Kansas Basketball: 5 Biggest Questions Jayhawks Face as March Heats Up

Andrew DoughtyCorrespondent IIMarch 4, 2013

Kansas Basketball: 5 Biggest Questions Jayhawks Face as March Heats Up

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    Apparently Self can cross Jeff Withey's perimeter shooting off the list of concerns after watching his 7-footer calmly launch from three in Monday's blowout win.

    His senior-laden roster might grab their ninth-straight Big 12 title this season as the Jayhawks roll toward a potential No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, but plenty of questions still linger.

    Scoring might be down across the nation, but dozens of teams can still hit the perimeter bucket, including a host of mid-majors that Kansas might face this March. KU's three-point defense is one of those questions as March heats up. 

Can They Fend off a Perimeter-Heavy Mid-Major in the NCAA Tournament?

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    Iowa State nearly beat Kansas twice with hot three-point shooting and others have severely exploited their lack of defensive perimeter rotation.

    The three-point defense has been good—not great—all season as they allow opponents to hit 31 percent of their attempts, good for 62nd in the nation.

    However, can they adequately defend a Creighton, Princeton or Saint Mary's team capable of hitting 50-plus percent of their attempts?

Are Perry Ellis and Jamari Traylor Doing Enough off the Bench?

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    Entering Monday's games, reserve forwards Perry Ellis and Jamari Traylor were averaging a combined 23 minutes per game. 

    They have both cut down on foolish turnovers and wasted fouls with improved footwork and disciplined hands, but is Bill Self satisfied with the offensive productivity in those 23 minutes?

    Kevin Young and Jeff Withey are rarely in foul trouble, but many Jayhawk fans sit uneasy thinking about the two freshmen frontcourt players filling in adequately during a tourney run.

Can Elijah Johnson Continue to Improve Decision-Making?

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    Elijah Johnson has dramatically improved his decision-making as a floor leader, bumping his assist-to-turnover ratio over 1.5 over the last two weeks.

    Has he done enough to prove he can lead a championship-caliber team? Almost.

    Self notoriously stuck with his senior point guard during ugly times—times in which he couldn't buy a bucket or establish any coherent communication with the Jayhawks' bigs.

    He recorded 21 assists against TCU, Iowa State and West Virginia last week, good enough for a 2.6 assist-to-turnover clip, and must continue his improved decision-making as we roll toward tourney time.

Can Ben McLemore Score Every Night?

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    Ben McLemore's brief, yet illustrious, Kansas legacy added another notch with a freshman record 36 points in a blowout win over West Virginia.

    With the performance he ended his worst four-game stretch of the season—a stretch in which he shot only 13-for-37 from the floor and saw his shooting percentage severely dip to a season-low 50 percent.

    McLemore remains the most important scorer on the team and cannot play tentative against unfamiliar defensive looks.  His jump shot is most attractive in the country, but his most important weapon is his aggressiveness inside the paint.

    His extreme athleticism and relentless ability to penetrate must be harnessed consistently.

Who Takes the Big Shot?

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    Who takes the big shot?

    Is it a senior in Elijah Johnson or Travis Releford, players with over 200 combined career wins and plenty of tournament experience?

    Or does the freshman take the big shot?

    Johnson proved during the 2012 NCAA Tournament run he can hit the perimeter shot or drive to the bucket in the closing seconds.  He finally took control of a close game in Ames last week with the monster 39-point overtime win performance.