Jayhawk Insider: Takeaways from start of Big 12 play

By: Sophie Darting 

The outcome of the Big 12 Conference season opener may not have been what the Jayhawks were hoping for, but there were three major takeaways from the contest that should give KU confidence and momentum moving forward in conference play.
1. They won’t back down.
‘Tough and Together’ has been the Jayhawks’ mantra since head coach Brandon Schneider came to Lawrence. And, it was certainly on display on Saturday afternoon inside Allen Fieldhouse.
After a fairly balanced first half, the Cyclones opened the second half with a 13-3 run, which led to a 21-point lead. At that point in the game, it would have been easy for Kansas to give up and let Iowa State run away with the win, but the Jayhawks started to battle back.
A 23-6 run by the Jayhawks decreased their deficit to five points and the comeback fell just short after the Cyclones netted critical free throws down the stretch to cement their win. However, the fight back showed the Jayhawks their identity as a team.
The way that Kansas continued to fight until the final buzzer did not go unnoticed by the opposing team. During his post game press conference, Iowa State head coach Bill Fennelly commented on the Jayhawks’ relentlessness.
“You’ve gotta give them credit, they competed, made some great shots at times and made it tough. This is going to be a really, really hard place to play. Kansas is going to be great.” 
Sixth year guard Jessica Washington, who leads the team with 15.5 points per game, expressed her pride for the team in her post game interview.
“We’re a different group of girls this year. We didn’t fold today, we showed a lot of grit and toughness and that’s what we’ve been trying to shape our culture as.”
Kansas showed its biggest Allen Fieldhouse crowd of the season (2,790) that they would be a force to be reckoned with during this conference season.  
“Moving forward, we know that we’re a lot better than the past and we’ve got a lot of motivation there.” Washington said.

Kansas on a 7-0 run with 3:31 to play. The Jayhawks aren’t backing down and cut the deficit to 11.#ToughandTogether pic.twitter.com/MFl4TkPKPN

— Kansas Women’s Bball (@KUWBball) January 5, 2019

2. This team can shoot.
The Jayhawks have a senior-heavy squad this season and those seniors have proven to be able to net baskets behind the 3-point line. KU is one of the best teams in the Big 12  from behind the arc and it showed against Iowa State.
During the game against the Cyclones, the Jayhawks shot 50 percent from behind the arch, while also tying their season high with 3-point buckets netted (12). Seniors Kylee Kopatich, Christalah Lyons, Washington, Austin Richardson and Briana Osorio all netted a trey and contributed to all 12 of KU’s 3-point baskets on the day. Kansas’ 12 triples ties the most in a single this season and is the third-most made in a game by KU in program history.
Kansas ranks third in the Big 12 in 3-point field goal percentage (.372) and the 3-point shooting has become one of its most powerful weapons this season.
The seniors are embracing every moment of the season, knowing that this is their last year playing together as a team.
“We belong here, we belong in this league. We’re plenty capable, we just got to fix a few mistakes and be ready for Lubbock,” says Kopatich. “We have a lot of seniors on our team and a lot of us know this will be our last year playing in college, so we want to make the most of it.”

Kansas has made a combined seven shots from long range against the Cyclones. The Jayhawks trail ISU by nine with 4:20 left in the third quarter.#ToughandTogether pic.twitter.com/1IWljR9ivl

— Kansas Women’s Bball (@KUWBball) January 5, 2019

3. KU’s defense is the real deal.
Even though Iowa State left Lawrence with the win, it was not an easy win to secure. The Jayhawks’ defense held up strong against the sharp-shooting Cyclone offense.
Entering the contest, KU was second in the Big 12 in 3-point field goal defense, a stat that proved to be true with the way they handled ISU. The Jayhawks held the Cyclones to two under their average for 3-pointers made. As of late, the Cyclones have been heating up and clicking on all cylinders, but Kansas’ defense stepped up to the task, holding ISU to its lowest offensive output in its last six outings.
Schneider was impressed with the way his team turned up the defense towards the end of the contest.
“We had to pick up our full court pressure and I thought we stirred them up a little bit,” Schneider explained. “We were able to create some opportunities, but we also made shots. Made some big baskets and I think we cut it to five when we got the deflection that went off the official, which was just a tough break. One that if you are going to win games like this against a terrific opponent need to go our way and that one just didn’t go our way.”
Looking ahead to the rest of the conference schedule, Schneider and his squad are not discouraged. If anything, they feel more confident and think they have the momentum they will need going forward to win some tough league contests.

“We are going to compete. We have those kind of kids,” Schneider said. “We’ve got tough, hard-nosed, competitive kids, who have worked really hard to get better. Our kids aren’t going to quit and they won’t let each other.”

Brittany Franklin bringing the toughness down low for the Jayhawks. She has five boards and block so far.#ToughandTogether pic.twitter.com/PUX44PU3EO

— Kansas Women’s Bball (@KUWBball) January 5, 2019

The Jayhawks hit the road for a two-game road tilt at Texas Tech and at Kansas State. Kansas and the Lady Raiders tip off on Wednesday, Jan. 9 at 7 p.m., inside United Spirit Arena. The game can be listened to on the Jayhawk Radio Network.




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