Josh Campos & Brian Graham, KC SportsNation
In its final game at Reed Arena in College Station, the Jayhawks were very careful not to “say” that they were overlooking the Aggies in preparation for the Border Showdown Saturday. And for the first 30 minutes of the game, the Jayhawks showed it.
Then, after 30 minutes of offensive ineptitude, A&M used a 16-2 run in just four minutes – they scored just 21 in the first-half – in what was an extended 27-11 to pull within 60-56. A few possessions later, after KU went 1-2 on two trips to the free throw line, A&M had the ball down four after Elston Turner free throws, the Aggies were back within four, 62-58, but ?? Kinsley missed a 3-pointer with 27 seconds left.
Jeff Withey then made four straight free throws.
Kansas (23-5, 13-2 Big 12) made it a game when Thomas Robinson received a technical during a loose ball, fouling him out of the game and sending Turner, who finished with 10 points, went to the line.
Kansas led 47-26 with 13 minutes remaining before A&m began their comeback.
“To put them in a position to be able to win the game is beyond belief because we were just making basketball plays experienced guys should never make,” head coach Bill Self said.
For the first time in a long time, the Aggies were playing at full strength as Dash Harris played in his first game since the Kansas loss in Lawrence and Khris Middleton coming off his recent injuries. In the first half the Jayhawks were able to build a 10-point halftime lead without much offensive production from Robinson, who eventually registered his 19th double-double with 10 points, 13 rebounds. He was held scoreless in the first half but was able to rebound well and find the open man while being tripled-teamed at times. Had it not been for Elijah Johnson’s 17 points in the first half, Kansas would have been playing from behind after the break as not much was contributed from Tyshawn Taylor or Robinson – who combined to score just 20 points.
Robinson had a “bad game,” yet you look up at the scoreboard and see that he had a double double. Still, his 10 points came on just 3-10 shooting, and while he had 4 assists he also had 3 turnovers.
Self said Robinson was “never engaged in the game.”
Self, and the rest of Kansas nation, have to be discouraged that the team’s best player would voluntarily remove himself from a game by trying to show how tough he is when the game is still in doubt.
The 31-21 Kansas lead increased to as many as 21 points in the second half as the Jayhawks appeared to half delivered the knockout punch. Thomas Robinson got going, the Kansas bench scored 8 points, and Withey was controlling the paint. Then, Kansas tried to mail it in. You could see the momentum beginning to shift has Kansas looked to milk the clock just a little before the 8-minute media timeout.
During a 2-minute stretch, the Aggies were able to have a 12-2 run and ultimately cut the Kansas lead to 5 at 61-56. Just like in previous efforts against Missouri and Kansas State, lots of miscues and turnovers made what should have been an easy victory into a nail biter. The Robinson technical, missed free throws, and unnecessary fouls almost cost the Jayhawks the game. But in the end, the Aggies, now 13-14, 4-11, couldn’t capitalize and Kansas escaped with a 66-58 tough road win.
While A&M went on their run, Kansas went without a field goal for more than seven minutes, as Middleton got hot and scored a season-high 23 points.
“We were making basketball plays experienced guys should never make,” Self added. “When you make plays you know nobody wants you to make and it doesn’t bother you, that’s a bad sign for a basketball team. It didn’t seem it bothered us much tonight. Bad shots shouldn’t lead to bad attitudes.”
Player of the Game: Elijah Johnson is still very much an unknown factor for the Jayhawks. He finished with a team-high 21 points, three rebounds, two assists, and two steals for the Jayhawks. His three-point scoring was crucial in the first half because it opened up space for Robinson in the second half as he scored all of his points in the second half. Johnson (4-7) made all of KU’s 3-pointers (4-18).
News, Notes, Etc: Kansas could have been saved by their FT shooting. Not by their success rate, but by the mere numbers, as they hit 20 of 29. We have seen three games in the last four where KU struggled at the line – as well as other areas – down the stretch and allowed to team’s to come back, or rally past. The Hawks only two players (Withey, Connor Teahan) shooting over 70% from the stripe.
Did KU start looking ahead to Mizzou midway through the second half?
Withey‘s 11 points, seven rebounds and four blocks seems like a pedestrian day for the 7-footer. Tells you how far he has come in just a few weeks.
Conner Teahan was a pitiful 0-6 from 3 – just terrible for a “3-point specialist” but he did have a career-high eight boards.
Tyshawn Taylor had a so-so game, with 12 points (3-7, 1-3 3, 3-5 FT) wit 4 assists and 2 turnovers. He also hit a huge pair of FTs late and just as importantly drove the lane when Kansas needed points.
|Thomas Robinson, F||28||3-10||0-0||4-5||3||13||4||0||1||3||5||10|
|Jeff Withey, C||28||3-7||0-0||5-7||1||7||0||1||4||1||1||11|
|Tyshawn Taylor, G||30||4-10||1-3||3-5||0||0||4||1||0||2||4||12|
|Travis Releford, G||28||2-6||0-2||0-1||2||7||2||1||1||0||4||4|
|Elijah Johnson, G||35||7-11||3-7||4-7||1||3||1||2||0||0||1||21|
|Conner Teahan, G||28||0-6||0-6||4-4||3||8||1||0||1||1||0||4|
|Kevin Young, F||16||2-4||0-0||0-0||1||2||0||0||1||0||0||4|
|Justin Wesley, F||5||0-0||0-0||0-0||0||1||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Naadir Tharpe, G||2||0-0||0-0||0-0||0||0||0||0||0||1||0||0|
|Texas A&M Aggies|
|David Loubeau, F||17||4-10||0-0||2-2||1||2||0||0||0||2||5||10|
|Khris Middleton, F||33||8-14||3-6||4-4||0||5||2||0||0||3||3||23|
|Elston Turner, G||38||3-9||2-5||2-2||0||7||5||0||0||2||2||10|
|Ray Turner, F||31||2-7||0-0||0-3||2||8||0||0||0||1||4||4|
|Jordan Green, G||20||1-4||0-0||1-2||1||2||0||0||0||1||1||3|
|Dash Harris, G||24||3-6||1-3||1-1||0||3||4||0||0||1||2||8|
|Zach Kinsley, G-F||13||0-4||0-4||0-0||0||0||0||1||0||0||2||0|
|Daniel Alexander, F||6||0-1||0-0||0-0||0||1||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Keith Davis, C||18||0-0||0-0||0-0||0||2||1||0||1||0||1||0|
NBC’s College Basketball Talk: With win over A&M, Kansas controls its own Big 12 destiny
Lawrence Journal World: Elijah Johnson gives KU offensive spark against Texas A&M