McLemore amidst the Madness

Can Ben McLemore play like he’s at home in the tourney?

By Dylan Gehlbach

McLemore scored 36 points against West Virginia on Saturday Credit: (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

McLemore scored 36 points against West Virginia on Saturday
Credit: (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

To the students at the University of Kansas, Ben McLemore is Superman.

And why shouldn’t he be? He is easily one of the top three players in the Big 12. He leads the Jayhawks scoring 16.6 points each game. McLemore could be the number one pick in the NBA draft. He rains threes. And he can dunk. Man, can he dunk.

With his electric style of play, McLemore leaves the fans in Allen Fieldhouse screaming. But that’s at Allen Fieldhouse, and there lies the problem.

When it has come down to big games on the road, McLemore has not shown up like he has at home.

For example, McLemore scored 23 points at home against Oklahoma State, but he only scored seven points when the Jayhawks traveled to Stillwater. He went 0-8 shooting in the first half of that game. McLemore scored 33 points, including a game-tying shot at the buzzer, at home against Iowa State, but again only scored seven points when the Jayhawks visited the Cyclones.

This would be much less of a concern if these road games were earlier in the season. The problem is McLemore had his better performances earlier in the season. The poor performances against the Cowboys and the Cyclones have come in the last two weeks.

This is unnerving for Kansas fans. The hope for freshmen players is that they are used to a hostile atmosphere by the end of the year, but this has not proven to be true for McLemore. It could be argued that his poor performances were only due to the pressures of the important games. Either way, the games won’t be getting any easier, and they won’t be at home.

Honestly, it may not be an issue at all. If it a hostile atmosphere that is throwing McLemore, that isn’t a problem. After the Jayhawks’ upcoming game in Waco against Baylor, the rest of KU’s game will be in neutral atmospheres. As long as McLemore can show half of the talent he’s displayed at home this year, he will still contribute mightily to this KU team.

But if Kansas wants to make it to the Final Four for the second year in a row, someone will have to be making shots for them down the road. Despite Elijah Johnson’s epic shooting performance in Ames, the McLemore that Jayhawk fans have seen all year at home is the guy that should have the ball at the end of games.

We will quickly find out if McLemore has the kind of talent that can win games in March Madness. If he doesn’t, KU fans might not remember Ben McLemore as much of a Superman as they do now.

 

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