• That was a tough win last night. OU refused to give up, and we have to hand it to the Sooners for sticking around and giving us a tough challenge on this special night, the night we captured 10-consecutive Big 12 regular season championships.

    Once again, it seems impossible to recognize just one Jayhawk for this award. So I’ll award all those Jayhawks who played a key role in this victory… our entire starting 5!

    Naadir Tharpe is my overall top pick in this game. He settled in well and kept control of this game for the time he played. Foul trouble limited his minutes to 26, but he was able to make the largest impact on the game in those 26 minutes. Naadir controlled the pace of the game, which sometimes started to get away from us, especially in the second half when we started to get impatient and rush shots. And most of all, Naadir stepped up on many occasions to hit key shots that kept up in the game on both the scoreboard and from a confidence perspective. Naadir managed to quietly become the top scorer of the game with 19 points and he created all those points on only 7 shots. He kept pushing our offense without turning the ball over, with an A/TO ratio of 5-to-1. Naadir also hustled for two steals in a game where possession count was extremely important.

    Perry Ellis is my second runner-up. Perry’s stats didn’t support him in this slot, but Perry had several key hustle plays that we aren’t used to seeing from Perry, including going down on the court a couple of times for 50/50 balls. Perry scored 11 points, 4 rebounds and had 2 assists (one was superb to Black for a two-and-one) and a block. He managed his stats in only 24 minutes of play.

    Joel Embiid, in many ways, is almost a shoe-in for winning this award every game. The Big 12 Championship may go through Lawrence, but each individual game goes through Joel Embiid. He made the difference on the boards, snatching up 13 rebounds. He went for 12 points, 3 assists, 4 steals (that’s right… 4!) and 3 blocks! As the season progresses we are witnessing JoJo’s will in games. His desire to win is shining through and he has become a silent leader with his control of the game.

    It has taken almost the entire season, but finally it appears that Wayne Selden Jr. has found his role and identity on this team. We already know of his role for being scrappy… going after 50/50 balls regardless if they are rolling on the court or flying out of bounds in row 3. But now Wayne seems to understand of his need to create offense, and he is doing it both by the long ball and driving into the paint. His 3 3-pt baskets always seem to come at the right time, giving us a big lift on points and spirit. He is also continuing to improve his defense considerably. As the season has progressed, Wayne seems to inch closer and closer to his defensive assignment… and without getting in foul trouble.

    Andrew Wiggins continues to show his hustle in his typical acrobatic ease. Many might say he went through a small rut in this game as his shot started to clink off the rim. But he later found ways to be effective… by drawing fouls and scrapping for his own rebound and put back. Andrew captured at least 2 50/50 balls in this game without acquiring a floor burn. Possessing the ball is what matters in the end on a loose ball. The one area where Andrew needs to improve most is finding open players to pass to when he has the ball. He had no assists in this game, and he should have produced several from some of his drives. Part of that equation is having someone open to pass to, and other Jayhawks need to fight to get open while Andrew drives the ball and stop taking for granted he will shoot the ball. Especially all our 3-pt marksmen need to pop open.

    Honorable mention goes to our “bruise brothers”… Jamari Traylor and Tarik Black. These guys helped keep us in the game, allowing our other post players to rest or sit because of foul trouble. Last year, Jamari had little or no offensive skills… this year, he is showing us how capable he is in the post. He needs to take more shots because he has freakish speed in the post, perhaps one of the fastest post players in the country on a scoring move. Tarik brings heart and soul every game, and also plays a symbolic role as the spiritual leader of this team.

    Conference Season Tally:

    Wayne Selden 7

    Andrew Wiggins 6

    Joel Embiid 5

    Tarik Black 4

    Perry Ellis 4

    Naadir Tharpe 4

    Frank Mason 2

    Brannen Greene 1

    Landen Lucas 1

    Conner Frankamp 1

    Jamari Traylor 1

    Andrew White III 1

    Justin Wesley 1

    Evan Manning 1

    Niko Roberts 1

    Christian Garrett 1

  • I love it when guys are scrambling on the floor for loose balls, but I cringe and say a prayer when EmBiid is down there.

  • Selden is quickly becoming a favorite. At the start of the season he was very reserved and business like and now, he is playing more relaxed and seems to be enjoying the game; his reaction in the Texas games is a classic. Maybe by the end of the season he will be this team’s version of Kevin Young.

  • @drgnslayr love your picks! Want to add to it. Greene had some valuable minutes, I like him! Wasn’t sure what he did on that free throw. Even though we sat in the nosebleed section, I thought the refs were awful, felt like they were jr high refs! Don’t know if it’s been mentioned, the band was playing, “Hey Jude” while Tharpe was being interviewed. Couldn’t figure out why til they got to, na na na na na na na… Awesome!!!

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