The anticipated Sunflower Showdown between the Kansas Jayhawks (11-4, 2-0) and the red hot Kansas State Wildcats (12-4, 2-1) turned out to be very anti climatic. Kansas was in control the whole game, and was never really threatened by Kansas State. The loss ended the Wildcats’ 10-game winning streak.
The Jayhawks played maybe their best all around ball in the first half en route to 45-28 lead at intermission. Kansas did not turn the ball over at all the first 20 minutes, and they played as well on defense as they have all season. For the first time since the Duke game early in the season, Kansas played with fire and desire on both ends of the court.
Kansas was led in scoring by a couple of freshmen. Andrew Wiggins knocked down 22 points, and Wayne Selden, Jr tossed in 20. The two youngsters combined to make 6 of 9 three-points attempts. Perry Ellis, 12, and Joel Embiid, 11, also scored in double figures. Kansas hit 56.1 % of their field goal attempts.
Embiid led the team in rebounds with 9, and Naadir Tharpe topped the team with 9 assists and zero turnovers. As a team, the Jayhawks recorded 20 assists (on 32 made field goals) and only 7 turnovers, all of which were committed in the second half.
Nino Williams paced the Wildcats with 12 points off the bench, hitting 4 of his 5 field goal attempts. Thomas Gipson was the only other Wildcat in double figures with 11, on 5 of 7 shooting. As a team, Kansas State hit just 44% of their field goal attempts, but the team only converted 34.2% outside of Williams and Gipson. The Wildcats hit just 1 of their 11 shots behind the arc.
Marcus Foster led the team in rebounds with 5, and assists with 3 while scoring 7 points. The Wildcats were out rebounded 33-25, and they only recorded 6 assists to 10 turnovers in the contest.
Wiggins had a great stretch early in the second half where he scored 12 points out of 14 for the Jayhawks. He hit a couple of 3-pointers, and finished off the run with a steal and thunderous dunk.
The heralded frosh also used his length and athleticism to help shut down Foster for most of the game. Foster only his 3 of his 12 field goals.
Kansas played really well the first 30 minutes of the game, but things got rough and chippy late. Joel Embiid was a charged with a flagrant 2 foul, which includes ejection, for blatant contact to the face of Nino Williams.
The replay showed that it is an easy call for the officials, and Bill Self could be seen verbally reprimanding Embiid before the officials even went to the monitors to verify. It was pretty obvious.
This wasn’t the only rough play late. Several players showed indications of being shaken up due to rough contact. The referees did a good job of calling everything down the stretch to keep things from getting out of hand.
The blow out nature of the game, plus the chippy physical play that marred the last several minutes should have given Head Coach Bill Self a chance to get his bench some nice minutes. Self should have benched his starters with about 7 minutes to go, with the game well in hand. Instead, he chose to stick with his core 8 guys until the last minute and a half of the contest.
There was little reason to keep playing the starters as the game devolved into ugliness the last 7 or 8 minutes. Landen Lucas, Brannen Greene, Conner Frankamp, and Andrew White III all could have benefited for the extended playing time. Maybe Self left his main guys in the game to help toughen them up but there seemed to be little to be gained by that strategy.
Kansas has to turn right around and face the Iowa State Cyclones in Ames on for Big Monday. The Cyclones were upset on the road by the Oklahoma Sooners, and DeAndre Kane, maybe their best all around player, was injured late, and there is no word about his status for this big game against Kansas.
Kansas State will host Oklahoma Tuesday night, and will try to bounce back with a win at home.