The Kansas Jayhawks (22-7, 13-3) had to know it was going to be tough to beat a fired up Oklahoma State Cowboys (19-10, 7-9) unit Saturday night. Their lack of focus and total disregard for the importance of possessions was disappointing to say the least.
The Jayhawks, who were already assured of a share of the Big 12 regular season championship since Monday, backed into the outright title due to losses to the teams that started the week tied for second. Still, they should have played better.
Kansas committed 11 turnovers in each half of the 72-65 loss. Most were silly, inattentive turnovers, caused by a total lack of focus. Still, Kansas was in the driver’s seat for 30 minutes or so. They were crushed, 30-13, over the later stages of the contest.
In our three keys to the game, we mentioned the Cowboys were in a must win situation, and that Kansas would need to be ready. We also mentioned four player needed to step up – Naadir Tharpe, Perry Ellis, Andrew Wiggins, and Joel Embiid. Of these four, only Embiid played well, and he re-injured his back late in the game.
Tharpe and Wiggins in particular, were not good. They combined to shoot 7-24 from the field for 29.2% and they each had 6 (SIX!!!) turnovers. They combined for 2 more turnovers than the entire Oklahoma State team. TAKE CARE OF THE BASKETBALL!!!
At one point late in the half, Tharpe moved to the wing, and was so inattentive, a pass hit him in the face because he was not looking. It was utterly and totally ridiculous.
While Wiggins had 7 rebounds (5 solid offensive boards), and Tharpe dished out 5 assists, their poor shooting and massive turnover numbers were extremely negative. They each played too many minutes in this one for as badly as they were performing.
Ellis wasn’t terrible, with 11 points and 8 rebounds, but he had 3 turnovers. If he could produce that scoring and rebounding line, with 2 fewer cough ups, Kansas would probably be happy with that. Embiid had a nice game, tallying 13 points, 13 rebounds on the night.
One of the most frustrating things about this team, besides the turnovers, and inconsistent defensive play, is how weak they are finishing off baskets against physical teams. They are getting better and better at driving to be basket, but if they get bumped a little, foul or no, they struggle to put the ball in the hole in traffic.
If they are going to continue to drive to the hoop, as they should given their poor outside shooting at times, they must be stronger finishers at the rim.
To be quite frank, and understand I am not blaming the players here – the system is broken – but Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid are not ready for the NBA. They are going to be drafted, and probably in the top 5, if not higher. They both lack the rugged strength they are going to need in the NBA. Both would be better served staying in school another year, gaining strength, and polishing their overall games.
This isn’t going to happen. There is too much money involved for these kids to look the other way. Who can blame them? But they will be better pros in the long run with another year in college under their belts.
The Kansas Jayhawks pretty much ended their hopes of a number one seed with last night’s loss. To be honest, they aren’t one of the best four teams in the country. They could be, and they have the talent to win it all, but they are too inconsistent on defense, and have too many games where the turnovers are a huge issue for them.
On a positive note, the Kansas Jayhawks did just absolutely dominate the backboards against the Cowboys. Kansas reeled in 42 caroms to just 24 for Oklahoma State. There is your silver lining. That is a terrific number against a very good team.