1-3-1 breakdown: Three under-the-radar moments from KU-ISU II
Lagerald Vick's best play on Tuesday didn't even show up on the stat sheet. Today’s 1-3-1 blog explains just how the junior guard got some of his mojo back in KU's 83-77 win in Hilton Coliseum, plus what Marcus Garrett did against Iowa State to excite KU coach Bill Self. If you have any plays or sequences you’d like to see GIFed please tweet @ChasenScott or comment below.
Previous breakdowns can also be found at the bottom of this story.
Play of the game: Just get a stop —
In the midst of a late-game meltdown-that-wasn't-really-a-meltdown that prompted KU coach Bill Self to say his team played like it had never been coached, the Jayhawks were still firmly in control of Iowa State.
Despite missing the front ends of two one-and-ones — and fouling twice the other way — KU led by five with less than 20 seconds remaining. The Jayhawks were a stop away from essentially putting the game on ice.
Here's how the ensuing sequence went down.
Lindell Wigginton dribbled down the court and was picked up by Devonte' Graham. With no Iowa State players in the paint — and thus no KU players guarding them there — there wasn't any back-side help, so Graham had to keep Wigginton in front of him, something that has been a problem for KU guards this year.
Unable to get by Graham, Wigginton passed the ball off to Donovan Jackson, who popped off a Cameron Lard screen at the top of the key. Mitch Lightfoot switched onto Jackson, and Lard pulled Lagerald Vick away to make sure he couldn't help.
It was down to a one-on-one matchup and Lightfoot came out on top.
Lightfoot, who most likely played late-game because of his free throw shooting (82.4 percent on the year) as compared to Udoka Azubuike (41.7), stayed on his toes, bouncing around and taking a small hop back as Jackson faked like he was going to drive.
Jackson stepped back and pulled up for a 3. Lightfoot contested the shot, forcing him into an airball that was rebounded by Lagerald Vick, who passed it right out to Graham.
The Jayhawks were far from perfect in their late-game execution, but on the final sequence, just about everything worked to perfection. And considering some of the woes they've had this season, it certainly was a step in the right direction.
A trend: Bouncing back —
Vick's skid since the start of Big 12 play had been anything but under-the-radar. Yet the junior started to show signs of life against Iowa State that should give fans reason to be optimistic moving forward.
Vick, whose activity level on the court drew criticism from Self — and cost him a spot in the starting lineup — made one of the biggest plays of Tuesday's game being exactly that: active.
With right around seven minutes left and KU up seven, Azubuike blocked a shot by Lard, but the ball bounced right to Wigginton. As the ball slid through Wigginton's hands, Vick pounced, breaking away from his box out of Zoran Talley Jr. and getting the tie up.
And what better way to follow up that play than with another on the other end?
The very next trip down the court, Graham dribbled the ball to his left and passed it off to Vick. Vick, who Self said earlier in the season should exploit mismatches and drive more, turned the corner on Nick Weiler-Babb and exploded to the rim, finishing with a tough lay in over Lard.
While there were plenty of plays to choose from, the final one I've highlighted wasn't as flashy as a basket — or even a jump ball. It was simply the effort that Self has demanded of him all season.
With Weiler-Babb pushing the ball up the court in transition, the KU defense wasn't properly matched up. KU's wings were in the right spots, but Graham wasn't in great position and Lightfoot had to slide over to defend a potential shot at the rim.
With Vick's man, Soloman Young, still well beyond the 3-point line, Vick didn't have any guarding responsibilities. So as Weiler-Babb drove toward the hoop, Vick dropped down from the 3-point line and jumped to rebound the ball — above the rim, the way Self wants.
Vick, who scored 16 points on the day, didn't get the board, but he kept Lard from hauling it in cleanly. The ball ended up in the hands of Malik Newman, and KU took it the other way.
Self was more complimentary of Vick's effort after the game, but he stopped short from a ringing endorsement.
"I actually thought they tried to guard," Self said of Vick and Newman, "and their energy level was better."
Regardless, Vick's play was a welcome sign to KU fans — and at least one former player, too.
"Guys are starting to play better," said guard Sherron Collins, whose jersey will be retired in Allen Fieldhouse next week. "Vick is coming back. He's coming along."
One that stood out: 'A play ... that nobody's made all year' —
Speaking of things that don't show up in the stat sheet, Marcus Garrett is the perfect example of a player who may not post big numbers, but can make a big difference on the court. The Iowa State game was in fact a perfect representation of that idea.
Garrett had only three points, one rebound and one assist against the Cyclones, yet he had a plus/minus of +18, more than three times as high as any other KU player.
(A score of +18 given the final score means the Jayhawks outscored their opponents by 18 points when he was on the floor and were outscored by 12 points when he was off it.)
"He made a play the other night that nobody's made all year," Self said, "nobody's made all year for us."
That play — coming late in the first half — showcased Garrett's high IQ.
Garrett was guarding Jackson on the perimeter. Jackson lobbed the ball to Lard (listed 6-9, 225 pounds) in the post, who started to back down the smaller Lightfoot (listed 6-8, 210).
"(Garrett is) guarding a good offensive player, but he knows exactly how far he should dive," Self said. "He waited for him to bounce it, took it on the first bounce or second bounce."
Garrett watched the ball the whole way and swooped in and made a play on the ball. He wasn't finished, though, sprinting down to the other end of the court in transition in a sequence that eventually led to a Newman 3-pointer.
“He’s not scoring 25 points or getting 10 rebounds or anything like that,” said Graham. “Just the little plays.”
Not bad for a freshman.
1-3-1 breakdown: Baylor 80, KU 64
1-3-1 breakdown: KU 71, TCU 64
1-3-1 breakdown: OSU 84, KU 79
1-3-1 breakdown: KU 70, K-State 56
1-3-1 breakdown: KU 79, TAMU 68
1-3-1 breakdown: OU 85, KU 80
1-3-1 breakdown: KU 70, Baylor 67