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Jalen Wilson's big 1st half, game-high 13 boards good for top spot after regular season finale

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Kansas forward Jalen Wilson (10) drives against Texas guard Devin Askew (5) during the second half on Saturday, March 5, 2022 at Allen Fieldhouse. The Jayhawks defeated the Longhorns, 70-63 to win a share of the Big 12 conference title.

Kansas forward Jalen Wilson (10) drives against Texas guard Devin Askew (5) during the second half on Saturday, March 5, 2022 at Allen Fieldhouse. The Jayhawks defeated the Longhorns, 70-63 to win a share of the Big 12 conference title. by Nick Krug

1 – Jalen Wilson – Wilson takes the top spot after this one because of his overall body of work and his stellar first half. On a night when almost nobody else in a white uniform had it going, Wilson was terrific in the first half, scoring 13 points to keep Kansas both in it and in front by halftime. He finished 5-of-9 from the floor for 17 points and a game-high 13 rebounds. 17 points on nine shots is a major step forward in the efficiency department for Wilson, who not only was aggressive and in attack mode all night long but also played a huge role in forcing UT’s Timmy Allen into 2-of-15 shooting in his 40 minutes. At least two of Wilson’s buckets and two of his rebounds were off of hard crashes to the offensive glass, where he wiggled his hand in there to get the ball to go through when no one else could find a way to do it. KU needs Wilson to be elite if they’re going to make a run this postseason and I can’t think of a better final regular season game to build off of.

2 – David McCormack – McCormack was a monster all night, even if it wasn’t the prettiest performance ever. He played big, strong and relentless basketball and finished with 22 points and 10 rebounds in 36 minutes. He scored four points in OT and was a perfect 10-for-10 from the free throw line, with every one of them carrying the weight of the outcome with it. McCormack was actually pretty close to a 30-point night. Had he just made a few more of the bunnies he missed, he might have gotten there. But he did enough for KU to win a crucial game, and, like Wilson, should take a lot of confidence from this outing into the postseason. After a little bit of rest, that is.

3 – Christian Braun – Braun started quiet and made just 3 of 9 shots, but he finished with 13 points and 11 rebounds and was terrific on the glass late in the game. He hit 2 of his 3 3-point attempts and was 5-of-7 at the free throw line, both good numbers. He joked after the game that he and McCormack have an ongoing debate about which is the better free throw shooter. McCormack got him on this night and has made 22 in a row, making Braun’s argument a little tougher to make at the moment. Still, Braun out-rebounded Big Dave and showed plenty of fire in helping Kansas will their way to a Big 12 title.

4 – Ochai Agbaji – Six of his eight points came in overtime, including the only basket he made all night. It’s easy to look at Agbaji’s off shooting night and say he wasn’t very good. But he played 39 minutes and was a huge part of everything Kansas did, whether scoring or creating opportunities for others. KU will need Agbaji to be closer to the 20-points-per-game player that he’s been all season than the player he was on Saturday. But when winning time arrived, he found a way to help Kansas get over the hump. He had an opportunity to be the hero with the game tied and the ball in his hands with 15 seconds remaining in regulation, but could not get a shot off. Teams are onto him. And no one is going to want to watch Agbaji beat them. As long as he continues to stay comfortable finding ways to make opponents pay for that approach, he can help Kansas in a big way whether he’s on or not.

5 – Dajuan Harris Jr. – Harris was better in this one than his 1-of-8 shooting clip and 3 total points indicates. For one, he played 38 minutes and was tough defensively, with four blocks and a steal. For two, he dished four assists without a turnover. But bigger than any of the numbers was the fact that he continued to look to be aggressive on offense. He missed a bunch of close shots that he probably should’ve made. And he will make them most of the time. As long as he continues to be aggressive, that will help Kansas. And, for the second time in as many games, he was exactly that.

6 – Remy Martin – Martin got the start and helped Kansas get off to a good start, scoring the first points of the game and dishing a tough assist to McCormack for an early bucket. For a minute there, it was shades of the season’s early days, when Martin played like he was shot out of a cannon. He finished with just 7 minutes of playing time and didn’t log any other meaningful stats. He continues to be the in-case-you-need him type of player, but all parties involved seem to be comfortable with that, so call him one heck of an insurance policy and keep going.

7 – Jalen Coleman-Lands – He was almost the game’s hero, launching a sharp-angled buzzer-beater at the end of regulation that would have won the game had he got it off just a fraction of a second earlier. But he did hit a big shot early in the game — after checking in as the sixth senior to play — and grabbed a couple of rebounds in his 7:09 on the court. Like Martin — but in a different way — Coleman-Lands seems to be comfortable with his role and doesn’t seem too worried about not knowing how big or small it might be on any given night. His maturity allows him to stay ready no matter what and that is a luxury that many teams would like to have.

8 – Mitch Lightfoot – He picked up a couple of early fouls and, boom!, just like that the dream of Lightfoot having his best game in his last game were gone. Truth be told, it probably wasn’t in the cards anyway. But he surely figured he’d play more than 9:19 in his final game inside Allen Fieldhouse. The good news was this: One, Lightfoot can handle whatever by this point. Two, McCormack was good enough in his 36 minutes that the Jayhawks were not in desperate need of Lightfoot heading out there to bail him out. Two good developments for sure. And let’s be honest: Lightfoot’s had more opportunities to take the court at AFH than just about anybody, so this one — last game or not — was probably no big deal to him. He got the start. He got the win. And he gave a great senior speech. Call it a successful night and head to the next one.

9 – KJ Adams – Adams mixed it up a couple of times under the basket in the 3:19 he played to help give McCormack a breather. And he got to the free throw line as a result of one of them. One point and one rebound in just over 3 minutes isn’t sexy, but in a game that went to OT, that one point might’ve been bigger than people thought at the time.

10 – Joe Yesufu – Not a whole lot worth noting for Yesufu other than the fact that, even when he’s not putting up numbers or getting big minutes (7:43 in this one), he still finally looks comfortable when he’s out there. KU will need him. They just didn’t in this one.

11 – Zach Clemence – Clemence played just 1:32 and didn’t attempt a shot. No surprise there. He jacked (and missed) two the other night after just checking in and Kansas coach Bill Self noted that he’d like to see Clemence and a couple of other reserves move the ball and get a feel for the action a little more before they start jacking shots. That might’ve factored into his final line in this one. But the limited PT had as much to do with it as anything.

Season standings

1 – Ochai Agbaji, 278 +

2 – Christian Braun, 260

3 – Dajuan Harris Jr., 235

4 – Jalen Wilson, 215 •

5 – David McCormack, 182

6 – Mitch Lightfoot, 148

7 – Remy Martin, 132 z

8 – Joseph Yesufu, 104

9 – Jalen Coleman-Lands, 94 b

10 – KJ Adams, 81

11 – Zach Clemence, 75 y

12 – Bobby Pettiford, 50 x

• Missed first 3 games to serve a suspension

x – Out with abdominal injury starting Dec. 6 (returned Jan. 11) Done for the season on Feb. 25.

y – Out with a toe injury starting Jan. 11 (returned Feb. 12)

z – Missed 10 games with a knee injury (returned Feb. 26)

  • – Missed 1 game because of COVID-19

b – Missed 1 game because of a migraine headache

Comments

Steve Zimmerman 5 months, 1 week ago

Kudos to your rankings page, Matt. Couldn't agree more with your choice! Sure, DMac also deserved to be ranked #1 (i thought he was your choice because of Senior Night besides his stellar performance mentioned above:) - Glad that you deducted some points off of his performance due to those missed bunnies!

Lee Short 5 months, 1 week ago

Thought the shout-out by Coach on your ratings was great.

Your ratings page is, I suspect, is one of the best-kept secrets that many Kansas fans have yet to stumble upon!

Eliott Reeder 5 months, 1 week ago

Self though it should be 1. D-Mac 2. J-Wil, but I agree with you, Matt! Jalen is our junkyard dog and the scrappiest player we have. McCormack did a lot of good things yesterday but his game would have looked worse had Jalen not swooped in to put several of David’s missed bunnies in the basket.

Lee Short 5 months, 1 week ago

Yeah, I thought DMAC did pretty well, but he DUD shoot more than anyone else on the KU roster in 36 minutes. And, he plays around the basket, which should garner more scoring on goal. I could be wrong, but if you take the OT period away and the free throws, I think he score just 8 points (4 baskets) which is good, but typically not enough for the top spot for a regulation game.

I think some of the times Dmac was fouled, still should have gone in. (I know that's a difference between him and Azubuke's shooting from one to two feet away..)

Seems like DMac should have been higher up the rebound leader board. (He only had the 3rd most for the team.)

All that is the say, he did much, much better, but I can't go as far as Self went by putting him at the top of the list. The more season goes along, however, the more impressed I am with Jalen! May man Jalen seems fearless and fast. Reminds me of Frank Mason some. So much mental toughness. Always willing to put his body on the line for the team. Man, I love Jalen's ferocity and tenacity.

Dirk Medema 5 months, 1 week ago

Matt - Did you feel like almost a rock star when Coach mentioned the ratings? Kinda like when a real rock star passes in a crowd and gives a nod in your direction. 😉 Also kinda cool to realize that they do read what’s written here, though hopefully not too much of the comments.

I understood Coach’s comments different than Eliot and Lee. I thought Coach started with saying that JWil was his top pick but that David would likely get the nod because of the point total. Generally good to agree with a HOF coach. This is another example of a rating system with value scores more than ranking scores. Compare the performances of TCU v1 and ut. Guessing most of TCU performances wouldn’t even make the top half here though given the same relative value.

I also loved his comment about Ochai, and even Coach Beard. Ochai is exceptional, but you can’t take away everything.

Also wondering how many times there have been triple double doubles?

Lee Short 5 months, 1 week ago

Dirk, re your blanket statement about reading "too much of the comments", why are you hopeful that the coach only reads a few comments by ardent fans? If he is secure in his views after reading them, he's not going to change. (That may or may not be a good thing.) If he realizes there are some good points to be made by people following basketball for decades, is that a bad thing?

At the top of Colin Powell's "Keys for Success" seminars made around the country, Colin stated rule #1 for success is: "Question the experts". We all have areas of expertise. I lived by Colin's rule in my career. I loved being challenged in my professional area of expertise. It just made me that much more successful in my area of expertise whether the questions/comments were posed for others within my field or by generalists/people outside my field. My bet is Coach Self would agree with Colin's key to success principle.

As the saying goes, "Eat the chicken, spit out the bones".

Bj Cassady 5 months, 1 week ago

Can we have 1 and 1A? 1 being JW and 1A being DMac. Both were exceptional and a bit ahead of CB those 3 were head and shoulders ahead of the rest of the others.

Dirk Medema 5 months, 1 week ago

Well said Lee. Probably should have included the sarcasm font in my comment.

I would suggest that maybe there’s also some nonsense that’s a time waster. Part of the challenge with the digital age is information overload.

Rodney Crain 5 months, 1 week ago

Would have had both JW and Dmac at #1. They had very strong games.

Why would Self read the comments? What possible value could he get?

I see no one that posts on here, including me, with any insight that will help or hurt our program.

Now if one of us was the video person for the program the sky is the limit to what we can add. This is true just ask the janitor. :)

Dirk Medema 5 months, 1 week ago

I heard there were regional and national award winners commenting. Not sure if if the awards were for salesman or janitor of the year or something else.

Rodney Crain 5 months, 1 week ago

You forgot Global (twice) but we are splitting hairs now. lol

Lee Short 5 months, 1 week ago

Rodney, yeah I am sure you are right. No way coach could ever be reminded of any of the factors that lead to success when he is in the think of things looking at a problem from one inch away. No value from added perspectives. He is always in constant command of all the success factors all the time. (See article below.)

https://pbetting.co.uk/24-traits-of-a-great-basketball-coach/

Rodney, you obviously know more than Colin Powell about whether experts should ever be questioned. I am sure you have never questioned world-renowned experts on any subject whether it involved decisions surrounding the Ukraine war, covid or anything else.

Maybe Coach should also quit reading Matt's ranking articles as well. Obviously, there is nothing for Coach to gain from reading his articles since he is not a HOF coach.

Interesting world you live in.

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