A year ago, the Kansas Jayhawks dropped their annual game in Kansas City’s Sprint Center to Davidson. Friday night, the Jayhawks avoided another upset, this time at the hand of Oregon State. Thanks to some late free throw shooting and some acrobatics from Ben McLemore, Kansas held on for an 84-78 victory that improves them to 6-1.
The Beavers were pesky though, twice cutting double-digit Kansas leads to single digits, getting as close as three late in the game.
Kansas would have most certainly lost if not for Travis Releford, who scored 20 points and collected seven rebounds, including 16 points in the second half when both Ben McLemore and Elijah Johnson were on the bench in foul trouble.
“Coach challenged me at halftime. He challenged all the guards saying how we hadn’t been attacking the paint, stuff we’d been working on the past week,” Releford said. “I noticed that, so I figured I should probably put pressure on the defense to help the team. It opened up for me.”
McLemore chipped in during the first half, scoring 15 of his 21 points, including a dunk that may have been the highlight of the year, as he soared to the rim making many think back the great dunkers of the 1970s and 80s.
Still, the Beavers kept clawing, aided by guard Ahmad Starks, who scored 25 points, including seven threes. Regardless of what Kansas did defensively, they couldn’t contain Starks, who was poised to upset the 10th ranked Jayhawks.
“It all comes down to this. They guard the guy with the ball better than we guard their guy with the ball. We couldn’t guard No. 3 period,” Self said.
Self also went on to say that Kansas may look at other styles of defense, possibly including switching to a zone.
They’ll now embark on an eight-day break before hosting Colorado in Lawrence, December 8th. The long break will provide some rest, but also many opportunities to practice and improve. Still, count Self as one who takes the long break with a grain of salt.
“Yeah, we need to practice without question, but I don’t know if I like a full week, but it is what it is, so I’m happy we got a full week,” Self said.