Kansas Basketball: Who's to Blame for Sweet 16 Collapse Against Michigan?

Doug BrodessCorrespondent IMarch 30, 2013

Kansas Basketball: Who's to Blame for Sweet 16 Collapse Against Michigan?

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    The Kansas Jayhawks were beating Michigan by as much as 14 points with 6:50 to go in regulation of their South Region Sweet 16 matchup. But the Big 12 champs could not close the deal.

    The Wolverines not only tied the game with 4.3 seconds on a 30-foot three pointer by Big Ten player of the year, Trey Burke, but they also ended up winning an overtime thriller that saw KU with the ball and a chance to tie it or send it into a second overtime period.

    Can anyone say “collapse?”

    Who and what is to blame for this epic breakdown?

5. Anyone (other Than Nadir Tharpe) Who Was Assigned to Guard Trey Burke

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    The Jayhawks did an excellent job of holding Trey Burke scoreless in the first half...scoreless.

    When was the last time that happened?

    The second half and OT were a different story. Burke ended up scoring 23 big-time points and leading the Wolverines to victory.

    According to ESPN Stats and Information:

    "Burke was two-for-six and scored only five points while guarded by Naadir Tharpe. He was 7-15 when guarded by any other Jayhawk.Tharpe did not guard Burke in the final 6 minutes of regulation or overtime, and Burke went 5-8 from the floor and scored 15 points."

    Looks like the Jayhawks' backup PG should have stayed on the national player of the year favorite until the end of the game.

4. Jeff Withey's Defense on Mitch McGary

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    Mitch McGary had his best game since putting on the Maize and Blue. The 6’10” freshmen post player scored a career-high 25 points and tied his career-best 14 rebounds.

    Fourteen of his points and nine of his rebounds came after halftime.

    Almost without exception, senior center Jeff Withey matched up against McGary.

    Though Withey’s overall contribution was acceptable (12 points and 8 rebounds), he allowed McGary to do way too much in the paint.

3. The Entire KU Offense in the Last 4:40 in Regulation

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    Kevin Young made a tip shot with a 4:40 left in regulation, making the score 70-59 (Kansas’ lead)

    For the rest of regulation, the Jayhawks made one more shot from the field and only scored six points. Down the stretch, the Wolverines outscored the Jayhawks 17-6.

    During that same time, KU committed four turnovers.

    Kansas started playing conservatively and hesitating instead of being confident as they had for the first 35 minutes of the ball game.

2. Bill Self and the KU Coaching Staff

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    The KU players made decisions and plays that determined the outcome of the game, but Bill Self and his coaching staff also made decisions that impacted the final results.

    The Jayhawks' offensive drought down the stretch of regulation could have been avoided.

    Ben McLemore, KU's leading scorer, only took one shot in the final 11 minutes of regulation. At some point, during one of the timeouts, a set play should have been called for the Jayhawks' leading scorer.

    But it doesn't appear that happened.

1. Elijah Johnson's Unfortunate Last-Second Decision Making

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    Coming out of a timeout with eight seconds left in OT and down two points, the Jayhawks put the ball in Elijah Johnson’s hand.

    The senior PG drove right and had what looked to be a clear path to the basket. Rather than taking it all the way to the rim, Johnson kicked the ball out to Naadir Tharpe, who launched a last-second three-pointer that failed to find the bottom of the net.

    When the question was asked in the postgame press conference concerning this last play, senior wing Travis Releford said,

    “The original plan was to go for a two, but it was ‘take what the defense gives us.’ And we didn’t get a good look at the end.”

    You hate that games come down to a situation like this...but they do.