Bill Self and No. 14/15 Kansas (4-2; 0-0) are back at it Saturday when they play host to South Florida (5-3; 0-0) in Allen Fieldhouse.
Although it ended in a 23-point victory, Kansas was anything but crisp against Florida Atlantic Wednesday night. Generally speaking, guard play was, as Self stated, horrific, while center Jeff Withey couldn't be found on the court due to another game spent on the bench with foul trouble.
Once again, junior forward Thomas Robinson was the star, despite a rough first half shooting. One might think Kansas has been a one-man show, but the Jayhawks have received production from various players, just not on the same night, something the coaching staff would love to correct as the schedule continues to get tougher and the season progresses.
Saturday, KU will have another chance to fine-tune themselves before No. 2 Ohio State comes calling next weekend. South Florida isn't the toughest of opponents, but is nonetheless a D-1 team which should provide the Jayhawks with a test on their home floor.
The easy thing to do for local media and fans has been to blame Tyshawn Taylor for KU the teams' struggles, however, aside from the Duke game in which Taylor had 11 turnovers, he has played well, particularly on the offensive end. The only reason Kansas was relatively in the Kentucky game was because of Taylor's second half where he proved to be the offense.
Against Duke in what was a tight game throughout, Taylor scored 17 points. The turnovers have been an issue, but for a player who is all of a sudden supposed to be one of two leaders for the first time in his career, and a player who essentially has to play nearly all 40 minutes, Taylor is holding his own.
Where Kansas needs to see improvement is from players like Jeff Withey, who seems to follow one really solid performance with an equally poor one. The bench has also been an issue for Kansas, who still is unable to find a player or two to come in and give the Jayhawks any real production.
If KU is to content not only for a conference title, but in March as well, Taylor and Robinson can't continue to log 35-plus minutes per game. Yet again, Saturday is a chance for Self and his staff to find two or three other players to step up and give the team not only energy and minutes, but production in scoring.
Thus far, Robinson and Taylor are scoring close to half the average points per game for Kansas, something which needs to be corrected immediately.
The next high scorer is less than 10 points per game, while the aforementioned juniors are scoring over 16 a game.
Saturday's matchup is less about South Florida as much as it's about Kansas finding some production from other players and getting some consistency as a team on both ends of the court.
They might be 5-3 on the year, but South Florida has had their fair share of struggles. In a loss to VCU, the Bulls managed just 46 points on 37-percent shooting. They also hit just 3-of-14 three pointers.
In terms of national statistical rankings, the Bulls are currently No. 262 in points per game and No. 136 in field goal percentage.
If there is one thing you can say about Kansas, it's that Bill Self is putting an extra emphasis on defense due to the lack of offense, which means South Florida is going to have an even tougher time scoring.
The Bulls are led by forward Victor Rudd's 12 points per game followed by 6-foot-10 big man Augustus Gilchrist's 11 points per game. Gilchrist should provide the Bulls with a legit inside force to content against KU's All American candidate, Thomas Robinson, who is destroying opponents on both ends of the court so far this season.
The key to slowing Robinson is to make him a face-up player and get him sped up, where his has been prone to turnovers and to try and do too much on his own.
Kansas has also struggled to shoot the ball from the perimeter, which means South Florida may collapse the paint and force the Jayhawks to beat them with jump shots. Taking away from Florida Atlantic's performance on Wednesday against KU, speed and hustle frustrated Kansas and forced them into turnovers, which is something the Bulls need to focus on if they want to stay with the Jayhawks.
The Bulls currently have five players averaging at least eight points per game, three of which turning in an average of 11 points or better. The most glaring stat for South Florida is the 12 assists per game to 13 turnovers, something no coach wants to see from his squad.
G - Anthony Collins (Freshman, 6-foot-1, 175 pounds)
G - Blake Nash (Sophomore, 6-foot-0, 185 pounds)
F - Victor Rudd (Sophomore, 6-foot-7, 207 pounds)
F - Ron Anderson Jr. (Senior, 6-foot-8, 255 pounds)
F/C - Augustus Gilchrist (Senior, 6-foot-10, 245 pounds)
Bench: Toarlyn Fitzpatrick, Hugh Robertson
The Edge: Kansas
Kansas should and will be heavily favored on Saturday against South Florida, and coming off a performance where head coach Bill Self was less than pleased means the Jayhawks will likely come out and make a statement in front of the home crowd; seeing their time for just the third time this year.
Tyshawn Taylor has received plenty of heat from local and national media over the past couple of weeks, so look for the senior guard to come out and have a productive game on both ends of the court, specifically when it comes to his assist to turnover ratio.
If you are Kansas, getting scoring and quality minutes from players such as Naadir Tharpe, Kevin Young, and Justin Wesley will be key as they stare down what should be an epic battle with the Buckeyes of Ohio State.