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Archive for Saturday, January 19, 2013

Opinion: It’s time to embrace this team’s ugly way of winning

Kansas guard Travis Releford celebrates as time expires in the Jayhawks' 64-59 comeback win against Texas on Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013 at Frank Erwin Center in Austin, Texas.

Kansas guard Travis Releford celebrates as time expires in the Jayhawks' 64-59 comeback win against Texas on Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013 at Frank Erwin Center in Austin, Texas.

January 19, 2013

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Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

KU coach Bill Self talks after win over Texas

Kansas coach Bill Self talks after his team's 64-59 victory over Texas on Jan. 19, 2013.

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

Jeff Withey and Ben McLemore

Kansas players Jeff Withey and Ben McLemore talk after the Jayhawks' 64-59 victory over Texas on Jan. 19, 2013.

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

Texas coach Rick Barnes

Texas coach Rick Barnes talks to reporters following his team's 64-59 loss to Kansas on Jan. 19, 2013.

Box score

KU-Texas

— Do your blood pressure a favor. Enjoy the way Kansas finishes games and trust that in time your favorite basketball doctor, 10th-year coach Bill Self, will figure out a way to remove all the hideous warts you have to see leading up to the pleasant part.

The formula of winning ugly and finishing pretty doesn’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon, so you might as well get used to it.

In too-typical fashion, Kansas had to overcome a particularly long shooting slump Saturday in order to remain unbeaten in Big 12 play and extend its winning streak to 15 with a 64-59 victory against Texas.

For the fourth time in five games — Temple and Iowa State at home, Texas Tech and the Longhorns on the road — KU had trouble scoring and needed a strong finish for the victory.

Against Tech the strong finish lasted the entire second half. It didn’t kick in until much later in the Erwin Center.

Trailing by 11 points with less than 15 minutes left, by 10 points with less than 12 minutes remaining and by six with less than six left, Kansas transformed itself back into the experienced basketball team it is and finished on an 8-2 run in the final 2:18.

Somehow, no Texas lead felt safe because the young Longhorns have been blowing leads all season and Kansas knows how to win ugly and finish pretty. It’s a dangerous means of winning, but an entertaining one, warts and all.

Shaky point-guard play — at one point, Elijah Johnson and Naadir Tharpe were a combined 0-for-11 with one turnover and four assists — played the biggest part in KU’s sluggish offense.

Things turned when Self went with Tharpe, Johnson, Ben McLemore, Travis Releford and Jeff Withey for the final several minutes.

Until then, Kansas in general and Johnson in particular, couldn’t get shots to drop. Was it the defense or the shooting?

“Me personally or the team?” asked Johnson, who made one of 11 shots.

Both.

“I don’t want to talk about me personally,” Johnson said. “It’s irrelevant, but I give them respect because they play some defense, they play some good defense. I honestly say that’s the best defense we’ve gone against all year. And they never really let up. And their bench players came in and gave them some good minutes. I respect them for it. They made it tough for us.”

Johnson did get around to talking about his poor shooting day. He attributed having so many scoring opportunities close to the hoop to the Texas defense paying so much attention to center Jeff Withey.

“I took 11 layups today,” Johnson said. “Didn’t make nothing but one.”

It sounded unbelievable to him too. The strong team finish made the ugly statistic one that doesn’t matter in the standings.

“I think we dealt with the pressure well,” Johnson said of the late stages. “They had us rattled for one or two possessions maybe, but I think we took care of that by just calming our team down and just doing what we do. We’ve been in this situation too many times.”

Even when Texas’ lead grew to 11 points after a 12-0 run that lasted 2:20 early in the second half, it never felt as if the home team was going to win this one. It certainly didn’t ever feel that way to Johnson.

“No, I never think that until zeroes are on the clock, and even then I still won’t believe it,” Johnson said. “I feel like you can’t have that mindset and try to be a competitor.”

If Kansas can figure out how to compete as well for 40 minutes as it does at the end, the close calls will become less common, but for now, winning ugly beats losing pretty.

Comments

riverdrifter 1 year, 11 months ago

Elijah 1 -11 from the field with 6 points, 3 turnovers and 2 lousy assists. I mean, why did he even get on the plane? His head is currently buried so deep that he couldn't hear a tornado siren go off if he was standing on it. Might be time to get somebody else in there. I trust in Bill Self and his staff, though!

windjammer 1 year, 11 months ago

If you trust Coach Self so much way would you make all those those derogatory remarks about Elijah. We are 16-1 and Elijah had alot to do with that. Get a life they are young men and they do make mistakes on the floor.

riverdrifter 1 year, 11 months ago

EJ is a senior and these are NOT just a few 'mistakes'. It's wire-to-wire overall poor play. I'm not scape-goating him. It is what it is.

Cant_have_it_both_ways 1 year, 11 months ago

POLL: What kind of happy pills do you take before you watch the game?

Tom Wilson 1 year, 11 months ago

So the Jayhawks were in a "shooting slump". I was in a different kind of slump near the end of the game. Quite frankly, I simply cannot afford the alcohol it is taking to get me to the end of these games! Is it possible to have a "run-away" game every once in a while? A "romp" at KSU would be nice. If I was given the opportunity to choose only one game that the Jayhawks would win all year, regardless of who was on the schedule, it would be beating Texas in Austin. But why so close?????

lvlndhawk 1 year, 11 months ago

The starters all shot at least 50 percent except for Elijah, who was 1 for 13. Couple that with terrible passing, inability to push the ball up the court and you understand the major problem the Hawks are having.

big_john 1 year, 11 months ago

The last three games it appears Jeff Withey seems to be in a funk. He is one heck of a shot blocker but seems to be watching the game instead of defending. I've watched him let players drive by him and never offer to guard them nor try to block their shots. Several times never making an effort to cover his man in the corner. Maybe its just because to whole team seems to be in a slump now. Hope they get it together before long. I think they will be fantastic in march.

Gregory Newman 1 year, 11 months ago

the problem is that you have 5 coaches that played guard and neither has a clue about the mid-range game. EJ is a very fast guard the problem is that he is tentative or uncertain on how to have fun playing basketball. He thinks he's a 3 point specialist. If he would just bend his knees and not his back and punch on the gas with a 3 or 5 or 7 step drive stop and pop jumpers that gives him the 7-12 ft uncontested mid-range shot and this includes all the guards. Thorpe does it ever so often but not near enough. Mac has it down and if REL would do it often he would be unstopable. There is no rule that says one has to force a drive that is not there then end up looking stupid by throwing a desperation pass away into the stands. This is the only way that frees up Withey. Self needs to get off his high horse and take into account that there is coaching coming from the opposite bench and quit blaming the players for everything. He has the pieces to win the Ncees

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