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KU’s David McCormack saves best for last, delivers second straight monster game in title-game win over UNC

Kansas forward David McCormack (33) turns for a shot over North Carolina forward Armando Bacot (5) during the second half of the NCAA National Championship game on Monday, April 4, 2022 at Caesars Superdome in New Orleans.

Kansas forward David McCormack (33) turns for a shot over North Carolina forward Armando Bacot (5) during the second half of the NCAA National Championship game on Monday, April 4, 2022 at Caesars Superdome in New Orleans. by Nick Krug

It took a little while to get to because there were so many other things to write after this one. But here is your final edition of The KU Sports Ratings for the 2021-22 season. Keep an eye out for something special and kind of unique to recap these rankings in the days/weeks ahead.

1 – David McCormack – The one thing that demonstrated McCormack’s value in this game better than anything else was incredibly simple to see. When he was on the floor, the Jayhawks looked like they had a chance. When he wasn’t, they didn’t. McCormack finished with 15 points and 10 tough rebounds in just 29 minutes of action while fighting through foul trouble. It’s been a long road for Big Dave, full of somem pretty high highs and quite a few lows, as well. But if this is the end of his time at Kansas — and there’s no reason to think it isn’t — he ended on about as high of a note as a player possibly could’ve. One of the more overlooked elements of McCormack’s performance on Monday was the tone he set by diving on the floor for the loose ball on one of UNC’s first few possessions. That set the tone for the game, and even though McCormack and the Jayhawks labored hard after that, it was clear, through McCormack’s actions, that KU’s top players were planning to bring their best in this one.

2 – Christian Braun – You can talk about his defense on the final possession or the passion he brings this team most nights. But by far his biggest contribution to KU winning the national championship game was the way he attacked to open the second half. By imposing his will on the Tar Heels and then screaming about it a little afterwards, Braun brought new hope and belief to the Kansas bench and the rest of the team fed off of his energy and confidence. His final line for the final game of the season registered 12 points, 12 rebounds, 3 assists and just one turnover, all while playing the entire 40 minutes.

3 – Dajuan Harris Jr. – If his teammates said Harris was the one who keyed the second-half surge that got Kansas back into the game, it's hard not to imagine there’s some validity to that. His 3 steals and 3 assists in 27 minutes helped offset the four turnovers and 1-of-5 shooting. And the best part about most of those steals was the fact that they came in clutch fashion and crucial points in the game. Harris was terrific offensively in the semifinal win over Villanova. And he was equally as good as that on defense in the second half when the Jayhawks absolutely had to have it.

4 – Remy Martin – It was close between Martin and Wilson for the four spot in the final rankings of the season, but 4-of-6 shooting from 3-point range is pretty ridiculous in a national championship game. Remy took some huge shots in clutch moments and delivered each time. He finished with 14 points on 5-of-9 shooting in 21:19 of playing time. In many ways, it was the perfect snapshot of the types of games Martin delivered when he was finally healthy and the season was on the line.

5 – Jalen Wilson – He didn’t shoot the ball great — just 5-of-13 for the game and 26% from 3-point range for the season — but he did catch fever from Braun’s way of attacking the Tar Heels and played a key role in how quickly Kansas came back early in the second half. Wilson showed throughout the season that, even though he was capable of scoring from the outside from time to time, his best games came when he forced the issue and attacked straight downhill. Few players could stop his combination of size, strength, skill and footwork and his ability in the paint and around the rim was a real weapon for the Jayhawks this season.

6 – Ochai Agbaji – In the category of things that don’t make any sense but actually really still do, Agbaji finishes the season with his lowest single-game ranking on a night when he was named the Most Outstanding Player at the Final Four. None of what he did or did not do on Monday had any bearing on Agbaji’s magical season, which has been well documented throughout this Kansas run. Whether the stats were there or not, this guy was the soul of this team, and his unflappable demeanor and general presence allowed everyone to be themselves and grow at their own pace. That allowed this group to become a team and that team won a national title despite their All-American shooting just 4-of-9 from the floor and 3-of-8 at the free throw line, with three rebounds, two turnovers and one assist.

7 – KJ Adams – Despite playing just 2:44 for the game, Adams’ minutes were actually pretty massive. He checked in for the final couple minutes of the first half and helped Kansas get to the locker room down just 15 without risking further foul trouble by McCormack. And then, with 4.3 seconds remaining and the game on the line, he was asked to check in to defend North Carolina’s last-ditch effort to try to tie the game. He didn’t have to do much on the play, but, look; any freshman who has played precious little throughout the postseason but stays ready to go in during moments like that certainly has my respect. He also has a bright future.

8 – Mitch Lightfoot – I can’t imagine Lightfoot pictured a 2 points, 1 rebound, 4 fouls game being the way he would close out his long college career. I also can’t image that Lightfoot cared one bit. His team was the last team standing this postseason and the good doctor, after six seasons with the program, was finally a national champion.

9 – Jalen Coleman-Lands – He played just 2:11 and did not attempt a shot in his final college game. But he did get a national champions hat and memories that will last a lifetime. Coleman-Lands turned out to be way more than just Ochai insurance on this roster. He became a part of the family, he provided a veteran, mature presence that every team needs and he finished the season as a legitimate part of the rotation on a national title winner.

Final 2021-22 season standings

1 – Ochai Agbaji, 350 +

2 – Christian Braun, 327

3 – Dajuan Harris Jr., 294

4 – Jalen Wilson, 286 •

5 – David McCormack, 249

6 – Remy Martin, 200 z

7 – Mitch Lightfoot, 194

8 – Joseph Yesufu, 120

9 – Jalen Coleman-Lands, 120 b

10 – KJ Adams, 99

11 – Zach Clemence, 84 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

Reply 5 comments from Matt Tait Dirk Medema John Smith Robert  Brock Rodney Crain

A man possessed, Kansas forward David McCormack tops ratings after big night in 81-65 Final Four win over Villanova

Kansas forward David McCormack, center, celebrates after scoring during the second half of a college basketball game against Villanova in the semifinal round of the Men's Final Four NCAA tournament, Saturday, April 2, 2022, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Kansas forward David McCormack, center, celebrates after scoring during the second half of a college basketball game against Villanova in the semifinal round of the Men's Final Four NCAA tournament, Saturday, April 2, 2022, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

1 – David McCormack – To think that McCormack played fewer than 30 minutes (29) and yet still dominated is pretty impressive. For the second game in a row — both massive, massive games for Kansas — the senior forward was good from the jump and ready to bring his best. In Saturday's 81-65 win over Villanova, he scored on easy buckets by being strong and in the right place. He scored on tough shots when Villanova defended him well. And he played with the passion of a mad man who knew he could not be stopped. One of the more underrated aspects of his game on Saturday night was his patience in the post. In a game of that magnitude, with so much on the line, it would be real easy to let your emotions get away from you. McCormack never did. Instead, he channeled them into productive and efficient basketball and led the Jayhawks into Monday’s title game with 25 points on 10-of-12 shooting and nine tough rebounds. Check this number out: +25. That’s what the Jayhawks were when McCormack was on the floor on Saturdays. Wowzers.

2 – Ochai Agbaji – Nothing says big time player making big time plays in a big time game quite like what Agbaji did on Saturday night. He looked like he was shooting in an open gym setting for much of the first 10 minutes, knocking down casual, rhythm jumpers to help Kansas claim its big lead. He was aggressive, he wanted the ball, he didn’t hesitate to let it fly and he drained everything. It wasn’t until the second half that he showed he was human by missing and that came after Villanova did everything it could to (a) game plan to stop him and (b) take him away once he got going. He finished with 21 points and was the perfect complement to what McCormack was able to do inside, giving the big man the room he needed by pulling Villanova’s defenders to the perimeter in bunches.

3 – Jalen Wilson – Wilson’s had a few of these. Not-great shooting nights (4-of-11) that he more than made up for by getting on the glass. He led all players with a dozen rebounds, picking up 11 points in the process to drop another double-double in a game-high 37 minutes of action. He also added five assists and just one turnover. Wilson had a couple of tough drives to the rim and five big offensive rebounds. His scrappiness helped keep Villanova from ever getting too close after they started chipping into that 19-point Kansas lead.

4 – Dajuan Harris Jr. – Harris hit three big 3-pointers, a couple at crucial times and also finished with a 4/1 assist-to-turnover ratio and 2 steals in 30 minutes. All were good numbers. But his early defense on standout Villanova guard Collin Gillespie was by far his most important contribution. He frustrated Gillespie from the jump, harassing him out high and in the post as he tried to use his size to back Harris down. You can’t say enough about the number of times Harris has delivered in a different way on a given defensive assignment throughout the season. Big guys, small guys. Quick guys, physical guys. You name it, he’s been up to the task. Checking Gillespie was a big test and he passed with flying colors, making sure that Kansas did not give Villanova any hope of dictating the way this one was played.

5 – Christian Braun – Ladies and gentlemen, I introduce to you, “The Closer.” After watching his teammates stake Kansas to a series of double-digit leads, Braun did his damage at the end, knocking in three of the four shots he made late to deliver the final knockout blow. He played 33 minutes and was better than the low number in the points column most of the night indicated. He dished 5 assists with 2 turnovers and added a block and a steal to his 3 rebounds. His points were big but his attitude was bigger. Braun’s nastiness after his big shots definitively ended any and all hope Villanova had of staging an improbable comeback late. And his teammates absolutely love it when he goes berserk like that. Expect to see more of it than you’ve seen all year on Monday night. No reason to hold anything back now.

6 – Remy Martin – Call me crazy, but after a pretty quiet night on Saturday, it sure seems like things are set up well for Martin to have a big night on Monday. Villanova is so disciplined and detail-oriented and Harris was so good defensively that it made it hard for Martin to put his fingerprints on this one. He hit a 3, grabbed 5 rebounds and dished two assists without a turnover in 21 minutes. So it’s not as if his contributions were meaningless. They just weren’t the postseason Remy Martin we’ve grown accustomed to seeing. You have to think that’s still in there and that, in what will be his final game in a wild run as a Jayhawk, he’ll be ready to break it out. He, like the rest of these guys, is just one more win away from a national title.

7 – Mitch Lightfoot – Lightfoot was not nearly as effective as McCormack inside in this one, simply because he does not have the same size. McCormack was a bully in there tonight, and Lightfoot got bullied a little at times. His bucket at the end of the first half was pretty huge, though, as it helped Kansas preserve the mental edge of being up double digits after an amazing first half. He also added 4 rebounds, a block and a turnover in 10 minutes. And if McCormack had not picked up his second foul with 6:02 to play in the first half, Lightfoot’s minutes might’ve been cut in half.

8 – KJ Adams – He checked in with four other reserves for the game’s final minute as Kansas dribbled out the clock. Throughout the season, I’ve tried to break down some aspect of these deeper reserves even on nights when they didn’t play many minutes. But at this point it’s pretty simple. KU is going to play seven guys on Monday night and these guys will be absolutely fine with that because they want to win a ring.

8 – Zach Clemence – He checked in with four other reserves for the game’s final minute as Kansas dribbled out the clock. Throughout the season, I’ve tried to break down some aspect of these deeper reserves even on nights when they didn’t play many minutes. But at this point it’s pretty simple. KU is going to play seven guys on Monday night and these guys will be absolutely fine with that because they want to win a ring.

8 – Jalen Coleman-Lands – He checked in with four other reserves for the game’s final minute as Kansas dribbled out the clock. Throughout the season, I’ve tried to break down some aspect of these deeper reserves even on nights when they didn’t play many minutes. But at this point it’s pretty simple. KU is going to play seven guys on Monday night and these guys will be absolutely fine with that because they want to win a ring.

8 – Joe Yesufu – He checked in with four other reserves for the game’s final minute as Kansas dribbled out the clock. Throughout the season, I’ve tried to break down some aspect of these deeper reserves even on nights when they didn’t play many minutes. But at this point it’s pretty simple. KU is going to play seven guys on Monday night and these guys will be absolutely fine with that because they want to win a ring.

Season standings

1 – Ochai Agbaji, 346 +

2 – Christian Braun, 319

3 – Dajuan Harris Jr., 287

4 – Jalen Wilson, 281 •

5 – David McCormack, 240

6 – Remy Martin, 194 z

7 – Mitch Lightfoot, 192

8 – Joseph Yesufu, 120

9 – Jalen Coleman-Lands, 119 b

10 – KJ Adams, 96

11 – Zach Clemence, 84 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

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Big Dave comes up huge in KU’s 76-50 Elite Eight win over Miami in Chicago

Kansas forward David McCormack (33) celebrates with Kansas forward Jalen Wilson (10) and Kansas guard Dajuan Harris Jr. (3) after an and-one bucket during the second half on Sunday, March 27, 2022 at United Center in Chicago. The Jayhawks defeated the Hurricanes, 76-50 to advance to the Final Four.

Kansas forward David McCormack (33) celebrates with Kansas forward Jalen Wilson (10) and Kansas guard Dajuan Harris Jr. (3) after an and-one bucket during the second half on Sunday, March 27, 2022 at United Center in Chicago. The Jayhawks defeated the Hurricanes, 76-50 to advance to the Final Four. by Nick Krug

1 – David McCormack – As he walked out of the United Center to the team bus — as the last player to leave KU’s locker room — McCormack said Sunday was a day to respond. Boy, did he. He responded to a rough couple of weeks. He and his team responded to a rough first half. And this group responded to everyone who said earlier this season, or perhaps even at the start of this tournament, that they did not have enough to get to a Final Four by getting there on the back of their big man, who finished with 15 points on 6-of-7 shooting and proved to be too much of a monster for Miami to handle down low. His and-one bucket early in the first half pushed KU’s lead from 5 to 8 and was the unofficial beginning of the end for the Hurricanes. Not only did it push the KU lead closer to double digits, but it also fully injected serious life into everyone on the KU roster. McCormack looked good from the start in this one. And now he gets to try to keep that response going on college basketball’s biggest stage with the Jayhawks just 2 wins away from their ultimate goal.

2 – Ochai Agbaji – The 18 points on 8-of-12 shooting marked a return to normal for Agbaji, who cashed both of his 3-point attempts and also scored going to the rim much the way he had throughout the early and middle portions of the season. But don’t overlook how big his 4 assists and 4 steals were in this one. One of those steals, on the opening possession of the second half, kept Miami from pushing its lead to 8 or 9 points and gave KU instant momentum. The KU senior has been so efficient all season long that an 18-point night on 75% shooting kind of seems like a ho-hum showing. But it was not. It was huge. On a big stage. And it reminded Agbaji of what he can do for this team just in time to take that confidence to New Orleans with him.

3 – Christian Braun – Braun’s mini five-point run was so big to kick-starting KU’s second half run and it featured one of those emotional moments that have become his signature on the court. Charging hard to the rim, Braun flushed a two-handed jam to tie the game at 40 and then followed that up with KU’s first 3-point make of the day to give the Jayhawks the lead they would never relinquish. He finished with 12 points on 4-of-9 shooting and added 6 rebounds, 4 assists and 0 turnovers in what turned out to be an all-around solid night after he officially woke up.

4 – Jalen Wilson – You can look at Wilson’s 1-for-8 shooting numbers and easily conclude that he didn’t play very well. If you do that, though, you probably didn’t watch the game. Wilson was far from perfect. And, yeah, you’d like to see him make more than one shot in eight tries. But his 11 rebounds — and, more importantly, the fact that grabbing them gave him the ability to aggressively push the ball up the floor with tenacity each time — might have been as big as any single stat of the entire night.

5 – Mitch Lightfoot – The numbers don’t wow you — especially that 3-for-8 mark at the free throw line — but there’s no denying that Lightfoot’s impact was massive in this one. He was active, aggressive, assertive and confident, and his ability to play as close to the way he did in the Big 12 tournament in Kansas City gave the Jayhawks something extra inside to pair with McCormack. With another week of rest and rehab before the Final Four game, Lightfoot should be ready to go, perhaps at 100% again, for what will be the final one or two games of his Kansas career. He’ll find a way to stay calm through all of that, but you can imagine what kind of fire and passion he plans to bring to the team this week.

6 – Remy Martin – I actually thought this was just an average game for Martin and that’s mostly because not every shot he took went in. Playing in his familiar spot of checking in at the first media timeout, Martin was good again, though, knocking in 4 of 9 shots for 9 points and 6 rebounds in 24 minutes. One was a 3-pointer that was mostly just piling on and a couple of others either came in the form of hard drives to the rim or pull-up jumpers. Martin is so clearly comfortable both in his own skin and with his role on this team, and that combination is creating quite a product in crimson and blue. Self mentioned it after the game and it’s clear as day to see: This team carries a different swagger now that Remy’s a major part of it.

7 – Dajuan Harris Jr. – Harris was by no means bad in this one. He just didn’t stand out the way the six guys above him did on a night when everyone in a Kansas uniform played well in the second half. He did finish with three turnovers and had a couple of noticeable defensive lapses. But he did a good job when he was on Kameron McGusty in the second half and the KU point guard continues to be a massive part of this team’s championship puzzle.

8 – KJ Adams – His play in the final 29 seconds of the first half could not have been much more important. Switched onto McGusty for the final shot, with Miami already leading by 6, Adams stayed strong and followed every move McGusty tried to make, forcing a late turnover that kept the score at 35-29 and giving the Jayhawks a little bit of a lift as they headed into the locker room at the break. As McGusty fired up a half-shot-half-pass looking thing with the final seconds ticking away, Adams pumped his fist furiously, knowing he had done his job. The play happened right in front of me and it was pretty cool to follow his eyes and feet throughout the defensive stand. At one point, he glanced down at the other shot clock to see how much time was left so he had a better idea of when McGusty might go. Heck of a play in a huge moment for a guy with absolutely no experience on that stage.

9 – Jalen Coleman-Lands – He finally hit a 3-pointer late but misfired on his first four attempts while playing a handful of minutes in the second half. Coleman-Lands has not lit the world on fire lately, but he’s a guy who still seems to have that look that the ball is going in when he releases it. Whether it does or not will determine how much he plays from this point forward, but knowing that he’s always trigger-ready and capable is a nice luxury to have sitting on your bench.

10 – Zach Clemence – He played just the final 2 minutes and grabbed one rebound. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with Clemence or this role. His future remains bright. This is just as big time as it gets, and it’s crystal clear that Self is going to ride with the guys who know what that means and have experienced that before.

11 – Joe Yesufu – No stats in 2 minutes, including the same 29 seconds that Adams played at the end of the first half to give KU’s rotation guys a break and keep Martin from picking up a cheap foul late. They might not sell it as an NFT but Yesufu was ready when called upon.

Season standings

1 – Ochai Agbaji, 336 +

2 – Christian Braun, 312

3 – Dajuan Harris Jr., 279

4 – Jalen Wilson, 272 •

5 – David McCormack, 229

6 – Remy Martin, 188 z

7 – Mitch Lightfoot, 187

8 – Joseph Yesufu, 118

9 – Jalen Coleman-Lands, 117 b

10 – KJ Adams, 94

11 – Zach Clemence, 82 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

Reply 6 comments from Dirk Medema Dale Rogers Robert  Brock Plasticjhawk Rodney Crain

Kansas sophomore Jalen Wilson goes beast mode in 2nd half of Sweet 16 win over Providence

Kansas forward Mitch Lightfoot (44) and Kansas forward Jalen Wilson (10) high five during a Jayhawk run in the first half against Providence on Friday, March 25, 2022 at United Center in Chicago.

Kansas forward Mitch Lightfoot (44) and Kansas forward Jalen Wilson (10) high five during a Jayhawk run in the first half against Providence on Friday, March 25, 2022 at United Center in Chicago. by Nick Krug

1 – Jalen Wilson – Shooting slightly better than 5-of-16 would’ve made this arguably Wilson’s best game as a Jayhawk. And it wasn’t necessarily the numbers that made it close to that. Instead, it was the way Wilson answered the bell when KU was reeling and really needed someone to take charge and lead it back to safety. Wilson did exactly that on drives to the basket after Providence both tied it and took a one-point lead late in Friday’s 66-61 Kansas victory. Wilson looked like a man possessed and he continued to go to the well on his drive to the rim that features him taking contact and finishing through it. KU coach Bill Self said after the game that Wilson was the most efficient weapon KU had in driving to the rim. And the way Providence defended Ochai Agbaji and showed it was not afraid to be physical made Wilson’s contributions all the more important. He’s locked in. He’s as confident as he’s ever been and he looks an awful lot like a guy who simply refuses to be denied.

2 – Remy Martin – I can’t quite remember seeing anything like what Remy Martin is doing right now. He’s fearless, totally loose and having a blast out there. And it’s almost reached the point where you can set your clock by both the specifics and the timing of his production. For the third NCAA Tournament game, Martin checked in midway through the first half and immediately made an impact. In this one, he scored 11 of 13 Kansas points in a first-half stretch that helped KU take control. But it was more than that. Late in the first half, he hit a bucket, told the crowd to get loud (it did) and then talked through a defensive possession with Jalen Wilson before it played out almost exactly the way he saw it coming. His offense is huge and it has been so important for the Jayhawks during this run. But his increased effort on defense has been just as important and you’re looking at a guy who is incredibly comfortable in his own skin right now and someone who is having a blast doing exactly what he came to Kansas to do.

3 – Christian Braun – Braun scored just 6 points, Agbaji had 5 and Kansas still won. Whaaaaat? Braun wasn’t much better offensively than his teammate (see below), but he did grab 10 rebounds and dished 2 assists. He flashed a few moments of his signature fire in this one, never bigger than after his hammer dunk down the lane early in the game. He also played an important role defensively, especially early on when KU’s defensive intensity and effort was as good as it had been all season. Braun no doubt would rather make more than just 2 shots, but the Jayhawks survived without him doing that and he found other ways to make an impact in his 35 minutes.

4 – Ochai Agbaji – We all know he hasn’t shot it well in this tournament yet, but anyone who knows basketball knows that he’s still played a big role in Kansas winning and advancing. Look no further for proof of that than Friday night, when he made just 2 of 8 shots for 5 points, but blocked 4 shots and made one of the game’s biggest plays on offense. He doesn’t appear to be pressing, but he does appear to be off. That’s fairly decent news for Jayhawks because, as Self said after Friday’s win, it just takes one game for Agbaji’s shot to get back on. And Self and his teammates believe it’s coming. In the meantime, Agbaji is finding other ways to help this team win — a lot of it has been on defense — while not forcing up shots and trying to shoot his way out of whatever’s going on. That could be worse than just missing five or six shots a game, so give the veteran All-American credit for knowing better than to do that.

5 – Dajuan Harris Jr. – Harris made a couple of aggressive offensive plays that I thought were both underrated and pretty important. And they were both early in each half. Harris continues to take a back seat to Martin at times, but the two can play together and have shown that that can be effective in spots. Harris’ biggest contribution the rest of the day will continue to come on defense. It’s obvious that he’s still a primary table-setter, too. But, if Martin is going to take a chunk of his minutes — and he very much has — Harris may not be in position to do that as much simply because he may not be the primary initiator of KU’s offense when Martin’s out there. His head’s in the right place and he’ll do whatever’s asked. That’s the theme of this team and a big reason they’re still playing.

6 – David McCormack – It wasn’t pretty. Heck, it was downright ugly at times in the first half. But McCormack’s mere presence — as in physical size — played a pretty big role in the Jayhawks righting the ship in the second half after watching a 13-point lead disappear entirely. McCormack does not look fully healthy. But if we’ve learned anything about the guy throughout his Kansas career it’s that he’s not one to make excuses or draw attention to any type of reason for why he might not be producing. He knows, as Self does as well, that if he’s good enough to be out there, he’ll be expected to perform. Late in the game, the KU big man did just that, prompting Self to say that Big Dave delivered when it counted and that KU might not have won without him. I’ve thought all week that McCormack still has one of those powerful double-doubles in him this season. I have my doubts now. But that doesn’t mean he still can’t find certain stretches of games to really help this team the rest of the way.

7 – Mitch Lightfoot – Lightfoot’s lone bucket put the Jayhawks up 13 points early in the second half, but it was far from the most important thing he did in this one. Like Agbaji, Lightfoot recorded 4 blocks in this one, showing good lift and his typically terrific timing in tallying 4 of KU’s 11 blocks. Still battling back from that sprained knee, Lightfoot looked almost all the way back to normal against Providence and he appears to be feeling good, now two weeks removed from suffering the injury. He could be needed even more against the smaller, more athletic Hurricanes on Sunday, so getting some significant run and producing likely positioned him well to head into that game with his regular dose of confidence.

8 – Jalen Coleman-Lands – Coleman-Lands played just four minutes and did not record a single statistic, as Self chose to shorten the heck out of his bench, playing just eight players total and six of them the majority of the minutes. Remember, with the longer timeouts and the season on the line with every possession, Self made it clear a while ago that, in order to win games at this time of the season, he would play his horses as much as he could and needed to. That limited JCL to just 4 minutes and kept Joe Yesufu, KJ Adams and Zach Clemence from checking in at all. Expect more of that in the Elite Eight, as well.

Season standings

1 – Ochai Agbaji, 326 +

2 – Christian Braun, 303

3 – Dajuan Harris Jr., 274

4 – Jalen Wilson, 264 •

5 – David McCormack, 218

6 – Remy Martin, 182 z

7 – Mitch Lightfoot, 180

8 – Joseph Yesufu, 117

9 – Jalen Coleman-Lands, 114 b

10 – KJ Adams, 90

11 – Zach Clemence, 80 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

Here's a look at our coverage from the Windy City so far:

• Survive & Advance: Top-seeded Kansas reaches Elite Eight with grind-it-out, 66-61 over Providence

• Ochai Agbaji’s lob dunk gives Kansas the lift it needs to hold off Providence

• Photo gallery: Kansas vs. Providence

• Game Day Breakdown: Kansas vs. Providence

• Sweet 16 Notebook: Jayhawks, Friars mirror each other

• Photo gallery from Thursday's open practices

• Providence eager to face college basketball blue blood

• Bill Self on leaving Illinois: 'It's worked out well for us'

• Basketball Friends breaks down what's at stake for KU in Chicago

• Experienced transfers lead Providence to Sweet 16

• Former Kansas guard Charlie Moore’s long basketball journey takes him back to Chicago

• Top-seeded Kansas arrives in Chicago

Reply 9 comments from Cassadys Dirk Medema Lee Short Len Shaffer David Gisi Robert  Brock Rodney Crain

The Amazing Remy Martin tops ratings for second time in KU’s current NCAA Tournament run

Kansas guard Remy Martin (11) celebrates a run by the Jayhawks during the second half on Saturday, March 19, 2022 at Dickies Arena in Fort Worth, Texas. The Jayhawks advanced to the Sweet 16 with a 79-72 win over the Bluejays.

Kansas guard Remy Martin (11) celebrates a run by the Jayhawks during the second half on Saturday, March 19, 2022 at Dickies Arena in Fort Worth, Texas. The Jayhawks advanced to the Sweet 16 with a 79-72 win over the Bluejays. by Nick Krug

1 – Remy Martin – Bro. Duuuude. Yo. What this guy is doing right now is absolutely insane. And, the craziest thing about it is that it’s exactly what everybody expected him to do all season long when he announced he was transferring to KU. Say this for the man: He’s got impeccable timing. Finally healthy, and getting stronger every day, Martin’s on some kind of heater. He scored 35 points and grabbed 8 rebounds and 8 assists with just one turnover in KU’s two games in Fort Worth. That included a KU-high of 20 points in the 79-72 win over Creighton on Saturday. His production is important and it has to make KU pretty tough to guard and prepare for. But his energy is just as important. He brings an immediate left the second he steps on the floor and is playing as hard as I can remember seeing just about anyone play during my time covering college basketball. He came to Kansas to win. And, as of late, he’s been a huge part of the reason KU is doing just that.

2 – Jalen Wilson – Had he shot it juuuuussst a little better, Wilson might’ve been No. 1 on this list. That’s even with Martin’s big day. He was terrific from the jump going after the ball on the glass and continues to show that there are few power players better than him in the entire country when it comes to driving downhill. His ability to maintain his balance and finish through contact is insane. It’s far and away the biggest area of improvement he made this season and, if he ever finds his shot on a more consistent basis again, he’ll be damn near unstoppable. The 14 boards were one shy of tying a career-high. You can’t ask for anything more than that kind of performance from one of your best players at the most important time of the season.

3 – Ochai Agbaji – He shot just 5-of-14 and had a really rough first half shooting the ball. But he stuck with it, kept taking good shots and hit some huge ones in the second half. None, of course, was bigger than the steal and left-handed dunk that put KU up 3 with 49.4 seconds to play. Agbaji is benefiting from Martin’s emergence and still getting the shots he needs and wants. He’ll start hitting them again soon, and, when he does, the Jayhawks will be awfully tough to beat. Agbaji added 3 assists — a pretty high number for him and his role — and 2 steals in 35 minutes.

4 – Christian Braun – He hit a big 3-pointer that should’ve been the dagger and also was insanely good getting to the rim in transition. That’s two games in a row now where the message to Braun from the bench early on was to wake up. And while I understand why they’re saying it I’m not sure it’s a matter of him not being game ready. These are big games. Bigger than any he’s ever played in. And they come with a whole different feel than other games. That can cause you to press and battle for even some of the simplest tasks. The good news for KU with Braun is, he’s such a competitor and gamer that even on a day when he was slow to get going, he still finished with 13 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists while playing 38 minutes.

5 – David McCormack – His big block in the game’s final minute was reason enough to put him fifth. He also added another block and swiped a couple of steals. His 2-for-8 shooting performance was not ideal. But neither was the matchup. Give McCormack credit for keeping his head where it needed to be in order to make that block late on a day when he easily could’ve been so frustrated that it took him out of the game completely.

6 – Dajuan Harris Jr. – Harris hit a big shot early but it was clear that even that was not going to take Creighton coach Greg McDermott out of his defensive game plan. As a result, Harris sat in favor of Martin, the bigger offensive threat, leaving Harris with an altogether quiet day. He hit two big free throws, dished two assists and did not turn it over. Here’s the thing, for those of you who out there who think that Remy Martin should be starting: He shouldn’t. The vibe the Jayhawks have going at the point guard position right now is perfect. The two are handling their roles perfectly and playing well, both in place of each other and while they’re out there together.

7 – Jalen Coleman-Lands – Coleman-Lands was a perfect 2-for-2 in this one, on decidedly different shots. The first came on a tough offensive rebound and put-back that turned out to be a pretty big bucket, if for no other reason than because it showed his continuing willingness to scrap for whatever he can get to help this team. His second, a wide-open 3-pointer from the wing in front of the KU bench felt, at the time, like it might be the dagger. It wasn’t, of course. But give JCL credit for knocking it down. He had all day to think about it and buried it. His defense continues to limit his minutes, but as long as the Jayhawks don’t face overly athletic teams — especially on the wing — he should be able to maintain the role he’s had so far this postseason.

8 – Mitch Lightfoot – When it comes to Lightfoot, the best news about KU’s win on Saturday is that the veteran big man now has almost a full week to rehab his injured knee. Give Lightfoot a ton of credit for getting ready enough to be out there this weekend. He certainly looked good enough and played with a ton of heart. But he also was noticeably slower and less explosive than he showed the week prior in Kansas City. With each passing day, though, his potential to help this team moving forward improves.

9 – KJ Adams – Adams got a few minutes in the first half, to see if his athleticism on the perimeter could help slow down Creighton’s smaller lineup. But he lasted just 4 minutes and didn’t make an impact. He missed his only shot on one he probably should’ve made.

10 – Joe Yesufu – It was a pretty rough game for Yesufu, albeit in limited minutes. He didn’t take a shot and turned it over twice — in pretty close proximity to one another — while playing just 3 minutes. Martin’s emergence has significantly impacted Yesufu’s opportunities. He still has value as a ball handler and energy lift off the bench. But his presence is not nearly as critical as it was a month ago.

Season standings

1 – Ochai Agbaji, 321 +

2 – Christian Braun, 297

3 – Dajuan Harris Jr., 270

4 – Jalen Wilson, 256 •

5 – David McCormack, 215

6 – Mitch Lightfoot, 178

7 – Remy Martin, 175 z

8 – Joseph Yesufu, 117

9 – Jalen Coleman-Lands, 113 b

10 – KJ Adams, 90

11 – Zach Clemence, 80 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

Reply 11 comments from Brad  Watson Dirk Medema Robert  Brock Barry Weiss Rodney Crain Lee Short Lonnie Ross Dillon Armen Kurdian

Big spark by Remy Martin leads to easy Kansas win, top spot in ratings

Kansas forward K.J. Adams (24), Kansas guard Remy Martin (11) and Kansas guard Jalen Coleman-Lands (55) look to check in during the second half on Thursday, March 17, 2022 at Dickies Arena in Fort Worth, Texas.

Kansas forward K.J. Adams (24), Kansas guard Remy Martin (11) and Kansas guard Jalen Coleman-Lands (55) look to check in during the second half on Thursday, March 17, 2022 at Dickies Arena in Fort Worth, Texas. by Nick Krug

1 – Remy Martin – His energy and enthusiasm off the bench is an absolute blast to watch and it’s clear his teammates feel the same way. Martin lives for relationships and loves to bring joy to people. That’s so much of who he is as a basketball player and it shows in everything he does. In this one, during the second half, Martin was fouled on a hard drive to the rim and his momentum carried him out of bounds all the way past the basket. While there, he handed out a couple of high-fives to KU band members. It took a while for the knee to heal and for the super-senior guard to get his confidence and swagger back. But it appears to be fully there again and the possibilities that opens up for this Kansas team are really something. Martin finished with 15 points on 6-of-8 shooting in 21 minutes.

2 – Dajuan Harris Jr. – Harris led Kansas at halftime with 12 points on 5-of-5 shooting. He was aggressive and confident with every shot he took and looked to be really comfortable running the floor with Remy Martin out there by his side. There will be matchups where that doesn’t work. But most nights it will. And to see how those two play off of each other and run KU’s attack together is a lot of fun. They’re in attack mode all the time. They play as hard as they can on most possessions. And they’re both lightning quick and super fast up and down the floor. What’s really cool about it is how much they seem to like each other, too.

3 – David McCormack – This was in no way one of McCormack’s best games, but I thought he had some pretty important — and emphatic — buckets and worked hard on the glass, too. Especially early. He finished with 9 points and 7 rebounds in 23 minutes and did not have to overexert himself much at all. It’s possible he won’t have to in Round 2 either, when the Jayhawks face Creighton without its best big man. If so, he’ll get some more important rest heading into next week if the Jayhawks are able to advance to the Sweet 16.

4 – Jalen Wilson – Wilson has become so good at going to the basket and absorbing contact while still finishing that it’s almost expected every time now. Credit goes to him for putting the work in and to KU strength coach Ramsey Nijem for helping Wilson build a frame that can withstand those hits, allowing him to play to that as one of his top strengths. The KU sophomore hit 5-of-9 shots in this one and grabbed 6 rebounds while dishing 3 assists. All of it in just 20 foul-plagued minutes. KU would like to see Wilson find his outside shot again (1-for-4 in this one), but he has become so good at so many other things — not the least of which is not forcing those shots — that it almost feels like if he finds it it’ll merely be a bonus.

5 – Christian Braun – Braun hit a couple of 3-pointers late and was 4-of-5 from distance on the night. But outside of that, I didn’t think this was one of his better games. He struggled to get going early, with both his mother from the stands and Kansas coach Bill Self getting on him early. And he made just 5-of-12 shots. Even some of his drives to the basket ended with him fading away from the rim instead of exploding to it. You might be able to chalk this one up to the late tip and all of that waiting. But there are a lot of guys who would kill to have Braun’s “off nights.”

6 – Ochai Agbaji – Agbaji didn’t shoot it great (5-of-14 overall and 1-of-5 from 3-point range) and finished with just 11 points while also coughing up five turnovers. While everyone in white was a little rusty early on, Agbaji appeared to be the one who had the hardest time shaking it off. He scord some easy baskets and did his usual damage above the rim on lobs. He also played hard, grabbing six boards in a team-high 32 minutes. On a lot of nights, we might look at this performance and try to dissect it and find out what was off. On this night, when Kansas didn’t need him to do much, we throw it away as a freebie for the Jayhawks, who will need bigger games from Agbaji going forward but did not have to sweat out one of his more average games in this one.

7 – Mitch Lightfoot – He played 7 first-half minutes with a brace on his left knee and actually looked pretty good. Most importantly, he looked like he was pretty comfortable and like he trusts the knee. His and-one bucket (and the free throw) came on a strong move in the post and led to a spirited celebration from the KU big man. He also grabbed 4 rebounds in his limited minutes and dished one assist. KU not needing him for more than 7 minutes was the perfect scenario. He got to test it out and see how it felt at game speed but did not have to worry about doing any additional damage to it. Now he gets another 36 or so hours to rest it and, more notably, KU gets a matchup where it might not need another big beyond McCormack.

8 – Jalen Coleman-Lands – He played just 7 minutes, but I liked almost every one of them. Why? Because, once again, Coleman-Lands did what he’s out there to do. He hit 2 of 3 from 3-point range, including a fun one just before the halftime buzzer, and added a couple of rebounds, a couple of fouls and a couple of turnovers. You can always ask for more from just about any bench player. And Coleman-Lands being able to provide KU with a little more will be important going forward. But as long as he keeps shooting when he’s open and moving it when he’s not, he’ll be doing what they want him to do.

9 – KJ Adams – Another guy who plays and tries so hard, one of the coolest things to watch with Adams is how much he shows his displeasure with himself after he doesn’t make a play. He had a couple of moments like that in this one, but was only out there 7 minutes, so it was tough to expect too much from him. He did grab a couple of boards, including a nice offensive rebound, and did not force any shots. His lone turnover was on a charging call after a thread-the-needle pas by Martin left him with nowhere to go. I thought the pass was perfect. Catchable and on time. I’d have liked to see Adams go straight up immediately to hang for a little jumper instead of trying to bowl toward the basket.

10 – Joe Yesufu – Finished with three fouls, one rebound and one assist in his 10 minutes and, for the most part didn’t do much. As those numbers suggest. His quickness is at its best when Joe’s playing with a confident demeanor. And I saw him make one move tonight — right in front of me — that was so quick it felt like I blinked and he was gone. That could be an indicator where his confidence currently sits. And as long as he stays where he needs to be in his mind, he’ll be in position to contribute on any given night.

11 – Zach Clemence – Forced up a bunch of shots (1-for-7), was in the wrong spot on a couple of occasions and just generally didn’t do much with his 9 minutes. He did play hard and grabbed 3 rebounds and dished 3 assists. But the mistakes outweighed the contributions in this one. Still, it was good for him and Adams to get some extended minutes on a stage like this. They’ve both stayed and been ready all year and now they don’t have to worry about the jitters that come with playing in their first NCAA Tournament game. Been there. Done that.

Season standings

1 – Ochai Agbaji, 313 +

2 – Christian Braun, 290

3 – Dajuan Harris Jr., 265

4 – Jalen Wilson, 247 •

5 – David McCormack, 209

6 – Mitch Lightfoot, 175

7 – Remy Martin, 165 z

8 – Joseph Yesufu, 116

9 – Jalen Coleman-Lands, 109 b

10 – KJ Adams, 88

11 – Zach Clemence, 80 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

Reply 2 comments from Rodney Crain Dirk Medema

Senior guard Remy Martin’s dynamic spark earns top spot, helps lead Kansas to Big 12 tourney title

Kansas guard Remy Martin (11), Kansas forward David McCormack (33) and Texas Tech guard Clarence Nadolny (3) wrestle for a loose ball during the second half of the Big 12 Tournament championship game on Saturday, March 12, 2022 at T-Mobile Center in Kansas City. Also at left is Kansas forward Jalen Wilson (10).

Kansas guard Remy Martin (11), Kansas forward David McCormack (33) and Texas Tech guard Clarence Nadolny (3) wrestle for a loose ball during the second half of the Big 12 Tournament championship game on Saturday, March 12, 2022 at T-Mobile Center in Kansas City. Also at left is Kansas forward Jalen Wilson (10). by Nick Krug

1 – Remy Martin – He played 26 minutes in KU's 74-65 Big 12 title game win over Texas Tech on a night when — full disclosure — I said I’d take the under on 10 minutes. And they were all important and all ultra-productive. Arguably Martin’s best game as a Jayhawk featured him scoring the final 10 points of the first half for Kansas, which led by one at the break. He looked quick, made shots, pushed the pace hard and also seemed to be having a ton of fun — Remy-type fun. He continues to say that he’s here to win and happy with any role he gets. And that’s what you want to hear. But it’s clear that when he’s more involved and can feel like his coaches and teammates trust him, Martin brings an entirely different look and dimension to this Kansas team. That’s great news for the Jayhawks and not so great news for their future opponents.

2 – David McCormack – McCormack had a big time double-double (18 points and 11 rebounds on 5-of-10 shooting and an 8-of-9 clip at the free throw line) and you could see it coming pretty early on. He started the game with a bucket in the post and was fearless in there all night long. I cannot remember seeing McCormack work quite so hard for position, constantly posting and sealing bigger and smaller players and letting his teammates know when he wanted the ball. His limited minutes in the first two games of the tournament kept him fresh and allowed him to be a big time factor in the title game and he took full advantage of it. The KU big man may not always be the easiest on the eyes, but no one should question his heart and desire. They’re there every night. And on this night they led to massive numbers and an even bigger KU win.

3 – Jalen Wilson – Scoreless in the first half and a little too content to settle for jump shots, Wilson flipped the switch in the second half and started getting grown-man buckets on the regular. He scored all 12 of his points in the second half and got all five of his baskets right at the rim, either in the post or on downhill drives. Wilson also grabbed 5 rebounds on the night and, like many of his teammates, was up for the challenge of battling for every square inch of space in the paint. Kansas coach Bill Self said Wilson was the Jayhawks’ best player in the second half, and the KU sophomore continues to look so comfortable on the court and play with so much joy. Those two facts lead to serious confidence in most cases and Wilson is playing with plenty of it.

4 – Ochai Agbaji – Agbaji’s buckets all seem to carry extra weight right now. For one, they fire up the crowd more than almost any other. For two, they seem to give his teammates an insane amount of confidence. And, for three, he seems to be getting them on his terms and where he wants them. He hit 3 of 6 3-point attempts tonight and also made 5 of 6 free throws for 16 points. His five turnovers, along with the strong play of many of his teammates, knocked him down a few spots, but he still did more than enough to lock up Big 12 tourney MVP honors, making him just the fifth player in the conference’s history to win regular season player of the year and tournament MVP in the same season. For those who might be interested, my Big 12 all-tourney ballot included: Agbaji (as MVP), Lightfoot, Bryson Williams, Umoja Gibson and Mike Miles Jr.

5 – Christian Braun – He was just 3-of-7 from the floor, but 8-of-9 at the free throw line. And the hard-charging left-handed finish late in the game that put Kansas up 66-60 was as good a basket as there was all night long. Braun snagged a couple steals and grabbed 5 rebounds on a night when it felt like he had twice that many. The reason? Simple. He showed up ready to match Texas Tech’s intensity and physicality and played 36 minutes as a result.

6 – Dajuan Harris Jr. – Wasn’t his night. He picked up a couple of fouls early and played just 19 minutes total, missing all three shots he took, all of them 3-pointers. Self made sure to point out to anyone who would listen that Harris is still rock solid and a huge part of this team. The talk, along with his absence on Saturday, was less critical because of the play of Martin. And if both can factor into KU’s run in the next couple of weeks, the Jayhawks suddenly have even more variety and options to choose from.

7 – Mitch Lightfoot – After back-to-back strong outings, Lightfoot was much quieter in this one. Part of the reason for that was Texas Tech’s relentless attack inside. Lightfoot, who has outstanding timing on blocked shots, was this close on at least two or three Texas Tech shot attempts and nearly got them. The other part of the reason was his departure from the game with a knee injury. It was not known after the game how serious the knee sprain is. And Lightfoot’s spirits seemed good, both during the final minutes on the bench and during the postgame celebration. We’ll know more tomorrow, I’m sure. His availability might be in question heading into next week and it also seems to be pretty important.

8 – Joe Yesufu – I have continued to like what I’ve seen from Yesufu in terms of his competitiveness and sense of belonging. He hits the glass hard, pushes the ball up the floor even harder and seems to be comfortable doing both. His offense is pretty hit-and-miss right now, and it seems like he might be better off moving the ball more and shooting less when he’s out there. That said, if he finds an open shot and can stay in rhythm, his teammates and coaches will all want him to take it.

9 – Jalen Coleman-Lands – He played just 2 minutes and seemed to get eaten up defensively. Just wasn’t his night. Nothing has changed for J-Cole, though. He knows his role. He’ll be out there when he’s asked to be and he’ll be ready.

10 – KJ Adams – I remember seeing him check out, but I don’t recall seeing him check in. Think he only played a handful of seconds. Depending on the status of Mitch Lightfoot moving forward, both Adams and Zach Clemence (who did not play on Saturday) might need to be ready for more action. Might. With Remy Martin doing his thing of late, KU could elect to play small if Lightfoot is limited and McCormack needs to rest. Time will tell.

Season standings

1 – Ochai Agbaji, 307 +

2 – Christian Braun, 283

3 – Dajuan Harris Jr., 255

4 – Jalen Wilson, 239 •

5 – David McCormack, 200

6 – Mitch Lightfoot, 170

7 – Remy Martin, 154 z

8 – Joseph Yesufu, 114

9 – Jalen Coleman-Lands, 105 b

10 – KJ Adams, 85

11 – Zach Clemence, 79 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

Reply 6 comments from Rodney Crain Surrealku Dirk Medema Barry Weiss Lee Short

Ochai Agbaji wows crowd, tops ratings on yet another big night in KU win over TCU

Kansas guard Ochai Agbaji (30) and Kansas forward Jalen Wilson (10) celebrate a dunk by Agbaji during the second half against TCU on Friday, March 11, 2022 at T-Mobile Center in Kansas City.

Kansas guard Ochai Agbaji (30) and Kansas forward Jalen Wilson (10) celebrate a dunk by Agbaji during the second half against TCU on Friday, March 11, 2022 at T-Mobile Center in Kansas City. by Nick Krug

1 – Ochai Agbaji – The dunk was insane. The aggressive mindset was off the charts once again. And his stats reflected all of it. Agbaji led the Jayhawks with 22 points on 9-of-17 shooting, again by just connecting on 2-of-6 3-point attempts to follow up his 1-of-6 showing from the night before. It’s hard to imagine any player being more locked in and confident than Agbaji is right now. He’s the best player in the Big 12 Conference and he knows it. What’s crazy is, rather than wearing down, he appears to just be getting stronger.

2 – Mitch Lightfoot – Lightfoot followed up Thursday’s spectacular game with another gem. Short on blocks in this one, Lightfoot made up for it with a career-high 15 points, scoring at will wherever he wanted. He also added 2 steals to the 2 blocks to keep his impact high on both ends. Asked after the game if this was his best game as a Jayhawk, Lightfoot said it would have to be up there. He also said that, with a maximum of just seven games remaining in his KU career, he has flipped the switch to playing as hard as he possibly can every night for every minute. It’s working tremendously and he has given Kansas a completely new element on offense.

3 – Jalen Wilson – Wilson scored just 9 points but only took 6 shots. He spent the rest of the night setting others up, finishing with 5 assists and just one turnover. We focus so much on Wilson’s ability to hit the glass and turn the corner and get downhill toward the rim that sometimes we forget that he can be a terrific table setter. That variety of skills helps ensure that, no matter what part of Wilson’s game may be off on a particular night, he still has two or three areas he can tap into that really help this team. He has seemed full of fire in recent weeks, too, perhaps sensing that money time has arrived.

4 – Remy Martin – Speaking of money time, Martin played his best game in months, finishing with 10 points on 4-of-10 shooting in 19 minutes. That last part was the best part, as Kansas coach Bill Self was encouraged enough by Martin’s quickness on offense and effort on defense to leave him on the floor for nearly half the game. Martin scored off the bounce and also hit a couple of jumpers. He misfired on one 3-pointer that, had it gone, surely would’ve led to the unleashing of that signature Remy Martin personality and flare that Kansas fans grew to love early in the season. Maybe it’s still coming. But even if it’s not, more games like this one and the one he delivered Thursday can help Kansas. The best truly may be yet to come still for last offseason’s No. 1 transfer.

5 – Christian Braun – Braun’s shot was a little off in this one, particularly on drives to the rim. But he hit one big three, grabbed 6 rebounds and played 33:13 while maxing out in the effort department. He also played a big role in KU’s early defensive effort, which stifled and suffocated the Horned Frogs out of anything and everything they hoped to get. Also worth noting tonight: Braun’s 6 rebounds in this one moved him into the top spot among all rebounders at this week’s Big 12 tournament.

6 – Dajuan Harris Jr. – He turned it over three times, but also dished 5 assists and swiped 2 steals in 24:35. His lob pass to Agbaji was certainly one of the biggest highlights of the night, and his effort continues to be maxed out at all times. At one point, after nearly giving the ball away near midcourt, he went fully horizontal and full extension, diving out of bounds to save the ball and the possession. Even when he got up off the floor, KU coach Bill Self lit into him a little bit. That’s mostly because the standard and expectations are so high for Harris and no one knows that better than the KU point guard himself.

7 – Joe Yesufu – The reserve guard hit a big 3 that helped blow the game open and finished with two rebounds and an assist in 14:20 of game action. He’s not always the prettiest sight out there, but he does seem to belong. The most important thing I’ve noticed over here is that he looks like a much more comfortable player on defense, both in guarding his man and with KU’s frequent switches. Self said after Friday’s win that he thought this team had improved drastically in its individual defense of late. And Yesufu is a great example of that.

8 – David McCormack – His 10 minutes of playing time on Thursday night made sense and seemed like a blessing. He played just 13:28 in this one and was limited, in part, because of his ineffectiveness along with the strong play by Lightfoot. KU is going to need McCormack to make a run later this month. And while he hasn’t looked great — in terms of his skills and his health — over in Kansas City this week, the extra rest and time spent off of his feet can only help in the long run. The big question will be, can he flip the switch back to on when KU needs him. We might find out in Saturday’s title game. But the way Lightfoot has been playing, the question, though crucial, does not need to be answered quite as quickly.

9 – Jalen Coleman-Lands – It wasn’t Coleman-Lands’ night, partly because of the matchup and partly because of how well Agbaji and Remy Martin played. He missed his only shot in 1:31 of game action and did not record another stat.

10 – KJ Adams – Adams played just 1:12 and did not record a single stat. It was a little surprising that KU did not try to use him more, given the matchup and the fact that Kansas led by double digits the entire second half. But the way this team is clicking right now, there’s really no need to mess up the flow.

11 – Zach Clemence – After getting in during Thursday’s first half, Clemence played just the final 38 seconds of this one and was a key part in the final KU starters to come off the floor getting the ovation they deserved.

Season standings

1 – Ochai Agbaji, 300 +

2 – Christian Braun, 277

3 – Dajuan Harris Jr., 250

4 – Jalen Wilson, 231 •

5 – David McCormack, 191

6 – Mitch Lightfoot, 166

7 – Remy Martin, 144 z

8 – Joseph Yesufu, 111

9 – Jalen Coleman-Lands, 103 b

10 – KJ Adams, 84

11 – Zach Clemence, 79 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

Reply 4 comments from Dirk Medema Robert  Brock Rodney Crain

KU’s top dog back on top after Big 12 tourney rout of West Virginia

Kansas guard Ochai Agbaji (30) delivers on a lob jam as the West Virginia players watch during the second half on Thursday, March 10, 2022 at T-Mobile Center in Kansas City.

Kansas guard Ochai Agbaji (30) delivers on a lob jam as the West Virginia players watch during the second half on Thursday, March 10, 2022 at T-Mobile Center in Kansas City. by Nick Krug

1 – Ochai Agbaji – There’ve been a host of other Jayhawks in the top spot during the past couple of weeks. But not on Thursday. KU’s best all-around player was back on tap after this one simply because of his approach to the game’s first few minutes. Agbaji attacked relentlessly right out of the gate during the Jayhawks’ 87-63 win over West Virginia in the opening round of the Big 12 tournament. And he did it again in the second half to squash a 7-0 WVU run that threatened to pull the Mountaineers back into it. Agbaji has seen a lot of different defenses and felt a wide range of emotions and pressure over the past month. He’s handled it all with a smile and the poise and character of a good teammate. But on Thursday he looked like a player who was immune to any of that mess. The better the team the tougher things will be, of course. But Agbaji got his swagger back on Thursday and he did it even while shooting just 1-of-6 from 3-point range on his way to 18 points.

2 – Christian Braun – If you don’t love the way Christian Braun rebounds, I don’t want to know about it. He might not always get 14 boards, but he did today. It was a new career-high and it was the result of a very intentional effort by Braun and his teammates to make sure they won the battle on the boards against a team known for its rebounding toughness. They did, 48-27. Braun also added 11 points to those 14 rebounds and looked so fast in transition all afternoon. KU really needed him to rediscover that attacking mindset he had in December, and there was signs of it returning today.

3 – Dajuan Harris Jr. – Take your pick from the best things Harris provided on Thursday — the 7 assists and 0 turnovers, the intense defensive pressure on the WVU guards or the breakaway dunk. All were indicative of how good he was in this one. And, because of the nature of the game, he, too, was able to get a bit of a break, playing just 25 minutes in the easy win. In many ways, this was the perfect blueprint for Harris’ contributions. He shot 6 times and made 3 of them — enough to be aggressive but not too many. His 7:0 assist-to-turnover ratio is off-the-charts good. And he even chipped in with 3 rebounds and 2 steals. The thing that continues to blow me away about Harris’ on-court performances is how even-keeled he looks every time out. You’ve got to love that in your point guard.

4 – Mitch Lightfoot – I wanted to put Mitch even higher. He deserved it. But it’s just so hard to justify putting him above any of the first three on this list. We bumped him above Jalen Wilson at the last minute because he almost matched Wilson’s stat line while committing zero turnovers compared to three by the KU starter. The reserve big man had a big game for Kansas on Thursday, scoring 10 points and grabbing 5 rebounds in 22 minutes off the bench. His highlights — 5-of-6 shooting and 5 blocks — allowed Self to play starting big man David McCormack just 10 minutes, which no doubt will help McCormack moving forward as he tries to manage some nagging injuries. Lightfoot was strong, decisive and confident in everything he did on Thursday. He wasn’t perfect by any means. But if he’s capable of delivering games like this the rest of the way — and make no mistake about it; he is against 90% of the teams in the country — he could play a huge role for KU on his way out the door.

5 – Jalen Wilson – When you consider that five of Wilson’s 15 points came off of the six technical foul free throws he got to shoot, his final line takes a little bit of a hit. But he was good early in going to the glass and hit a couple of key shots that helped KU maintain its more-than-comfortable lead. Kansas will need a bigger, more physical, more athletic effort from him against TCU. I’m thinking something that resembles the way he played last weekend at home against Texas. I was told that Jalen scored a whopping 26 energy points in that one, which tracks a number of different intangible stats, including how many times a player goes to the offensive glass. That number is nuts. One KU coach marveled to me about Agbaji scoring 11 in that game. And Jalen more than doubled that. He needs to score and hit open jumpers and be an offensive threat. But that energy stat is everything for him and what he means to this Kansas team.

6 – Jalen Coleman-Lands – I noticed something about Jalen’s day today that was pretty cool to see — Self absolutely loved it. He seemed to feel good about just about everything JCL did on the offensive end, from the shots he took (and didn’t take) to the way he moved and how he spaced the floor. Lots of praise coming from the bench to Coleman-Lands today after he shot 3-of-5 from the floor for 7 points in 10 minutes. That’s the role. It’s not too complicated. But it could be very important.

7 – David McCormack – McCormack wasn’t great when he was out there – he missed two bunnies, turned it over three times and fouled twice. But he was only out there 10 minutes, which both benefited him big time from a load management perspective and kept him from finding any kind of a groove. Didn’t matter. He wasn’t needed. He will be moving forward and he knows it. Nothing that happened — or didn’t happen — on Thursday changed any of that.

8 – Remy Martin – Remy had some rough moments on Thursday, but he also had two takes to the basket that made you stop and go, ‘Huh. Could he? Maybe? Huh.’ He looked jet-quick and as confident as he has looked in months. While that likely won’t mean more minutes on a regular basis, simply because the overall body of work continues to be a mixed bag, it could give Kansas — and Remy — confidence if the Jayhawks need him at any point in the next few weeks. Eventually, the season will be over, Martin’s time at Kansas will be through and we’ll stop beating this dead horse and analyzing this topic to death. But because Martin’s potential — in the good moments — is still so high, you can’t help but wonder if he’s going to help this Kansas team before it’s all said and done. If he doesn’t, big whoop. If he does, well then…

9 – Zach Clemence – We’ll give Clemence the top billing of the final three here for two reasons — first, that nifty reverse layup where he really showed off his athleticism; and, second, trying so hard to get the ball to Conner Teahan for the 3-pointer he buried late in the game. That’s good-teammate stuff right there. And Clemence, who played a few valuable minutes in the first half on Thursday, has a lot of that in him. He finished with just the 2 points in this one but added 3 rebounds, 2 assists and a block in 7 minutes. Like most of KU’s deep reserves, he continues to show that he is able to stay ready whether he thinks he’ll be playing or not.

10 – Joe Yesufu – Made just 1-of-4 shots and turned it over once, but he hit the glass hard, played 17 minutes and is the type of player whose effort you never have to question. Whether he executes or produces is up in the air on most nights. But if he doesn’t, it won’t be because he wasn’t giving great effort. I still don’t think we’ve seen the best of Yesufu from a defensive perspective yet. He might well still get a chance to show it, too.

11 – KJ Adams – Dished 2 assists while operating as some type of point forward in the game’s final minutes. And he looked good doing it. On this team, that will never be required or asked for. But it was cool to see it and it speaks to the bright future that Adams has, with all of that athleticism he possesses.

Season standings

1 – Ochai Agbaji, 289 +

2 – Christian Braun, 270

3 – Dajuan Harris Jr., 244

4 – Jalen Wilson, 222 •

5 – David McCormack, 187

6 – Mitch Lightfoot, 156

7 – Remy Martin, 136 z

8 – Joseph Yesufu, 106

9 – Jalen Coleman-Lands, 100 b

10 – KJ Adams, 82

11 – Zach Clemence, 78 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

Reply 2 comments from Koolkeithfreeze Robert  Brock

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

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

Reply 13 comments from Lee Short Rodney Crain Dirk Medema Robert  Brock Cassadys Koolkeithfreeze Surrealku

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