Davidson Takes Down Kansas

Kansas dropped its third game of the seaso as they lost to the 6-3 Davidson Wildcats, 80-74, at the Sprint Center on Monday night.

The tone of the game was set early as the Jayhawks fell behind early in the first two minutes, 7-0. The Sprint Center crowd didn’t do a good job getting pumped up and considering Kansas came off a eight-day break from action (finals week) and two back-to-back wins against good teams (Long Beach State and Ohio State), it didn’t look good for Kansas early.

Travis Releford looked like the only player who was awake for Kansas in the first 10 minutes of the game. And as much as I like Releford, that’s just not good.

With 7:15 left in the first half, Davidson went up by 11-points, which was their biggest margin of the game. Kansas did come storming back with a 13-0 run to make it a close game at halftime.

And then things turned for Davidson. In the first half, Davidson had 12 turnovers (the Jayhawks had nine). Considering Davidson averages 13.4 turnovers per game, this was shocking. However, in the second half, the Wildcats didn’t turn it over at all.

This was one of Kansas’ problems in the game as they had gotten 12 points off Davidson turnovers in the first half and couldn’t continue the same pressure they had in the first half. For some reason, Self stopped his full-court press, which had forced Davidson into some really sloppy mistakes, including dribbling the basketball off their feet.

But Kansas’ biggest problem was three-point and free-throw shooting. Kansas was just 6-for-23 (26.1%) from beyond the arc and 18-for-31 (58.1%) from the charity stripe.

For some reason, Kansas refused to get the ball into Thomas Robinson in the post. Davidson’ De’mon Brooks, their best scorer, played only 22 minutes because of foul trouble (he fouled out). Jake Cohen, their best shot-blocker, played 22 minutes because of foul trouble (four fouls). Kansas kept jacking up three-pointers, which did them in.

What was even more shocking was that Jeff Withey played 16 minutes. Withey, who has been very consistent for Kansas, was a bad match-up for the Wildcats’ small lineup . If Withey and Robinson can’t play at the same time against an undersized team like Davidson, they need to work on a zone-defense, because Withey is too important for this team.

Overall, I don’t think tonight affects Kansas that much in the sense of Big 12 play. I think they can still win the league because Missouri and Baylor aren’t as battle-tested as Kansas is because of their weak schedule. Missouri can pose a matchup problem for Kansas but I think Self can out-coach Frank Haith pretty easily. If the Jayhawks made more three-pointers or made free throws, they win this game. Kansas was poised during their 13-0 run and that was a positive. Tyshawn Taylor played 33 minutes just barely a week after his surgery and played relatively well, despite a few not surprising turnovers.

My biggest concern for Kansas is the guard position. Tharpe, again, didn’t have an impact in the game and only played three minutes. Conner Teahan played 26 minutes and jacked up eight threes (made only two), which is just not good. If he isn’t hitting his threes, he’s pointless for this team as he can’t guard a Division-1 athlete.

That’s not a knock on Teahan because it isn’t his fault because he’s not a Division-1 player and he’s giving his best effort. However, if Teahan has to play 26 minutes for Kansas in a tight game, that’s bad news. Teahan should not be playing more minutes than Jeff Withey (who had only one personal foul).

As outlined in my preview of the Davidson game, Kansas was able to get the Wildcats’ bigs into foul trouble, which was huge. But Kansas again played down to their opponent.

This quote from Self sums up it all (I added some emphasis to prove my point):

“We need to be mentally sharp every night we play. There’s not as much margin for error (this year). We weren’t sharp. This team is not mature enough to understand we have to play really well to beat the teams that maybe they (KU players) don’t think are our equals, which is total crap. This (Davidson) team was our equal. We knew it coming in, and they played like it tonight.

“This is what the reality check is … we’ve got to be really focused, play really hard and play really smart and play to our strengths to have a chance to beat anybody on our schedule.”

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