KU playing at a rarefied level

By Steve Sell
March 24, 2017

Speed kills.

Just ask the Purdue Boilermakers.

After the Kansas Jayhawks flashed and dashed past Purdue for a 98-66 faceplant Thursday in a dizzying display of supersonic speed, Boilermaker fans were probably panting for, well, a boilermaker to drown their sorrows.

Make no mistake. If Kansas duplicates this type of skill level and shooting efficiency for three more games, Bill Self and his team will be cutting down the nets for the first time since 2008. KU was scary good and I don’t think anyone in the country would have touched them on this night.

What was looking like anybody’s game — it was 53-51 early in the second half – turned into a trip to the woodshed. 

Kansas, after a slow shooting start, blistered the nets for 34 of 62, including 15 of 28 from behind the arc. While Purdue had a decisive size advantage, KU used its quickness and athleticism advantages to come away with a 35-27 rebounding advantage.

If there was any question about who the best backcourt in the country is, I turn to Exhibit A. Frank Mason, who has solidified his Player of the Year candidacy, and wild-card Devonte’ Graham both went off for 26 points as the Purdue guards were terribly overmatched. Mason has been performing at this level all year, but Graham — whose season has been marked by inconsistency — has found a level just a notch below the Toy Bulldog.

Self got 22 points from his combo of Svi Mykhailiuk and Legerald Vick, something that has to continue as well. Landen Lucas basically took the night off from playing offense to concentrate on battling Purdue’s imposing front line, and received help from Dwight Coleby and even Carlton Bragg, the MIA sophomore who at least on this night had his head on straight with 6 rebounds.

Kansas can’t expect to shoot 15 of 28 from 3-point again — I’m sure Self will have one of his ‘Fools Gold’ sayings — but this is a team that is an offensive inferno. KU nearly hit the 100 mark for the second time in three games and has been over 90 in all three. Its defense, however, is being overlooked as after a slow start Thursday by giving up 40 first-half points, it went into lockdown mode in the second half and forced 16 turnovers for the game.

KU now plays an Oregon team in the Elite Eight that is of similar ilk. The Ducks like to get the ball up and down the floor in a hurry and have good guard play. But this is a Kansas team that appears to be on a mission and it has a mental toughness that may not be denied.