On a day in which Bill Self became the second-fastest Division I coach to win 700 games, he gave a quick glance at the boxscore and understood the limitations Kansas had with offensive production.
Senior center Udoka Azubuike and sophomore guard Devon Dotson, who were both named to the late season watch list for the John R. Wooden Award, recorded double-doubles in the No. 3 Jayhawks’ 60-46 victory over TCU on Saturday.
“If you think about it, who other than Devon and Dok really played well?” Self asked before providing his own interpretation. “I do think what all our guys did, I do think they guarded pretty well.”
Only appropriate, really, given the historical significance of the 700-win plateau.
Self, just like other coaches who reached that milestone, is passionate about making solid defensive play a staple. Defense figures to be a must again Wednesday when Kansas (20-3, 9-1 Big 12) carries its eight-game winning streak into its road game against No. 14 West Virginia (18-5, 6-4) in Morgantown, W. Va.
“The defense leads to the offense,” added Self, 57. “Our numbers are so inflated because we got some steals and layups. If it wasn’t for that, our offense would have been pretty inept.”
When the Jayhawks weren’t racing for breakout baskets against TCU, they fed the low post. The 7-foot Azubuike responded with nine dunks while going 10 of 14 from the floor. The nation’s best shooter in terms of field goal percentage (75.9 percent) also snared 15 rebounds for his 10th double-double of the season.
Dotson went 7 of 17 but managed to distribute a career-high 11 assists, even though teammates other than Azubuike combined to go 7 of 27. That level of offensive execution was adequate since the 60-46 win was the fewest points Kansas allowed in a Big 12 road game since 2013.
“Our team kind of takes pride in that, making the other team play bad or whatever,” sophomore guard Ochai Agbaji told the Lawrence Journal-World. “I think that’s something we hang our hat on.”
As someone already enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, Self didn’t spend much time dwelling on his 700th win, which he recorded in his 27th season as a Division I head coach.
“It’s nice. That’s a lot of wins,” Self acknowledged. “But certainly, I would be much more concerned about just beating TCU and playing well at West Virginia than I am any of that other stuff.”
Offensive concerns for the Mountaineers were evident in a 69-59 loss Saturday at Oklahoma. West Virginia attempted more shots (76 to 49) but missed 52 attempts, including several from short range. Two frontline contributors, 6-foot-9 freshman Oscar Tshiebwe and 6-10 sophomore Derek Culver, combined to go 7-for-26.
A sellout is expected at WVU Coliseum for the game against Kansas, which claimed a 60-53 victory in a Jan. 4 meeting at Lawrence despite a double-double by Tshiebwe, who posted 17 points and 17 rebounds.
“We’re good enough to beat any team in the country if we have the right frame of mind,” West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said. “Somehow we’ve got to have the right frame of mind.”
–Field Level Media