Jayhawks clip Harvard in Allen Fieldhouse

Last game against Loyola, free throw woes plagued Kansas as it shot 12/26 (46%) from the line. That trend continued against Harvard and almost cost KU the game, as the Jayhawks shot just 13/25 (52%) from the charity stripe in a narrow 75-69 win.

Throughout the first half, rebounding was a huge problem for Kansas, as it was out-rebounded by Harvard, 21-12. That advantage would carry over the rest of the game as the Crimson ended with a 39-31 rebounding advantage.

Landen Lucas (24 minutes) played the most out of the four-man logjam at the center position. Kansas’ best rebounder, Cheick Diallo, logged just seven minutes.

Considering that the Crimson entered Saturday’s game with a 2-5 record, it appeared that Saturday had potential to be a one-sided contest. With just under seven minutes until intermission, Kansas was doubling up Harvard, 32-16, and appeared to be on its way to another blowout victory. However, the Jayhawks made just one field goal over the final 5:59 as they saw their lead closed to nine, 38-29.

The second half was much more nerve-wracking. Harvard slashed Kansas’ lead to 48-45 with just under 13 minutes remaining. Anxiety and nervousness crept in the 16,300 souls seated inside Allen Fieldhouse. After scoring his team’s first five points, Perry Ellis was a nonfactor. Frank Mason and Devonte’ Graham were left to carry the team, and Wayne Selden was in foul trouble.

By the time Harvard tied the game at 56 with 7:36 remaining, Kansas couldn’t seem to grab a rebound, no matter who Self put in. The biggest problem was finishing at the rim. It was a disaster within three feet of the basket, and even when they got fouled, nobody could make a free throw. The Jayhawks seemed to forget that they could shoot threes. It looked like perfect conditions for an upset.

With the score deadlocked at 56, Ellis sparked a quick five-point run for Kansas, and they Jayhawks wouldn’t trail again. Graham and Mason drained consecutive threese to give the Jayhawks some cushion, and after actually making a few free throws down the stretch, Kansas escaped with a narrow win.

Kansas squeaked out its 27th consecutive victory in Allen Fieldhouse. It wasn’t very pretty, but it found a way.

Notes:

  • Mason: game-high 21 points (7/11 FG), five assists, four steals, and three rebounds. He played a game-high 38 minutes.
  • Graham: 12 points (5/12 FG), three assists, and three steals. The point-guard duo for Kansas was lethal down the stretch, scoring 14 of the team’s final 16 points.
  • Selden: nine points (3/4 FG) and four assists, but just 22 minutes. He was constantly in foul trouble, which explains the first time all year he’s been held to single-digit points.
  • Ellis: 12 points (5/11 FG), four rebounds in 27 minutes. He struggled and infuriated Bill Self with his “lack of passion,” but he’ll be fine in the long run.
  • Lucas: five points and a team-high eight rebounds in 24 minutes. Arguably the MVP of the game for Kansas.
  • Traylor: three points in 10 minutes. Ties for the fewest minutes he’s played in two calendar years.
  • Diallo: four points in seven minutes. He needs to play more and I don’t think any KU fan will argue with that.
  • Bragg: two points in nine minutes. He also needs to play considerably more.
  • Mickelson: two minutes at the beginning of the game, and nothing after that. Bizarre.
  • Svi: seven points (3/9 FG) in 25 minutes. Not his best shooting percentage, but I’m perfectly fine with him taking nine shots.
  • Traylor still appears to be at his best when used as an energy guy in short minutes off the bench. Why Traylor is starting over Diallo or Mickelson becomes harder to answer as he plays like the worst big on the roster.
  • Kansas shot 43% (6/14) from three. It’s the biggest strength for this team.
  • The biggest weakness? 52% (13/25) from the free throw line.
  • Kansas made 48% of its field goals, but was out-rebounded by eight by the Crimson. It did collect 11 steals and 17 assists.
  • Up next: Holy Cross on Wednesday in Allen Fieldhouse.

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Dylan King

Staff writer for Rock Chalk Blog. http://twitter.com/_DK22