The Kansas Jayhawks should thank their lucky stars that they can win some games in the NCAA Tournament without their star playing well. Kansas was able to topple the North Carolina Tar Heels in the third round thanks to Jeff Withey being a monster and Travis Releford having a game to remember. However, if Kansas wants to keep winning they will need more out of Ben McLemore.
Sure, the freshman is on everyone’s NBA lottery board, but he is vanishing from games like a magician. It has been the only consistent from McLemore in an inconsistent season. If on the road, McLemore will struggle. Unfortunately for he and Kansas, none of the tournament games happened to be played on their home-court.
Kansas did not really need McLemore to be special in their opening game of the big dance. The Jayhawks were the one seed, but struggled to beat Western Kentucky. A lot of that has to do with McLemore only providing a whopping 11 ugly points in the game. While troublesome, Kansas survived and advanced.
Then McLemore had an abomination of a game against North Carolina. Getting only two points from your supposed star player is a sure fire way to get bounced in the dance, although his teammates did enough to carry the slack. Again, Kansas did more surviving in that game than advancing.
The (relatively) easy road for the Jayhawks is now over. The Michigan Wolverines are awaiting Kansas in an intriguing Sweet Sixteen match-up. If Bill Self even wants to have a chance to compete, he will need a better version of McLemore to show up. Scoring a few uninspiring points will not be enough to help Kansas advance.
There is no more surviving for Kansas. If they want to make it to the Elite Eight they are going to have to earn their way in. Even more so, if the Jayhawks even want to make the game competitive, McLemore is going to have to do more than just bring his body to the game — he is going to have to actually use it, and use it well.
Joe is a Senior Writer for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @JosephNardone