Robinson will be key for Jayhawks
By Richard Zussman, QMI AGENCY
|Kansas Jayhawks forward Thomas Robinson answers a question during a news conference before their men's NCAA Final Four college basketball game against Kentucky Wildcats in New Orleans. (REUTERS)
Defending Thomas Robinson: As much as fans would like to see the tournament’s most fearsome uni-brow Anthony Davis man up on fellow All-American Robinson in tonight’s championship game, it won’t happen.
The man for the job likely will be Terrence Jones. The senior is a legit stud in the post, scoring 19, 18 and 18 points in his past three games. But Robinson can struggle, when matched up against Purdue he shot just 2-for-12 with just 11 points. If Robinson is off his game early, he will have a hard time getting out of his rut. Kansas will need to make sure it finds openings for its star.
Two half game
CBS executives are hoping the Jayhawks figure out how to play in the first half. The team has now struggled in the first 20 minutes four games in a row and could be looking at a irreversible hole against the ’Cats if they struggle early. In those games Kansas has given up 37.5 points in the first half and just 24 points per game in the second half. Teams have shot 49.1% in the first half and just 24.2% in the second half. Even worse, it has let its four opponents (OSU, NC State, UNC, Purdue) shoot better than 50% from beyond the arc. Kentucky has looked unstoppable in the first half.
Keeping the ball
Kansas and Kentucky have already met once this year and the only thing the ’Cats struggled with during the 75-65 win was ball possession. Kentucky committed 19 turnovers in the November matchup and looked disoriented on offence at times. Bad news for the Jayhawks, that Kentucky team is gone. The ’Cats turned the ball over 14 times Saturday against Louisville and 12 times in the Elite Eight against Baylor. There are still some weaknesses when Kentucky rushes its offensive set that could be to Kansas’ advantage. The Jayhawks have forced a second best 35 steals in the NCAA tournament.
Kansas’ Jeff Withey can change the face of the game with his massive wingspan. The 7-foot Jayhawk centre leads the tournament with 5.4 blocks per game. He also alters the game plan of the guys attacking him. Ohio State star Jared Sullinger struggled to a 5-for-19 shooting night Saturday with Withey on him. He also added seven blocks to his resume in the national semifinal. If he can force Davis into the same shooting slump, then Kansas will have a chance to win. Kentucky on the other hand can also alter offensive strategies in the paint. During the November matchup the ’Cats swatted away 13 Kansas shots and watch for Davis to lead the charge again.
Will taylor show up?
Tyshawn Taylor is the most baffling player of this year’s tournament. The senior guard can go from brilliant to awful in a heartbeat. Case and point Saturday night when Taylor led the team with nine assists. He also threw the ball away with less than five seconds left giving Ohio State a chance to tie the game. The good news for Taylor is Kentucky doesn’t have the sort of defence pest the Buckeyes did in Aaron Craft. The New Jersey native needs to keep turnovers down and set the pace while KU is attacking to be the one cutting down the nets Monday.
WHO IS GOING TO WIN
This is the matchup everyone was hoping for. These are two of college basketball’s best programs, playing their best basketball of the year. The game will be settled in the front court with both teams boasting some of the best forwards in the country. Kentucky is too talented from one to seven to lose. Davis is one of the only players in the country who can use footwork and size to beat Withey. Teague and Miles have developed into consistent, steady guards who have led the ’Cats ship in the right direction. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is the ‘X-Factor’. He has the ability to score at will if he gets going. There are just too many pieces for Kansas to contain. Final Score: Kentucky 78-Kansas 70.