Kansas: Lucky or Good?
It’s better to be lucky than good. The 15th ranked Kansas Jayhawks (23-5, 12-1) are the epitome of that saying this season. They have caught more than their share of breaks as the season winds down to an end. The early schedule was more than favorable for KU which allowed the young Jayhawks to develop. Then in their biggest game of the year, Blake Griffin was held out due to a concussion. Not only did Oklahoma not have their best player, but Cole Aldrich and Tyshawn Taylor banked in a couple of shots from the top of the key in the first half to keep the Jayhawks somewhat close as OU was riding on emotion and crowd frenzy. The second half of that game proved that the Jayhawks can be good too as they went on a 45-14 run.
Kansas needs to put that game behind them as the 8th ranked Missouri Tigers (24-4, 11-2) travel to Allen Fieldhouse Sunday for another Border War at 1 p.m. on CBS. In their first meeting, KU showed it can be very good by limiting Missouri to 16 first half points. They also showed their inexperience by allowing the Tigers to overcome a 14 point deficit. The Tigers’ Zaire Taylor knocked down a 12 foot jumper with 1.3 seconds remaining that won the game 62-60. Missouri was led by DeMarre Carroll who contributed 22 points and 7 rebounds. TyShawn Taylor was the only KU player to score in double figures as he added 11 and Cole Aldrich snagged 15 rebounds.
Mike Anderson and Bill Self could both be possible candidates for coach of the year. Jay Bilas mentioned on 810WHB radio Friday that “"Kansas is emerging as one of those teams you don't want to play in March, and this could be Bill Self's best coaching job to date in Lawrence." Self has pretty much dominated Missouri in his career going 13-3, with ten of those wins while he has been at KU. Kansas leads the all-time series against MU with a 166-94 record, 20-9 since the inception of the Big12. A win on Sunday would give Kansas 10 straight wins against Missouri in Allen Fieldhouse dating back to 1999. It also would boost the nations’ longest home winning streak to 40 games. The Jayhawks are 631-106 all time at the Fieldhouse and are an amazing 94-6 under head coach Bill Self.
The key to the game will be how Kansas handles the Missouri pressure. They did a horrendous job of it in the first meeting by committing 27 turnovers. This will be much easier to do since the game is at the Phog and Missouri will be less excitable and can’t feed off their crowd. This isn’t saying it will be an easy game by any means though. Kansas needs to take advantage of their size down low and really pound it into Cole Aldrich. Sherron Collins will get his points by creating his own shot as the shot clock is running out. Brady Morningstar and Tyrell Reed have been exceptional from 3-point distance at home. They should be able to find some open shots as MU applies their press and is double teaming all over the court.
This season has already proved to be more successful than Kansas fans expected. With a win on Sunday, they will come one step closer to locking up a fifth straight Big12 title. With a one-game lead and games at Texas Tech and against Texas, the Jayhawks are right where they want to be. Let’s just hope if their luck runs out, they can show that they are good enough to overcome it.