Kansas scored 20 of the first 25 points in their first matchup with old Big XII rival Colorado since their departure to the Pac-12 on their way to a 90-54 win, handing the Buffaloes their second loss of the season.
With a week between games, Kansas came out with high energy in Allen Fieldhouse, causing turnovers and hitting their shots. The Jayhawk defense forced six turnovers in the first five minutes while only allowing two shot attempts during that stretch.
Kansas coach Bill Self has said that he wanted to b a lot quicker on offense and the turnovers allowed them to get out and run a little, but they were also using a secondary break after made baskets. Colorado started out with a quick pace, too, so that kept the tempo where Kansas wanted it. Kansas hit 54.8% of their shot attempts and held Colorado to 37% while outrebounding them 37-28.
The KU front line was strong, getting 16 points from Kevin Young (who added eight rebounds) and another seven rebounds and five blocks from center Jeff Withey. In the early stages of the game, Withey made three shots in the first six minutes as KU got their offense in gear and didn’t need to be involved much offensively in the second half.
Ben McLemore led all scorers with 24 points, though he only hit 6 of 16 from the floor. Three of those were jumpers and two came from three point range, but McLemore hit 10 of 11 from the free throw line and one came after a jumper where he was knocked to the ground but made the shot before finishing the three-point play. He’s looking comfortable creating plays and being more aggressive, which led to him getting opportunities for points even on a night where he wasn’t hitting from the floor most of the time. He’s hit only 45.7% of his shots, but when he gets to the line, he’s shooting 86.1% and leads the team with 16 points per game.
The Jayhawks seem to have settled into a rotation now, which was in question before. The four spot, which seemed to be a toss up between freshmen Perry Ellis and Jamari Traylor and junior Kevin Young has turned into Young’s starting job. Ellis and Traylor played 17 and 11 minutes each on Saturday and Young played 20 and has started each of the last five games. Traylor fouled out in his time and Ellis only scored one field goal.
Naadir Tharpe handled most of the point guard time off the bench, which has been the pattern usually. Tharpe, Traylor and Ellis were the only reserves who played more than ten minutes. With the game out of comeback range, the walk-ons and deeper bench options were used more, but the typical eight man rotation has been consistent with those three as the main options off the bench, though Andrew White scored eight points, including two three-pointers. As long as Kevin Young looks comfortable and stays productive, I don’t see him being supplanted as the starter at forward.
With finals this week, Kansas will have another week off but face Belmont at home on Saturday the 15th at 6 p.m. CST.