When playing Kansas: Go zone, hope for the best

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Anyone trying to slow Kansas’ relentlessly consistent and efficient offense should thank Oklahoma State for a blueprint.

Go zone and hope for the best.

“We usually shoot about 30 percent of our shots as 3s,” Kansas coach Bill Self said after a 63-62 win. “When we’re playing well, it’s more like 10-15 percent. That’s as tight as anybody has played us all year. They went zone. The looks we were going to get were guys open on the perimeter. When the bigs went out, they probably condensed it more and we didn’t make them pay.”

It was a necessity given how locked in Marcus Morris was early on. The Big 12 player of the year was the only Jayhawk who was ready for the early tip, scoring 12 of his 16 points in the first half. If the Cowboys play him in straight-up man defense, they would’ve been toast.

Instead, a rare off day from Tyrel Reed and a bad shooting performance from Brady Morningstar turned into a tight game.

The Jayhawks were just 5 of 25 from beyond the arc and 36 percent overall, a far cry from their usual offensive standards.

Also an issue: The return of Kansas’ defense didn’t last long. Keiton Page – the guard KU sophomore Eljiah Johnson locked down just two weeks ago – scored 23 points.

The Jayhawks (30-2) remain a solid bet for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament, but also remain a sometimes confounding team. For a squad that takes pleasure in routing inferior opponents, Oklahoma State shouldn’t have been in the game. Will Colorado’s two future pros — Cory Higgins and Alec Burks — take advantage of that defense on Friday? I’m guessing Self ensures his team is more focused. 

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