Kansas men's hoops coach Bill Self has a lot to be thankful for this season. Fresh off of a national championship run, Self's new crop of players are experiencing some early season success. The only problem with that success is that the young Jayhawk players win, but they post uneven performances.
The fact that KU manages to win ballgames during the early part of the 2008-2009 campaign despite inconsistent play is not lost to Self. Saturday's close 86-62 win against Jackson State University was an example of the Baby Jayhawks winning in spite of themselves.
Freshman point guard Tyshawn Taylor posted a double-double with 10 points and 11 assists, but he never really seemed to be in the flow of the game. This came on the heels of a game in which Taylor led the Jayhawks in scoring but managed just 3 assists.
One trademark of last year's national championship team was their incredible depth and balance. The '08 champs would have a different leading scorer from night to night, with major contributions coming from bench players.
This version of the Jayhawks seems to be on track for more of the same, as sophomore shooting guard Tyrel Reed was the catalyst for KU on Saturday. Reed drained two three-pointers during a run that stretched the lead to 56-42 for Kansas, and effectively ended JSU's upset bid.
Sophomore center Cole Aldrich was solid again, putting up 13 points and grabbing eight rebounds. Junior point guard Sherron Collins scored 17 but had four turnovers to go with five assists.
Coach Self will look to improve the assist-to-turnover ratio of his star guard.
Kansas will now face UMASS in the first in a tough stretch of games. That game is scheduled for a 1:00 p.m. tip Saturday the 13th at the nearby Sprint Center in Kansas City.
The two following contests are against Temple and on the road at Arizona. The current installment of Jayhawks must pick up the pace if they want to make it through December unscathed.