By Nate Bukaty
- Walk Chalk Jayhhawk: Let’s just start with what everyone is talking/Tweeting/Facebooking about from this game: Yes, Svi walked. He took three steps. Maybe even four. He dribbled the ball ONE TIME after he got across half court for crying out loud. How in the world three referees can all be watching that play and swallow their whistles is beyond me. Especially when they spent the majority of the game blowing their whistles at anything that moved.
Now, is this part of some vast conspiracy by the Big 12 to hand another trophy to Kansas? I’m sure you don’t have to search far on the internet to find all sorts of claims to that effect. If that’s the case, the referees did a fantastic job by disguising this one, as K-State shot more free throws and KU was called for more fouls in the game. That very rarely happens for any road team in the Big 12. What I think is more plausible is that refs tend to swallow their whistle in the final seconds of close games, particularly in favor of the home team. It certainly worked out that way for Kansas Tuesday night.
- Credit K-State: I stated Tuesday morning that I had learned next to nothing about The Wildcats through their charmin-soft nonconference schedule. The truth is, the only time they were tested by a decent team, they blew the game at the end. Ironically, the Wildcats might have proven more in their two losses than they have in any of their victories. They played tough and poised at Allen Fieldhouse, all the way to the wire. If Dean Wade hits a wide open three pointer with a few seconds remaining, we aren’t even talking about the non-call at the end of the game. It’s a shame for Wade, because he did just about everything for K-State in this game, apart from hitting his threes. If K-State can play like that on a consistent basis, they’ve got a chance to finish in the top half of this league and make the NCAA tournament. But the Wildcats still need to show that they can finish a game off. Losing in the final seconds has been far too much of a trend with them over the past couple of years. Still, this performance in Lawrence is something they can build off of going into the rest of league play.
- About that Defense: Bill Self lit into his team after their poor defensive performance in Fort Worth last Friday. Well, evidently it didn’t make much of an impression on the team. Self’s players responded to that tongue lashing by allowing Kansas State to score 88 points, which is the second highest point total for a K-State team ever in Allen Fieldhouse (they scored 91 in 1962.) After escaping with the win, Self called this the poorest defensive team he has had at KU. Now, is that just the coach trying to motivate his team, or is that just hashtag realtalk? Tough to say after the first two performances of conference play. Fortunately for the Jayhawks, they are elite offensively, which has allowed them to turn in a couple of stinkers on the defensive end, and still come away with a 2-0 record.
- Look for Lucas: Self also said after Tuesday night’s game that Landon Lucas has emerged as the team’s most dependable player right now. In two games of league play, Lucas has posted two double-doubles. He went for 18 points and 12 rebounds against Kansas State. But what stood out to me even more than his overall production was the fact that, in the final two minutes, with the game on the line, Self drew up plays to specifically get the ball to Lucas down low. With all of the offensive weapons on the floor for KU, those are not words I thought I would be typing at any point this season. And the fifth year senior rewarded his coach’s by scoring a big basket with 1:27 to go, although he missed the and-one opportunity. Lucas also drained two big free throws with 1:02 to go, after getting DJ Johnson to foul out.
- Three T’s for Jackson: Josh Jackson played an outstanding game against Kansas State, scoring 22 points, grabbing nine rebounds, and dishing out six assists. But the play involving Jackson that drew the most conversation after the game was the technical foul he picked up, which is his third already this season. According to Bill Self, Jackson got T’d up this time for simply yelling “call the foul” at the official. Jackson says that K-State players yelled the exact same thing at the refs multiple times thereafter, with no punishment. That’s all well and good, but Jackson has a problem on his hands now. Clearly the refs have their antennae up when it comes to Jackson. And, fair or unfair, three technicals in 14 games means he has a reputation now. That means he’s going to have less leeway with the refs than other players will. On Tuesday night, Jackson was able to stay out of foul trouble despite the T. But against TCU, his technical foul contributed to him fouling out in just 13 minutes of playing time. Jackson’s emotional intensity is one of his best attributes, so you’d hate to see him lose that. But he’s going to have to be a little more careful going forward.