Blog Entry

Kansas survives and advances against Okie State

Posted on: March 10, 2011 4:31 pm
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- It wasn't the No. 1 seed being at risk.

It wasn't the foul trouble.

It wasn't the flat start.

It was the near embarrassment for No. 2 Kansas of being punked in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 tournament by a five-foot nothing shooting guard with an overbite.

Too harsh a description for Oklahoma State's Keiton Page? Maybe not. Jayhawks guard Tyrel Reed was asked if the (actually, 5-foot-9) Cowboys guard would be considered a Big 12-caliber player at first glance.

"I don't think anyone would [think that]," Reed said. "He probably doesn't look the part, but definitely plays the part."

Page, the Cowboys' second-leading scorer, is one of those gnat-like guards who can seemingly dribble between your legs. But let up or back off and that embarrassment potential is high. He's that little guy who can stick a three in your face and shoots 90 percent from the line. That Page didn't touch the ball in the game's final possession was probably the difference in Kansas' 63-62 win. Up until that point, he had been the Cowboys statistical and spiritual leader with 23 points.

"When you talk about the eye test, there's a lot of guys out there who don't exactly pass the eye test," KU coach Bill Self said, "for what the prototypical two-guard in the Big 12 should look like. But that kid can play. He's a bad boy." 

Not bad enough, it turned out. With his team trailing by that point, Oklahoma State's Jean-Paul Olukemi missed a closely-guarded three as time expired. The spiritual and statistical leader never touched the ball. Self had wisely placed long-armed 6-4 Elijah Johnson on Page to deny  him the ball,

 That the Jayhawks held Page to "only" 23 was the difference in Kansas moving on to Friday's semifinals. A loss would have raised even more questions about KU's focus this time of year. Hey, when you're 30-2 there isn't much more to analyze. That's 10 30-win seasons in school history, four under Self. 

The Jayhawks have won seven consecutive regular-season Big 12 titles and, even with a loss, may have been able to keep a No. 1 seed. The last time they won a conference tournament game this close was five years to the day -- by the same score, against the same team.

"Obviously the last five minutes of a game is far more important than the first five, because the mistakes are magnified and you don't have time to recover," Self said. "In our season, we know we're going to get to go on, and their [Oklahoma State's] goal is to go to the NCAA Tournament. So they're in the last five and we played like were in the first five."

Leading rebounder Markieff Morris fouled out. KU shot only five-of-25 from the arc. Ho-hum, bring on the tournament. Kansas is among the handful of teams that have to span that mental abyss from a regular season of accomplishment to the "real" season in March. Seventeen days ago Page scored only eight points in a 27-point blowout in Lawrence. It was easy to figure that Oklahoma State -- likely headed for a three-letter postseason -- would have more energy, more desperation this time. Kansas' effort was explainable, even tolerable, this time of year. It wasn't explainable last year when Northern Iowa upset the Jayhawks in the second round with a similar desperation.

"I don't think we were looking forward to next week by any means," Reed said. "It was a tough game. Oklahoma State came out with a lot of energy ... There are going to be games when you're not making shots and things aren't going your way and it's going to be a half-court game. That was definitely a tourney type game [on Friday]. We've got a taste for it now."   

Since: Aug 24, 2006
Posted on: March 11, 2011 2:22 pm

Kansas survives and advances against Okie State

Nice analysis, KUKC. I bleed crimson and blue myself, so I can relate to everything you said. I heard many fans complaining we hadn't blown out the Cowboys, but then I see North Carolina almost blowing it against Miami, and Ohio st almost losing to Northwestern. a W is a W, even if it gives old geezers like us heart attacks.

Since: Mar 29, 2007
Posted on: March 11, 2011 3:22 am

Kansas survives and advances against Okie State

I am so glad that this afternoon I was staffing our loal art gallery and didnt get t watch or listen to the game. Close games are fun....once its over and you've won, but its the 346 heart attacks suffered through what can also be deemed 40 minutes of hell that can be a bit much when youre a diabled ol grouch like me. Im glad I learned the score of this game 2 hours after it was over. Lackadasical motvation, playing down to your competetion....those are traps the Hawks have fallen into before...I think they have learned from it, and though today was not a work of Art, KU can blow you out in a fast paced game, grind it out in a halfcourt game, and win slow paced sloppy games such as today's. They have an ability to win in a myriad of fashions, but will they? I for one never is that whole thing about it being a bouncing ball, handled by imperfect humans...anything can happen.

I believe in, and bleed Crimson and Blue for my Jayhawks, but Im not such a blind homer that I cant see their flaws, or ignore them. I know they will get everyone's best game, and if we take care of the ball, rebound well, play smothering defense-KU ball, and finish...whether its keeping the intensity throughout the whole game, or making free throws down the stretch...they do these things well, with good inside out play with the Twins and our 3 point bombers playing full out, they can and will play with anyone. I don't know how many of you have seen all their games this season, but when the machine clicks, they are near unstoppable. Yes they laid 2 eggs this season, and had close games. We also had a #1 blue chip freshman PG, Mr Selby, who has not shown what the hype was about yet...If he wants to go pro next year, like these blue chippers all seem to do, then he better grow up a ton and have a stellar tourney, otherwise, he needs at least another year of seasoning to be ready. Before I forget, the part of all of this that makes me smile the most is that KU was picked to be 5th in the big 12 at most. I wonder where The College Basketball Soothsayers Association had their crow dinner the  choice raptor dinner after  botching their pick that bad. IT also shows how the mainstream sports press is much more informed with costal teams.

I was in Allen Fieldhouse the night of the Champinship against Memphis....and Im going to make a side point quick as I can, but it bugs me, so please indulge me this small rant......I do not call that shot that sent the game to overtime, "Mario's Miracle", it was a great clutch guarded shot when it was needed most...thats what winners do. I also refuse to say "Danny and the Miracles" to refer to the 1988 Championship Team. Doing so devalues the work  these young men put in, and it cheapens their incredible effort, and it also makes it sound as if Kansas can only win if some divine guidance intecedes. Im guessing we are the only team this happens for, Ive not heard any mention of a program as storied and so much of the fabric of College Basketball having to win merely by dumb luck, chance, or of course miracles such as parting the Crimson and Blue sea... Hear me, Kansas Jounalists? Pull your heads out , and  give them therir full due , stop portraying the Jayhawks, of all teams, as being one who needs extraordinary, unexplainable miracles to propel them to victory. Has anyone, in referring to a famous Duke/Kentucky game, where Christian Laettner, caught the pass, turned, set and drained his win or go home shot "The Duke Miracle" or Laettner's Miracle" NO, because big players on storied franchise rosters are supposed to do that . Every time?, hell no....they cant even make free throws at better than a 67% clip, so these clutch plays are amazing to see, dramatic moments in a game, but at the level Kansas, Duke, Kentucky, North Carolina, UCLA(kinda still), and Indiana...yes I know Im leaving some out...the guys are these teams are very much expected to deliver big in those situations .....otherwise we would be Slippery Rock (a fine college), or Northwest Montana A&T (dont even know if such a school even exists). I can really only speak for the Hawks. Ive known several, since I live here, they do go out in public...aint that amazing!? It may be a lot of pressure at a young age, but at these blue chip programs....."Miracles" are expected.

Finally, my plea to Coach Self. Bill, Definitely give many more minutes to Elijah Johnson that to Tyshawn Taylor...I love the guy, but in tough games he becomes out of control, thinking he has to do something Globetrotter amazing to lead his team to victory. Sherron Collins had that problem in all but the Championship year...he'd push the ball up faster than he had coordination to do, and it led to lots of turnovers and sloppy overall play.

Since: Mar 10, 2011
Posted on: March 10, 2011 8:16 pm

Kansas survives and advances against Okie State

Dennis, great article. Keep doing college basketball, KU had a close one.

Since: Dec 21, 2007
Posted on: March 10, 2011 6:57 pm
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