The Kansas Jayhawks (10-4) really never looked seriously threatened Wednesday night by the Oklahoma Sooners (12-3) in their 90-83 victory in Norman. That isn’t to say it was a blow out. Kansas was never able to pull away, but they were able to maintain a comfortable 6-10 point lead for most of the contest.
The most unfathomable thing about this game is that these two coaches, Bill Self for Kansas, and and former Kansas State star and coach Lon Kruger, could each put teams on the court that are so devoid of the knowledge and understanding of how to play defense. These have to be the worst defensive teams either coach has ever produced in their illustrious careers.
The two teams shot a combined 50% from the field as shooters were left wide open, defenders couldn’t hinder drives to the basket without fouling, players couldn’t guard the ball straight up. Frankly, these two coaches should be embarrassed at how badly their teams defend. There were 46 total fouls called in this game, and it wasn’t from bad officiating.
The Jayhawks’ offense was much improved over Sunday’s effort against San Diego State, but it is so hard to judge because the defense was so bad. Kansas shot 54.7% from the field, including 8-16 from three, and 80% from the free throw line.
There were some very nice things about this game, though. Wayne Selden showed, really for the first time, just why he was such a highly sought after recruit. He scored 24 points to lead the Jayhawks, including hitting 5 three-pointers in 10 attempts. He also had 2 rebounds, an assist, a steal, and a blocked shot. Perry Ellis added 22 points, and Naadir Tharpe scored 17 on the night.
Ellis also pulled in 11 rebounds for a double-double, and Tharpe had 3 assists to pace Kansas on a weak assist night for the team as a whole. Conner Frankamp, who has played very sparingly this season through the tough non conference schedule, contributed 5 points, 2 rebounds, and 2 assists off the bench, mostly in the first half when Tharpe was in foul trouble. It was nice to see Self able to dig a little deeper into that bench when necessary.
It was so encouraging to see Selden finally produce some results. The negatives have outweighed the positives for him thus far in the season. To be honest, he didn’t really deserve to be starting but Self obviously didn’t think he had a better option at that spot, which is a little frightening in itself.
Still, if Selden is going to take a step forward in production, now is as good a time as any. If he can play (offensively anyway) even as close to his performance last night, it will help this team continue to get better.
A fine offensive Oklahoma team was led by Cameron Clark, who was evidently impossible to defend, as he lit up the Jayhawks for 32 points. He was supported by Buddy Hield, who netted 18. Tyler Neal added 11 from the bench. The only other Sooner in double figures was Jordan Woodard, who scored 10 points by going 0-5 from the field, and 10 for 10 from the line.
After being embarrassed by San Diego State on the back boards the last time out, the Jayhawks re established themselves in this outing. They out rebounded the Sooners 36 to 22. If it weren’t for Hield’s 8 caroms, it would have been a sad, sad night for the Sooners on the glass.
Kansas didn’t do a great job protecting the basketball with 14 turnovers, which is about their team average. It was pretty much a team effort on the turnovers as 7 different had 3 or fewer. Of the guys who played double digit minutes, Conner Frankamp and Perry Ellis were the only ones to not turn the ball over.
Bill Self has got to find a way to make these kids care about playing defense. They just don’t get it. There is so little intensity. No fire or desire. There isn’t one player that is close to being a shut down defender. It is just hard to believe that after three full months of practice, this is the best the defense can be.
Kansas returns home on Saturday to face the red hot Kansas State Wildcats. at one o’clock (CST). The Wildcats have won 10 in a row, including their first 2 Big 12 match ups. They have beaten Gonzaga and Oklahoma State recently, and they are the co-defending Big 12 champions. This one should be fun!