In a game where Kansas was projected to roll, the Jayhawks got all they could handle from the Lumberjacks of Stephen F. Austin. The early loss of David McCormack in the first half due to two quick fouls in 2 minutes meant head coach Bill Self was forced to rely on super senior Mitch Lightfoot and true freshman Zach Clemence to handle a larger than normal role for the entirety of the first half.
Kansas was able to weather the storm without McCormack thanks in large part to the play of senior Ochai Agbaji who led all scorers at the halftime break with 11. Turnovers were the key in both halves as neither squad kept firm control of the ball. Kansas committed 6 turnovers in the first half which allowed Stephen F. Austin to keep it close all the way to the under 4:00 timeout in the first half. At that mark They led 29-27 before Kansas pulled away to a 38-31 lead at the break.
The second half was much of the same for both squads as turnovers and missed opportunities from both squads kept this game locked tight for the entire 20 minutes. Big performances from Ochai Agbaji, Christian Braun, and Remy Martin allowed Kansas to come out of Allen Fieldhouse unscathed.
While this wasn’t Martin’s best statistical game as a Jayhawk, it might have been his most impactful overall. His shot making came at crucial moments as 12 of his 15 points came in the second half with a majority of them coming at the free throw line as his aggressiveness showed as he sought contact. Martin was able to put an exclamation point on his big night as buried a pull-up three point shot to ice the game for the Jayhawks.
As Martin continues to grow in this offense for Bill Self, he continues to be reflective when it comes to his performances as a Jayhawk.
“I did not like the way I played today,” Martin said after the game.
Looking at just the box score it seems Martin could potentially be being too critical of his performance but even Martin himself explains that performing well goes beyond the box score.
“[There are] little plays that I know in a game that I just gotta be better at,” Martin noted. “I know that…and I know the team relies on me for certain things as well, to be a leader and I think I let them down a couple times.”
Kansas head coach Bill Self was critical of not just Martin, but his entire team after the game. He noted that he actually thinks the shot selection of his team was good today, but also that he thought the team was very careless when handling the ball which is a fact that is reflected in Kansas’ 17 turnovers on the day.
“He made a big three and celebrated and his man went right around him for a layup,” Self said, speaking on Martin’s big three at the end of the game.
Self didn’t mince his words when discussing Martin noting, “he had an uncontested layup that was a positive two points and he stopped to try and jump off two feet to try and get an and-1…instead of just taking the 2 points.”
Martin did make both free throws in that play Self described, but it was just one of a few plays Self referenced in regard to Martin as he continues to be vocal in both praising his star point guard but also making it very clear that Martin has aspects of his game that he must work on now that he plays for Kansas.
The win over Stephen F. Austin moves Kansas to 9-1 on the season and is their fifth straight win on the season. Martin and the Jayhawks will get a few days to rest up before heading out to Boulder to take on the Colorado Buffaloes on Tuesday.
Click below to hear from Bill Self and the Jayhawks following the 80-72 win over Stephen F. Austin.
Mitch Lightfoot, Christian Braun, and Remy Martin