Kansas adjusts at halftime to complete comeback win over Baylor

LAWRENCE, Kan. — Invoice Self made two tactical modifications Saturday afternoon at halftime towards Baylor that had been psychological changes as a lot as they had been basketball changes.

Self advised his finest two defenders (Dajuan Harris and Kevin McCullar) that they might keep on with Baylor’s finest two guards (LJ Cryer and Adam Flagler) it doesn’t matter what. As a substitute of switching all ball screens, Kansas would hedge with its massive man as a substitute of switching, permitting Harris and McCullar to keep on Cryer and Flagler. Then on the opposite finish, Self needed to play bully the Bears. Neglect settling for jumpers, cease standing and begin attacking the rim.

For all the sport in Waco and the primary half Saturday, Kansas had switched every part and it allowed Baylor to dictate the phrases. Within the second half, the matchups had been the matchups.

Our greatest two towards your finest two. 


“Dajuan Harris and Kevin McCullar,” Self mentioned after the 87-71 come-from-behind win. “They set the entire tone defensively. Then in fact, you are concerned about the appropriate issues, you shoot the ball higher.”

The correct issues in Self’s thoughts are protection, rebounding and an attacking mindset. And that’s how Kansas, as soon as down 17, outscored the perfect offensive staff within the nation by 29 factors within the second half.

KU’s program lives for these moments, the place it appears bleak and the man in cost merely offers the Jayhawks the roadmap and flips the toughness swap.

Let’s begin with Self’s tactical shifts as a result of they had been sensible.

The rationale Self had determined not to swap within the first sport is as a result of Baylor guards are actually good at discovering the curler, or for those who attempt to play drop protection — sagging the massive man — the Baylor guards are wonderful making pull-up jumpers. Self additionally found the primary half of the season that his staff isn’t nice at deciding which assist defender ought to decide up the curler. (That defender is named the tag.) Baylor additionally does a very good job of making confusion with its gamers surrounding the ball display motion. So Self’s logic was to remove the necessity for a tag.

Self made it actually easy along with his halftime tweak. KU would hedge, and each time the tag can be whoever was guarding Baylor’s energy ahead — both Jalen Bridges or Caleb Lohner.

Bridges is a 27.3 % 3-point shooter, and Lohner has made simply 3-of-13 3s this season. If the closeouts to these guys had been late, KU might stay with that. And the Bears hardly ever discovered them anyway; Bridges scored three factors on 1-of-4 taking pictures within the second half, and Lohner didn’t try a shot.

Extra importantly, the defensive plan made it so Cryer and Flagler, who mixed for 27 factors within the first half, had been now not getting attractiveness. They mixed to go 4-of-12 within the second half.

“Coach did superb adjustment, and we simply adopted behind him,” Harris mentioned.

Self had this adjustment in his again pocket all alongside, however he was nervous to begin the sport that approach as a result of he didn’t assume Harris might maintain the power stage it took to chase Cryer round for 40 minutes.

“So it was in all probability higher for us, despite the fact that it sucked the primary half, to play the best way we did from a tactical standpoint to permit us to have sufficient power to end the sport,” Self mentioned. “As a result of our guys couldn’t have performed 5 extra minutes; we might have been wasted.”

On the opposite finish of the ground, Kansas obtained respectable photographs within the first half that didn’t fall, however Self didn’t just like the mentality.


“The way in which they guarded us the primary half was swap, keep between the person and the basket, play gaps,” Self mentioned. “The tendency is while you’re open is to stand, and that’s the worst factor you are able to do towards defenses which might be sagging like that.”

Once more, Baylor was dictating the phrases. The Jayhawks had been settling for out of doors photographs, and so they’re at their finest once they assault the paint. Baylor’s backcourt is small — Flagler is 6-3, and Cryer is listed at 6-1 — and its facilities aren’t nice defending on the perimeter and had been additionally in foul hassle, which meant they weren’t going to need to contest photographs at the rim.

It was time to play bully ball.

Kansas began the second half with a play for Wilson to drive to his proper hand. He ended up fumbling it, however Harris set the tone by driving from the slot to open the half with a bucket. On the subsequent two half-court units, the Jayhawks remoted Wilson from the mid-post, backing his man down to make the most of his dimension benefit. As a substitute of standing round and watching, McCullar minimize. He ended up with an offensive rebound that led to an eventual putback after which the second time Wilson discovered him below the basket, the place he was fouled.

Just a few performs afterward an beneath out of bounds, KU took benefit of Cryer switching onto KJ Adams, lobbing him the ball for a simple layup.

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“(That play) will not be something nice, however it’s simply a simple basket you don’t have to earn,” Self mentioned. “They picked on us the primary half, and (second half) we had been ready to get a few of these benefits.”

Once more and time and again.

On KU’s subsequent half-court possession, Self went again to the post-up, utilizing some preliminary motion to get Flagler on Wilson, once more isolating him within the mid-post. The Bears had been so apprehensive about Wilson by this level that it led to a wide-open stand-still 3 for Harris.

post up Harris wide open

That Harris 3 capped a 20-4 run the place KU obtained at least one paint contact on each possession besides one — a wide-open Gradey Dick 3 in transition, which is sort of a layup.

It was paying homage to the nationwide title sport, which has been a reoccurring theme for this staff. These Jayhawks have rallied from double-digit deficits thrice. It’s straightforward for Self to begin evaluating the 2 groups, particularly on a day when the core of that group — Ochai Agbaji, Christian Braun, Remy Martin and Mitch Lightfoot — was again on the town and sat behind the bench.

Self mentioned this staff will not be pretty much as good from a tactical standpoint, however from a aggressive standpoint, it matches the champs. The place this group could possibly be higher is on the defensive finish. McCullar offers KU one other stopper; Wilson is a greater defender than he was a 12 months in the past, which he confirmed within the second half; after which Adams and Ernest Udeh are superior defenders at the 5. Each can swap onto anybody, a luxurious KU didn’t have final 12 months, and each may also hedge and recuperate sooner than David McCormack ever might.

That mixture simply held the staff that entered the day No. 1 in adjusted offensive effectivity to 26 second-half factors.

“The important thing to successful the sport wasn’t us play higher than Baylor the second half, as a result of (if) we simply performed higher than Baylor, we’d misplaced by 9,” Self mentioned. “The important thing was to make them not play good at all. And we took pleasure in that.”

That’s a mentality that Self has instilled. And for those who listened to him intently afterward, you will have observed that he mentioned this staff isn’t pretty much as good from a tactical standpoint but.

As he stood up from desk, somebody identified his staff executed every part he needed that second half.

“Every little thing,” Self answered instantly. “Every little thing.”

This staff might not be at that championship stage but, however one factor was apparent from the satisfaction and confidence of his reply. He has hope these Jayhawks might get there.

(Photograph of Jalen Wilson: Ed Zurga / Getty Photos)

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