The day started with a dominating Kansas win at TCU. The Jayhawks let the Horned Frogs back in the game at points but never appeared to be in danger of losing. Missouri improved its record to 5-0 in their annual Rally For Rhyan game. Kansas State started its game down 21-2 and fought back to within four points before losing.
Here is your daily Dr. Feelgood…
KANSAS (60) AT TCU (46)
Kansas controlled this game from the opening tip on their way to a 60-46 win in which KenPom says they never had a win probability below 75%. The Kansas win along with Baylor’s win over Oklahoma State keeps the Jayhawks one game behind the Bears with nine conference games remaining.
Kansas played terrific defense once again. They now have the number one defense in the country according to KenPom and it makes sense. Kansas struggles on offense but in almost every game their opponents struggle even more. Desmond Bane scored 20 of TCU’s 46 points. Nobody else scored more than 11 points. Kansas held the Horned Frogs to 44% shooting inside the arc and 23% behind the arc.
Udoka Azubuike had another terrific game even if he struggled when multiple defenders collapsed on him. First the good. Azubuike scored 20 points on 10-for-14 shooting, pulled down 15 rebounds and had five blocked shots. When Azubuike got a good position inside and had just one defender on him, he scored with relative ease. Azubuike did a good job moving his defender up the court allowing the Kansas guards to pass over the defender into Azubuike for an easy dunk.
But all wasn’t easy for Azubuike even with the impressive stat line. When TCU played behind him, Azubuike sometimes struggled to decide which way to move. TCU’s Kevin Samuel played good defense on him at times. However, when TCU collapsed two or three defenders on Azubuike, the ball stuck in his hands too much.
Azubuike was bothered when surrounded by defenders and therein lies a problem for the Kansas offense. Kansas isn’t a good three-point shooting team. Why wouldn’t teams double or triple-team Azubuike more and leave Marcus Garrett and Devon Dotson alone out there? Both Dotson and Garrett score their points attacking the basket. Dotson can shoot from the outside but he is hitting just 27% of his three-point shots. If he starts hitting his shot then adjust on defense. But make Azubuike pass the ball!
ARKANSAS (79) AT MISSOURI (83)
Missouri pulled out an overtime win over Arkansas on Saturday. The Tigers held the Razorbacks to 44% shooting inside the arc and 21% behind the arc. Unfortunately, Missouri shot just 46% inside the arc and 19% behind the arc themselves. But with Arkansas looking like a potential tournament team it was a nice win for the Tigers.
Jeremiah Tilmon and Mark Smith both sat out because of injury. The broadcast team tried to sell viewers on the fact that the Tigers were missing a force inside with Tilmon out. I hear this game after game but I disagree. I think it’s just what these broadcasters think they are supposed to say. If everyone else is saying he’s a force inside then the safest thing for them to do is say the same thing.
Missouri is not close to being the most talented team in the country but they continue to fight in every game. I can’t think of a game this season where I thought they quit on Cuonzo Martin. Maybe I’m forgetting a game. Let me know if I am. I’m impressed that a team that has struggled as much as the Tigers have this season continues to fight the way they do.
Reed Nikko is one of the Tigers who works hard. He’s certainly not the only one but I was particularly impressed with his work ethic in this game. Nikko scored 11 points and pulled down 11 rebounds. Nobody inside outworked Nikko in the game. Unfortunately, Nikko is a nice player off the bench for a good team and not a starter. Missouri needs him to start and play 20 minutes in this one. That shows just how much improvement in talent this team needs.
Regardless of what we would like this team to be, Missouri is getting good effort from the players they do have on the court. Cuonzo Martin has to improve his recruiting or he will be done after next season if not sooner.
KANSAS STATE (63) AT IOWA STATE (73)
I saw a tweet right after this game that said that if you take away the first seven and last seven minutes of the game Kansas State might have won. Really?! If we take away 35% of the game things might have been different? Sometimes things don’t come across the way the writer intended so I’m hoping that was a joke. It wasn’t clear to me though so it was poor to write it that way.
The statement bothers me because I really had expectations from this team when they were struggling early in the season that they would improve and they haven’t. Bruce Weber’s coaching history indicates that his teams get a lot better as the season progresses. But for some reason, this season’s Kansas State team just isn’t doing that. In fact, in the Wildcats’ last game Fran Fraschilla said that Cartier Diarra was playing for himself and not his team. That’s a strong statement but the way Diarra has been playing it isn’t unreasonable to feel that way.
Whether it was because of Fraschilla’s comments or something else, Cartier Diarra seemed to have extra energy in this game. He scored 24 points on 5-for-11 shooting behind the arc. So did he play better or was he just hot shooting in this game? I think both were the case. He didn’t force as many shots so the Wildcats didn’t lose as many possessions because of his bad shots. He won’t shoot 45% from behind the arc every game so hot shooting was definitely part of it. Regardless, Kansas State needs better play out of Diarra. He’s just a junior but Fraschilla is convinced that he’s looking to play pro basketball overseas next season.
Diarra said after the game that Fraschilla’s comments were wrong. He said that he is very realistic and is all about Kansas State and that they just need to win games.
Bob Knight returned to Indiana for the first time since being fired 20 years ago. Indiana was honoring the 1980 Big Ten champion Hoosiers team. Bob Knight had opportunities to return in previous years but he was bitter towards the university and refused to attend. Now at 79 Knight decided it was the right time and it appeared to be good for everyone.
WHAT TO WATCH: There are a couple of games worth watching in college basketball if you aren’t busy watching the XFL on Sunday. Ohio State is at Wisconsin at noon and Wichita State is at Houston at 2 pm.
PODCAST: The Thursday podcast is available wherever you get your podcasts. I talked quite a bit about the Chiefs and specifically Patrick Mahomes. I also discussed several news items in Major League Baseball this week. And then I touched on a potential law in Kansas that affects sports participation.
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