Kansas guard Rush peaking at right time
LAWRENCE, Kan. - Brandon Rush is hitting his offensive stride when No. 6 Kansas needs it most.
The Jayhawks' sophomore guard, the Big 12 preseason co-player of the year, is coming off his first back-to-back 20-point games of the season as Kansas prepares to host No. 10 Texas A&M on Saturday.
After that come matchups against the Jayhawks' top rivals: Kansas State at home on Wednesday, and a trip to Missouri on Feb. 10.
"He's being more aggressive, and he's making shots. Let's call it like it is," coach Bill Self said yesterday. "He's making more shots, shooting a better percentage. Since we've gotten into league play, I think he's played quite well."
Brandon Rush, Kansas' leading scorer at 14.3 points per game and 16.4 points in conference games, has averaged 19.6 points in the Jayhawks' last three games, all victories.
"Brandon's in a rhythm now," guard Russell Robinson said. "He's taking great shots and just letting the ball come to him."
That approach is showing up in the box scores, and not just in Brandon Rush's scoring lines. After shooting 50 percent or better in only two of Kansas' first 10 games, he has done it nine times in the last 12.
"I just think he's a little more confident, seeing the ball go in the hole," Self said. "We've said it many times: Shooting's a thing you can't always control. You can put a pretty good stroke on a putt and not have it go in, and sometimes basketball's the same way."
The shots have felt fine leaving his hand all year, Brandon Rush said. It was when they got close to the rim that everything went bad in Kansas' early games.
"Everything looked good," he said. "They were just rimming out, hard bricks, air balls, any kind of miss possible."
The low point came Dec. 2, when Brandon Rush shot 1 for 7 and scored three points in a 64-57 loss at DePaul, and his struggles were magnified by the lofty preseason expectations.
"It made it a little bit worse," he said. "I had fans, people telling me I wasn't living up to all the preseason things. I still kept my head up, talked to Coach, and he told me to keep my head in the game and keep shooting it."
The message had to be repeated, Self said.
"We talked about that quite often," Self said. "We reminded him of that many times."
With four players averaging in double figures, Kansas' scoring balance has kept opponents from being able to key solely on Brandon Rush. He still draws plenty of defensive attention, though.
"Defenses can take away certain things, so he has to be prepared," Self said. "He may only get six or seven good looks a game, and then he's going to have to go create some things on his own. Since we've started league play, even though he may not have been making them all, he's been shooting the shots we want him to shoot."
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