawson, KU took a seven-point lead with less than 17 minutes remaining.
Freshman Ochai Agbaji immediately gifted the Jayhawks another possession by getting in the passing lane to record a steal. He swiftly moved up the court before giving the ball to Dotson, who then tried to make something happen.
The sequence led to a turnover, as Dotson made the wrong pass and it was evident that Kansas coach Bill Self was not pleased with his freshman point guard.
“He made a bonehead play when he tried to go one against two in transition with nothing there,” Self said after the game. “I got on him then.”
Part of Self’s message was that Dotson has to learn to make the safe play sometimes, which he actually did moments later.
Leading by three points, Kansas sophomore Marcus Garrett managed to net a steal near half court around the 11-minute mark. Garrett tossed the ball over to Dotson, who then pushed the ball in transition.
Dotson had another numbers advantage, though this time it was just 3-on-1. Dotson elected to dump the ball off to K.J. Lawson on the left side, rather than lob it up to Agbaji on the right side.
“Right after that, he’s got Ochai wide open for an uncontested lob and he makes the safe play to K.J.,” Self said. “I go, ‘What are you doing?’ He’s like, ‘You told me to be safe.’”
After the game, though, Self credited Dotson with making a “couple winning plays” by pulling the ball out in transition when he didn’t need to attack and having active hands on the defensive end.
Still, those two specific plays illustrated that Dotson has plenty left to improve on. And that he's capable of doing so on the fly in a game.
Jayhawks show full-court pressure defense
There were many questions about what life would be like without Udoka Azubuike, who is sidelined for the remainder of the season.
When Self spoke to reporters Monday afternoon, he didn’t quite have all the answers. In some ways, he was going through the different ideas out loud during his media availability.
“If you stop think about it, can we become totally opposite of what we've been? Can we become a charge-taking team?” Self rhetorically asked at his press conference. “Since we don't have shot blockers, can we become a team that's better positionally, that you can't get beat as much because you don't have the guy behind? Could we be a team that maybe soft presses and do some things to create activity?”
Kansas fans got a glimpse of what this team is capable of doing during small stretches on the defensive end without its starting center. After Grimes missed the second free throw with 13:51 left in the first half, the Jayhawks immediately went into a soft full-court press.
The Horned Frogs were thrown off by this different look, and ultimately ended up turning the ball over on a 10-second violation.
The Horned Frogs finished with 20 turnovers, which marked just the second time this season that they finished with more turnovers than assists (12) in a game. And it was a credit to KU being able to throw different looks at TCU, while using athletic guards to create more pressure in passing lanes.
Vick continues to be careless with ball
The entire KU team was forced into abundance of mistakes against Iowa State, as it finished with 24 turnovers in the 17-point loss.
As a team, the Jayhawks turned it over just 12 times against the Horned Frogs Wednesday night. Vick was the main culprit for these miscues, as he ended up with six of the team’s dozen turnovers.
It marked the third consecutive game that Vick has recorded at least four turnovers. To put that in comparison, Vick never had more than three turnovers during nonconference season. Prior to Big 12 play this season, Vick’s highest number of turnovers in a game was five, which he did just once in his career.
During league play, Vick has committed a combined 17 turnovers in 90 minutes. Over that span, Vick has went 12-for-30 from the floor, including 6-of-20 from long range. He’s also recorded a total of six assists over the previous three games for Kansas.
Previous three-point play posts:
The No. 7 Jayhawks would like to put last weekend behind them.
Kansas can do just that when it welcomes No. 25 TCU into Allen Fieldhouse Wednesday night. It marks KU’s third ranked foe in as many games to begin Big 12 play. Kansas (12-2, 1-1 Big 12) suffered a 77-60 loss to Iowa State Saturday, and then announced the next day that starting center Udoka Azubuike would miss the remainder of the season.
TCU, meanwhile, is coming off an 85-81 victory over Baylor in the Big 12 opener. The Horned Frogs (12-1, 1-0) will likely be without Jaylen Fisher, who is averaging 12.1 points per game and missed the conference opener with a right knee injury. Fisher led the league with a 44.1 percent clip from 3-point range during nonconference season.
Tipoff is slated for 8 p.m.
BREAKING DOWN TCU
No. 25 — G Alex Robinson | 6-1, 180, sr.
Iowa State may have the best backcourt in the league, but TCU’s perimeter presence is no joke. And that is mostly due to the play of Robinson.
Robinson ranks second in the nation at 8.7 assists per game. He is No. 2 all-time at TCU with 531 career assists. Robinson was Preseason Honorable Mention All-Big 12 and on the watch list for the Bob Cousy Point Guard of the Year award.
This season, Robinson has an assist rate of 44.5, which ranks fourth in all of college basketball.
No. 1 — G Desmond Bane | 6-5, 215, jr.
Behind 22 points from Bane, the Horned Frogs led for all but 21 seconds against the Bears in the Big 12 opener.
Bane is one of three players in the Big 12 to rank in the top 20 in scoring (7th), top 20 in rebounding (17th) and top 15 in assists (10th). Jarrett Culver of Texas Tech and Talen Horton-Tucker of Iowa State are the other two players to do so.
Bane’s true shooting percentage of 64.3 ranks 82nd in the nation, per KenPom.com.
No. 15 — F JD Miller | 6-8, 235, sr.
Miller is fifth on the team in scoring with an average of 11.5 points per game to go along with 6.5 rebounds per contest.
But Miller’s most impressive feat is his durability. Miller has played in every possible game of his three-year career. If Miller plays in all possible 32 games this season, he will match Brandon Parish’s TCU record of 136 games played.
According to KenPom, Miller boasts a 127.0 offensive rating. That is second on the team behind Bane, but ranks 64th in the nation.
No. 21 — C Kevin Samuel | 6-11, 250, r-fr
Life is much easier for opposing centers without Azubuike manning the lane.
Samuel should have less resistance without KU’s big man defending him. The redshirt freshman is averaging 8.2 points and 6.8 rebounds per game. Samuel has made 73.8 percent of his 2-point attempts, a mark that ranks ninth in the nation.
ONE THING TCU DOES WELL
TCU shoots the ball effectively. The Horned Frogs are shooting 58.4 percent on 2-point shots, which is the seventh-best clip in the country. They are also boasting a 56.3 effective field goal percentage, a mark that ranks 18th in the nation.
ONE AREA TCU STRUGGLES
For the second consecutive game, I’m going to highlight that KU’s opponent is not known for its 3-point shooting. The Horned Frogs are shooting just 35 percent from long range, which is 134th in the country. Of course, Iowa State wasn’t known for its ability from long range and then proceeded to knock down 13 triples against Kansas.
MEET THE COACH
TCU is coached by Jamie Dixon, who is 57-28 in his third season at TCU and 385-151 in his 16th season overall. TCU leads the Big 12 in field goal percentage (49.9) as well as assists (20.2) per game this season.
According to Action Network, Kansas is a six-point favorite as of Wednesday afternoon. In this series, seven of the last 10 matchups have been decided by seven points or fewer. Even if Fisher doesn’t play, I’d expect this to be a close game. The Horned Frogs will cover, but the Jayhawks get the win.
My prediction: Kansas 76, TCU 71
Record against spread: 5-9 (1-1 Big 12)
Following its second loss of the season, Kansas dropped two spots in the latest AP poll, which was released Monday afternoon.
The Jayhawks (12-2, 1-1 Big 12) are No. 7 in the latest rankings, falling from No. 5 after splitting their two games last week. Kansas defeated Oklahoma by a 70-63 margin in the Big 12 opener before dropping a 77-60 decision at Iowa State this past weekend.
One day after its loss to ISU, Kansas announced that starting center Udoka Azubuike would be out for the rest of the season. In addition, the No. 7 ranking is KU’s worst of the season, meaning this has been a pretty forgettable three-day stretch for the Jayhawks.
With that being said, let’s dive into this week’s top takeaways from the latest AP poll:
No first-place votes for Kansas
For the first time all season, Kansas did not receive any first-place votes in the latest AP poll. KU's highest ranking this week was actually No. 5, which was courtesy of two different AP voters.
A total of four teams were given first-place votes, including 37 for No. 1 Duke. Despite being No. 3, Tennessee actually received the second-most votes with 13. No. 2 Michigan was given nine such votes, while No. 4 Virginia earned five.
Since falling from No. 1 after its loss at Arizona State, Kansas had received four first-place votes in each of the previous two polls. Prior to that, the Jayhawks had earned 57 and 56 first-place votes in Week 6 and Week 7, respectively, during their two-week stretch at No. 1.
KU had double-digit first-place votes in all but one week between the preseason poll and Week 5.
But this is the first time since last season that Kansas did not get any consideration for the top team. In fact, Kansas earned only three first-place votes all last year, two of which came in the second week in the season. The lone other first-place vote was given to the Jayhawks in the preseason poll.
It remains to be seen whether or not Kansas will earn another first-place vote this season, though that may be difficult given how top-heavy college basketball is this year. Still, the nine weeks of first-place recognition marks the most for the Jayhawks in a single season since they earned first-place votes in 14 of the 19 weeks during the 2015-16 campaign.
TCU enters AP poll ahead of tilt with KU
There are no easy nights in the Big 12, particularly for the start of the conference play for the defending champs.
Following its first league loss of the year, Kansas will get its third ranked foe in as many games to start Big 12 play when it plays host to TCU at 8 p.m. Wednesday. The Horned Frogs returned to the poll Monday, earning a No. 25 ranking following their win over Baylor this past weekend.
TCU is a nine-game win streak since dropping a 73-64 decision to Lipscomb at home, which dropped the Horned Frogs from No. 18 to unranked in the AP poll. This week, TCU is back and was even listed as a high as No. 17 on one ballot.
Other Big 12 teams in the rankings are Kansas (7), Texas Tech (8), Iowa State (20) and Oklahoma (23). Texas is also receiving votes.
Jayhawks higher in AP poll than analytical rankings
Computers or sports writers? Which side are you on?
Just hours before the newest AP poll came out, I chose to look at the different rankings in the advanced metrics world. It is no secret that this particular KU team can be hard to figure out, which was evident in all the different analytical rankings.
The Jeff Sagarin rankings had the Jayhawks the highest among the computer rankings at No. 9. Ken Pomeroy has dropped his preseason No. 1 team all the way down to No. 10 over at KenPom.com.
Bart Torvik has KU at No. 16 in his most recent update, while Haslametrics is the lowest on Kansas with a No. 30 ranking on its website. All this is to say that not even the computers can quite pinpoint where Kansas belongs in college basketball.
None of this means much for which team is going to cut down the nets in April, of course. To me, it is just fascinating that the AP voters are higher on the Jayhawks than the computers at this point in the season.
Kansas coach Bill Self joked that he may not rewatch Saturday’s 77-60 loss to Iowa State in his postgame press conference.
Of course, I’m sure Self was not being serious, seeing as there are many things Kansas could potentially learn from its first conference loss. After all, KU led for just 5:55, the shortest amount of time it has led this season and the fewest since the Jayhawks never led in a loss at Oklahoma State last season.
But on the off chance he was being serious, I went ahead and rewatched the game on the drive back to Lawrence from Ames, Iowa for the latest edition of three-point play. In case you weren’t aware, I started this new blog following the Big 12 opener. It is to point out a few specific takeaways the day after each game, which will almost always include gifs or stats.
On a day where many things went wrong for Kansas, here are a few particular things that stood out to me.
KU was a non-factor in transition
Perhaps the best play to illustrate everything that went wrong during KU’s 17-point thumping at Iowa State occurred with seven-plus minutes left in the first half.
Freshman Devon Dotson ripped the ball from Nick Weiler-Babb early in the possession, a trait Dotson has demonstrated many times already this season. After that, Dotson was off to the races to get a bucket in transition. But he wasn’t alone either.
All four of his teammates followed suit, as freshman Quentin Grimes filled the middle of the lane and Marcus Garrett went right. Dedric Lawson and Charlie Moore were trailing the trio, but were still closer to the ball than the Cyclones.
In fact, only Talen Horton-Tucker stood in the way from an easy bucket by KU. The Jayhawks, though, would not capitalize on the distinct advantage. And multiple parties were to blame for the fastreak blunder.
Dotson drove to the left side, but the dished the ball back to Grimes in the middle too soon and didn’t force the lone defender to commit. Grimes, meanwhile, was trying avoid a charge after being called for one just a minute earlier. So he quickly pitched it to Garrett who mishandled the pass and KU was forced to set up an offense rather than take advantage of the easy basket.
Of course, Iowa State prioritized keeping Kansas from getting transition buckets throughout Saturday’s tilt. The Cyclones rotated their guards back to defense following most shots, in order to have a body between the Jayhawks and the rim.
KU, which produced 16 fast break points against Oklahoma in the Big 12 opener, finished with just four such points at ISU. It marked the team’s fewest points via fast break in a single game this season.
“Our biggest thing (was) transition defense,” ISU coach Steve Prohm said. “Don’t let them beat us in the paint and let’s keep them in front and contest shots.”
Iowa State deserves credit for its job against KU in this area, though this particular play was more due to KU’s own miscues.
KU continues to struggle defending the 3
The Jayhawks have struggled to defend the triple this season, which was a talking point for much of the nonconference slate.
Iowa State wasn’t supposed to be a huge threat from deep, however. Entering Saturday, the Cyclones were shooting just 34.9 percent from long range, which ranked 142nd in the nation at the time. ISU was getting just 31.6 of its point production via the 3-point shot.
Saturday’s numbers? Much different. Iowa State shot 52 percent from long range, hitting 13-of-25 from deep. Over 50 percent of the Cyclones’ points against the defending Big 12 champs came via the long ball. It marked ISU’s highest clip from deep in any game this season and was the team’s highest rate of points coming from beyond the arc in any contest as well.
And it was evident early that KU’s defensive woes in this particular area were going to continue.
Senior Lagerald Vick left his feet to defend a 3-pointer, but Iowa State’s Marial Shayok knew what to do. With Vick in the air, Shayok took one dribble to his left and then proceeded to fire up a wide-open triple to drill the team’s first 3-pointer of the game.
Give the Cyclones credit for knocking down shots, but the Jayhawks struggled to defend most of the made 3s all day.
Moore was late to get to the corner on ISU’s second 3-pointer, which came with 9:58 left in the first half. KU’s rotation defense was poor on the third triple of the game, when Shayok connected on an open look from the top of the key.
Kansas lost Tyrese Haliburton in transition, as he buried a shot from long range with three seconds remaining in the first half. And a majority of the nine second-half 3-pointers by Iowa State had a similar theme.
Death, taxes and Self’s brilliance ATO
It is no secret that Self is a wizard with his designed sets after timeouts.
In order to have one positive takeaway in this blog, I figured we’d highlight the two sets that stood out to me in the second half. At the time, I honestly though they were going to be crucial possessions, but the Cyclones eventually broke the game open to bury these ATO gems by Self.
The first occurred following the media timeout at the 14:52 mark in the second half. Self, of course, likes to create angles for his posts, which is especially critical when Lawson is the focal point of the offense with Udoka Azubuike sidelined.
On this particular play, Kansas accomplished just that as Dotson threaded a pass to Lawson before Moore’s defender could help over. It is hard to tell by the end of this gif, since there is a size limit on the file, but it appears Dotson points to the bench after Lawson’s bucket.
Perhaps the best ATO play, though, took place after the timeout at the 12:21 mark. And it was for Garrett of all people.
Garrett scored on a slip screen via a perfect pass from Dotson, who hit his teammate in stride. The lane was cleared out by Grimes, who it appeared the play might have originally been set up for as he headed to the top of key behind a pair of screens.
It is also worth noting that Dotson finished with three assists, two of which came on designed sets following timeouts by the KU coaching staff.
Talk about a start to the Big 12 conference slate.
No. 5 Kansas outlasted No. 23 Oklahoma, 70-63, in the conference opener. Now, the Jayhawks have to head to one of the tougher places to play in the league for the league road game when they travel to Iowa State, which is coming off a win over Oklahoma State.
Even without their best player for most of their nonconference slate, the Cyclones enter Saturday’s clash with a 11-2 record and are ranked No. 16 via KenPom.com.
“You can make a case that Iowa State has had as good a preseason as anybody (in the league),” KU coach Bill Self said. “They’re back to being healthy and Steve (Prohm) has done a great job of winning some games that were hard games. Now they have their full complement of guys and it will be a great game and atmosphere (in Ames, at Hilton Coliseum).”
Whenever these two teams meet up recently, it has been a intense battle to decide a winner. The series is tied 5-5 over the last 10 meetings with seven of those outcomes being decided by seven points or less and five by five points or fewer.
Tipoff is slated for 4 p.m.
BREAKING DOWN IOWA STATE
No. 5 — G Lindell Wigginton | 6-2, 189, so.
Make no mistake, Wigginton is Iowa State’s most-talented player.
Wigginton has only played in three games this season after missing most of nonconference season with a left foot injury. Wigginton played 30 minutes off the bench in the Big 12 opener, scoring 17 points on 4-of-9 shooting.
As a freshman, Wigginton averaged 14.3 points and 5.7 rebounds per contest. He also added 2.7 assists per outing. If Wigginton is healthy, and that appears to be the case, the Jayhawks will have their hands full this afternoon.
No. 3 — G Marial Shayok | 6-6, 198, sr.
The Cyclones did not miss a step after Wigginton went down, mostly because of the play of Shayok.
Shayok is the Big 12’s top scorer this season, notching double figures in all 13 games. Shayok averaged 19.8 points per contest, and has scored over 20 points in six outings thus far. This season, Shayok is shooting 50 percent from the floor and has taken 188 total shots.
The transfer from Virginia became the first Cyclone since Dedric Willoughby in 1995-96 to score 200 points in the season’s first 10 games,
No. 12 — F Michael Jacobson | 6-9, 230 jr.
Jacobson is third on the team in scoring and is one of four Iowa State players averaging in double figures.
Jacobson, who transferred from Nebraska, leads the Cyclones in rebounding and is shooting 63.1 percent from the field. Jacobson has reached double figures in 11 games. His scoring average is sixth in the Big 12 this season.
Still, the jump in production at his new stop has been drastic.
At Nebraska, Jacobson averaged 5.3 points per game over two seasons. Fast forward to this year and he is third on the team averaging 14.5 points. In fact, Jacobson has a better field goal percentage, three-point percentage and is rebounding at a better clip than he was before transferring to ISU.
No. 11 — G Talen Horton-Tucker | 6-4, 233, fr.
Despite being just a freshman, Horton-Tucker has found a way to make an immediate impact.
Horton-Tucker leads all Big 12 freshmen in scoring with an average of 13.6 points per game. He has dropped three different 20-point outbursts. Horton Tucker has also dished out 10 assists to one turnover over his previous two games.
In addition, Horton-Tucker leads the Cyclones with eight charges taken.
ONE THING IOWA STATE DOES WELL
The Big 12 features several strong defensive squads, but Iowa State’s identity is its offense. The Cyclones are shooting 57.9 percent on 2-point shots in their four guard lineup. According to KenPom.com, that clip is ranked 13th in all of college basketball.
ONE AREA IOWA STATE STRUGGLES
The four-guard lineup doesn’t necessarily mean the Cyclones are a legit threat from deep. Iowa State is shooting just 34.9 percent from long range, which ranks 142nd in the nation. ISU is getting just 31.6 of its point production via the 3-point shot.
MEET THE COACH
The Cyclones are coached by Steve Prohm, who is 71-43 in his fourth season at ISU and 175-72 in his eighth season overall. Iowa State is 7-0 at Hilton Coliseum this season with a +28.3 scoring margin on it home floor.
Iowa State is a 1-point favorite, so this game is essentially a toss-up. It remains to be seen if the KU newcomers can handle the atmosphere in Hilton Coliseum. But unless the Cyclones shoot well from deep, which they haven’t really done, I don’t see how they lose to the Jayhawks. And ISU doesn’t have anyone that can stop Udoka Azubuike.
My prediction: Kansas 76, Iowa State 72
Record against spread: 5-8 (1-0 Big 12)