"You look at the difference in the game and it was the sixth, seventh and eighth man going 14-of-17 from the field," remarked Kansas head coach Bill Self. "I don't think there are a lot of teams that have that luxury."
Offensively Kansas blew their averages for efficiency (117.4) and effective field goal percentage (58.8%) out of the water, finishing with numbers of 145.1 and 69.7% respectively. Missouri didn't bring the pressure that many expect them to bring, and a reason for that many have been exposed in how the Jayhawks dealt with the Tigers' zone defense. Coach Self has one of the most unselfish teams in America, a group more than willing to make the extra pass and that trait served them well on Monday night. Kansas made good use of the high post in those situations, either kicking the ball back out or swinging opposite to find open shooters such as Releford, Brady Morningstar (who also had seven assists and no turnovers) and Tyrel Reed.
"I really like our unselfishness and guys are really starting to find their roles," said Coach Self. "Look at what Brady has done the last two weeks. He can make a shot or he can be a ball mover and he's given other guys a chance to make plays." (quotes courtesy of Kansas Athletics)
Another problem for Missouri was their lack of rebounding, something that's plagued the Tigers in nearly every game they've played this season against bigger opponents. Kansas out-rebounded Missouri 38-21, grabbing 14 on the offensive end and scoring 19 second-chance points. While March is generally accepted as a time where matchups make all the difference Missouri is looking like a team that could be in trouble early if they run into a squad that can attack the glass. Kansas on the other hand looked like a well-oiled machine on Monday night and that was without the services of guard Josh Selby, who likely returns from his injury on Saturday against Iowa State. If they can continue to build on this chemistry as the season rolls on Kansas will be more than capable of leaving Houston with the nets.
Other Notable Happenings
1. Travon Woodall (and Pittsburgh) will be just fine without Ashton Gibbs.
Some were concerned about the fact that the Panthers would be without the services of their leading scorer for the next two weeks, but that wouldn't include the Panthers themselves. Travon Woodall played well, accounting for 12 points and three assists while three other starters reached double figures in the 71-66 win at West Virginia. While the loss of Gibbs has an impact from beyond the arc (1-for-6 last night) Pitt has the ability to work the ball inside, with Nasir Robinson scoring a team-high 15 points and Gary McGhee adding 13. And Dante Taylor was solid off the bench with five points and six rebounds in 16 minutes of action. If anything was learned about Jamie Dixon's team on Monday it should be that this is a tough group that finds ways to win. Take away their leading scorer and others will step up, meaning that there's little reason to panic in the Steel City.
2. Wyoming fires Heath Schroyer. But is it an attractive job?
Wyoming pulled the plug on the Heath Schroyer "experience" on Monday (first reported by "Sports By Brooks"), firing Schroyer thanks to a 49-68 overall record and 8-15 (1-8 Mountain West) this season. The Cowboys have dealt with a number of injuries this season, most notably forward Afam Muojeke, but the question of who takes this job needs to be raised. By most accounts the school never really opened the checkbook for coaches, something that can be an issue when trying to draw in the top candidates. Schroyer's job was to clean up a program that had its share of off-court problems during the Steve McClain era, but that can only get you so far when the team isn't winning games (see: Roberts, Norm). So where does Wyoming from here? Associate head coach Fred Langley will run the show on an interim basis for the remainder of the season, and while some fans are pushing for Wyoming great Marcus Davis to get the job it remains to be seen which direction the administration chooses to go.
3. Mississippi State suspends Ravern Johnson indefinitely.
The senior forward, who averages a team-best 17.7 points per game, went from being suspended for Saturday's win over LSU due to "inappropriate tweets" to being suspended indefinitely by head coach Rick Stansbury. Coach Stansbury did note that there was also the issue of violating the school's class attendance policy in regards to this move, but one has to wonder if the many distractions that have popped up this season sabotaged the campaign. Before the season even began there was the remaining nine games of the Renardo Sidney suspension and Dee Bost's issues in regards to the NBA Draft and academic. Add in the fight between Sidney and former Bulldog Elgin Bailey, along with this team's inability to fully comprehend the effects of social media and you've got a season better suited for MTV than a sports network. Expected to be the class of a weak SEC West before the season began, Mississippi State may be in "what's next" mode in regards to distractions.
Top Three Games
1. Maryland-Eastern Shore 83, North Carolina A&T 82 A pair of Hillary Haley free throws with three seconds remaining proved to be the difference. Haley scored a game-high 28 while Thomas Coleman led North Carolina A&T with 20.
2. (4) Pittsburgh 71, West Virginia 66
3. Detroit 81, Cleveland State 78 NIck Minnerath's career high of 26 points led the way for the Titans, who knocked off Cleveland State at Calihan Hall. Aaron Pogue and Jeremy Montgomery led the Vikings with 15 apiece.
Three Notable Performances
1. F Ryan Rossiter (Siena) 23 points, 20 rebounds and five assists in the Saints' 76-69 loss to Loyola (MD).
2. G Markeith Cummings (Kennesaw State) 31 points, six rebounds, six assists and three steals in the Owls' 78-64 win over Campbell.
3. F Kyle O'Quinn (Norfolk State) 21 points, 14 rebounds and two blocks in the Spartans' 91-83 loss at Delaware State.