Kansas Jayhawks Need To Find Some Urgency, and Fast

Brandon BohningCorrespondent IMarch 19, 2010

OKLAHOMA CITY - MARCH 18:  Head coach Bill Self of the Kansas Jayhawks reacts against the Lehigh Mountain Hawks during the first round of the 2010 NCAA men's basketball tournament at Ford Center on March 18, 2010 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The scoreboard read 90-74 with 0:00 on the clock on Thursday night and the No. 1 overall seed, the Kansas Jayhawks, beat 16-seed Lehigh. 

While 90-74 looks fairly impressive, it's just 16 points, the biggest news from the game pitting No. 1 against No. 16 was that Lehigh never really went away. 

In fact, the Mountain Hawks from the Patriot League held a 12-4 advantage with nearly six minutes gone in the first half. 

David looked like it had the belief of slaying Goliath for the first time in tournament history, then Bill Self took a timeout. 

No one outside of earshot of Self could have heard what was said during Kansas' first full timeout, but one can guess that the MPAA would have had a tough time giving it an "R" rating—it was probably pushing the boundaries of the barely used "NC-17" rating. 

Kentucky, the other No. 1 seed playing its first round game on Thursday cruised to a 29 point mauling of Eastern Tennessee. The 29 point margin is slightly more typical of a traditional No. 1-No. 16 matchup than KU's measly 16 point triumph. 

It seemed as though Kansas had a boredom hangover, as the Northern Iowa-UNLV game preceding the Jayhawks' contest went well over expected time. 

Last night's game against Lehigh was the latest start time for the Jayhawks all season, and it could be argued that it may have played a roll in their slow start. 

The lack of urgency is particularly disturbing; Kansas has really struggled to get out of the gate with any urgency throughout the season.  

On the few occasions the Jayhawks have started with urgency and built a decent lead, it has typically led to them taking their proverbial foot off the pedal, and allowing teams to start believing again. 

Lehigh capitalized on another slow start for the Jayhawks, and with Kansas starting the game ice-cold, the Mountain Hawks had ample opportunity to be further ahead than just 12-4.

The Patriot League squad was also struggling from the floor, and when the under-16 media timeout didn't do enough to get the Jayhawks fired up, Bill Self was forced to take a full timeout just seconds later. 

It is not uncommon for any team to come out of the gates in their first tournament game a bit tight, it's another thing for a team of Kansas' caliber to look completely lost. 

After the timeout, KU quickly surged to a 25-14 lead and at that point it looked as if the route was on. 

Lehigh never quit, and was able to cut into the deficit, making the score 35-29 at halftime. 

Sherron Collins was his usual self. The team leader finished with 18 points, many of which came at key junctures of the game. 

After being yelled at for being soft in the early going, Marcus Morris took offense to his coach, and had seven of KU's first nine points. He finished with a game-high 26, and grabbed 10 boards, six of which were on the offensive end. 

Not unlike the Big 12 Championship game last Saturday, Tyrel Reed was arguably the deciding factor in Kansas' victory over Lehigh. 

The junior guard finished 4-7 from the floor, all from behind the arc. Two of his four three-pointers came at critical points in the second half, when Lehigh was battling to stay in the game.

Xavier Henry, who seemingly disappeared in the first half, finished with 11 points on 5-7 shooting, grabbing six rebounds along the way. 

Finally, despite Kansas having a tremendous size advantage over Lehigh, Cole Aldrich struggled to get position at times, and rarely demanded the ball on offense. 

The Kansas big man finished with 11 points and eight rebounds—a stat line that most would have been unimpressed with had you listed it before the game tipped off. 

Kansas is now five wins away from being National Champions once more, and there is still a lot of work to be done. 

Next up for the Jayhawks is No. 9 seed Northern Iowa, if the Jayhawks want to avoid arguably the biggest upset of the tournament, they will need to play with much more urgency. 

Should Kansas fail to show any urgency out of the gate against UNI, like they did against Lehigh, the Jayhawks could find themselves in a 24-4 deficit, instead of the 12-4 deficit they found themselves in against Lehigh. 

Kansas fans should be looking forward to Saturday, it's just one more game in the way of their team and their sixth National title.


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