“Overrated. Overrated. Overrated” was how the TCU student section celebrated the closing minutes of TCU’s huge upset win of number 5 ranked Kansas Jayhawks on Wednesday, February 7, 2013. What was suppose to be a Kansas redemption victory from a loss last Saturday against OSU came a nightmare performance and worst case scenario from the Jayhawks. A slew of statistical lows were reset for the Hawks as they had no rhythm on offense.
- Kansas scored only 13 first half points, the fewest ever by a Jayhawk team in the Big 12 era.
- Kansas suffered back-to-back losses for the first time since 2006.
- Kansas is now tied with Kansas State for the Big 12 lead.
- Kansas allowed TCU to obtain their first ever Big 12 win.
- Kansas lost to a TCU team that was 0-8 in the Big 12.
- Kansas follows the OSU loss that snapped an 18 game winning streak and 33 game homecourt winning streak with a loss to TCU.
- Kansas shot just 29.5% from the floor.
- Kansas shot just 13.6% from three point range.
This has to be one of the lowest points in the Bill Self Jayhawk era. Self even mentioned in post-game sound bites that this had to be the worst Kansas team to hit the floor since James Naismith era teams lost to Topeka YMCA.
The cheese is sliding off of the cracker. Self needs to find ways to plug holes, and fast if he intends on winning the Big 12 and having a good seed for the NCAA tournament.
Don’t be confused, TCU had a game plan and it was ugly. They shot 39.1% from the floor, but interrupted an already meager KU offense. They played man to man, zone and anything to disrupt guard play and create turnovers. Jeff Withey was ineffective on offense as stronger post players from TCU manhandled him with his higher center of gravity. Elijah Johnson and company could not find the bucket with errant shots. Travis Releford couldn’t even contribute on offense. It was just ugly.
On defense, TCU sent big men to the three point and outer areas to lure Withey away from the bucket to allow faster guards to drive and score without repercussions of Withey blocks. TCU was not good on offense, but they were good enough.
The real problem with this Kansas team is the lack of apparent leadership on the floor. Ben McLemore can score, Withey can score in the paint and attract fouls, Releford can manufacture points when needed, but there’s a lack of cohesion in it all. At least there was in the last two games. Elijah Johnson is a good guard, but he is out of position being the point. He is better off of the ball and off the pass. He needs to be set up for three pointers and found on the corners to drive for buckets. Naadir Tharpe found himself handling the ball more and shooting, but shooting miserably. Naadir appears to have more of the point guard instincts that Johnson may be lacking, however, he lacks the ability to close the shot. He gets great drives to the bucket, but isn’t polished enough to make an awkward shot. Both Johnson and Tharpe have trouble finding the good passes and playing smart with the ball. Johnson has had a rash of bad turnovers in key moments that have been masked in the past by Kansas shooting their way out of it. McLemore isn’t going to be able to shoot three pointers to save the day.
In the end, Johnson and Tharpe are the only choices Bill Self has to lead this team. Johnson needs to toughen up, hold his head high in bad times and play through it. Too many times has he been shown on games hunched over, looking dejected and broken. Tharpe is not ready for the full time point position. Self needs to get back to basics. He needs to pound the paint, play tough defense and create open three pointers for McLemore and keep him engaged in the entire game.
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