Following Kansas' 83-79 victory over the Swiss national team in Game Two, I thought I'd share some KU video highlights from Wednesday.
I don't have all the best plays, but these are a few I was able to shoot when I wasn't blogging. The final clip is the Swiss team's offensive possession when trailing, 81-79, with about 20 seconds remaining.
Also, box score is up for those who haven't seen it.
Before I get to player observations, here's a general one: Both teams played much better Wednesday than they did Tuesday. The Swiss were making almost every jump shot between 15 and 18 feet and ended up making 21 of 33 two-pointers (64 percent).
Also, KU won despite an unfavorable whistle. Switzerland made 25 of 38 free throws, while the Jayhawks made 12 of 19. The discrepancy was worse in the first half, when the Swiss shot 20 free throws compared to KU’s four.
The officiating was better after halftime. The Jayhawks were definitely getting a tight whistle early, but in the second half, I don’t think the officiating impacted the game much for either team.
Here are my observations of the 15 players that checked in:
Jeff Withey — He played better in the second half after ending up in Self’s doghouse a bit in the first half. He contributed probably the biggest defensive play of the game, blocking a Swiss player’s shot with the game tied and around 30 seconds to go, which led to Kevin Young’s dunk in transition that gave KU the lead for good. Withey contributed three blocks but wasn’t as active defensively as he was in Game One, partly because the Swiss settled for a lot of jump shots. Withey once again struggled with isolation moves, missing badly when putting up turn-around shots while trying to take his defender in the post. The senior did come through for KU late, knocking down some crucial free throws in the fourth quarter. He finished 6-for-6 from the line and had 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Perry Ellis — His first half was better than his second. He scored on a few nifty plays in the post, including a dribble drive on the baseline to a reverse lay-in that looks like his go-to move. Self got on Ellis during one timeout about not communicating defensively, which led to a Swiss three.
Elijah Johnson — Johnson wasn’t afraid to the guy to take most of KU’s shots late when the game was on the line. He didn’t make many of those shots, but he did draw enough attention to allow Young some space to grab offensive rebounds. One of Johnson’s highlights came with the shot clock winding down, as he put on a shake move to create separation before knocking down a stepback three (see video above). Johnson hit a couple threes in the second half and, from his actions and words so far, appears to the leader of this year’s team.
Ben McLemore — Limited to just five minutes because of a nagging groin injury. KU coach Bill Self said after the game that McLemore’s status was unknown for the Jayhawks’ final two games of the trip.
Travis Releford — Not his best game. Tried to force too many passes inside from bad angles. He also picked up four fouls in 22 minutes, though I remember two of them were questionable. Had just two field-goal attempts after playing great in transition during Game One on Tuesday.
Naadir Tharpe — For the second straight game, Self talked after the game about how he was pleased with Tharpe’s play in stretches. The sophomore once again had a couple nice passes in transition that led to baskets and also went 1-for-2 from three. He finished with five points, three assists and one turnover in 22 minutes.
Evan Manning — Got an opportunity to play once again but got the quick hook from Self after getting beat off the dribble before fouling his man while going for a reach-in. Self yelled at Manning, then took him out after just two minutes. The freshman had one defensive rebound.
Rio Adams — Self was frustrated with his defense, yelling at him that he was letting his man catch it wherever he wanted to. Adams also received a quick benching after taking an ill-advised shot: an 18-footer with 21 on the shot clock with no teammates in rebounding position. Adams still played better Wednesday than he did Tuesday, putting in a mid-range jumper for two points with two assists and no turnovers in 10 minutes.
Andrew White — White drew lots of praise from Self after the game, with the coach saying he liked the guard's confidence the most. White didn’t hesitate when putting up jumpers, and he was hitting them Wednesday. The freshman went 2-for-3 from three-point range and 6-for-9 overall, with many of his twos coming in the 15-to-18-foot range. He led KU with 16 points to go with one assist and two turnovers. He’s working hard defensively too, as he came away with three steals and also received lots of positive feedback from KU’s coaches when he was able to stop a Swiss drive by shuffling his feet. Through two games, White has been KU’s best newcomer.
Milt Doyle — Had a quiet five minutes, missing one running floater. Also picked up a personal foul.
Jamari Traylor — Traylor only played five minutes and had a couple highlights, drawing a charge defensively and also finishing an and-one following a nice pass from Zach Peters. Traylor missed the free throw and also another close shot inside. Though he moves well and is a huge body, Traylor still appears to be developing his offensive game, as in the first two games, he’s been mostly a ball-mover on that end.
Zach Peters — Drew positive reviews once again from Self, who said Peters was KU’s best big man in the first half. The freshman showed great instincts after an offensive rebound, using an up-and-under move to get his defender in the air before putting in a bank shot with a foul. Peters also showed nice touch in hitting a fadeaway jumper from about 10 feet on the baseline. His second half wasn’t as good, as he posted three turnovers in a five-possession span. He also seems to get blocked at least once in each game I’ve seen him, though that hasn’t affected his aggressiveness. He finished with seven points (3-for-5 shooting) and five rebounds in 13 minutes.
Landen Lucas — Had a productive six minutes, and on one occasion grabbed an offensive rebound before knocking in a 17-footer from the left elbow. He had two points and two rebounds, though he did foul a Swiss player that resulted in a three-point play. The freshman looked a little more comfortable offensively Wednesday compared to Tuesday.
Justin Wesley — The junior finished one lob from Johnson with a dunk, but on a few occasions, KU’s coaches were frustrated with Wesley regarding his defense. He had two points, two rebounds and a steal in nine minutes.
Kevin Young — For the second straight game, Young played his best in the fourth quarter. He rebounded a Johnson missed free throw for a stickback, grabbed another Johnson miss for a tip-in and also beat everyone down the floor to break the tie with a dunk in the final 15 seconds. All this came after a subpar first half when Young was chewed out for letting a Swiss player around him on a boxout just a few seconds after the KU senior checked in. Young finished with 14 points, making 6 of 7 shots with five rebounds (one offensive), though I know we missed one of his offensive rebounds, as he had two in the final few minutes.