Three Kansas players scored in double figures and accounted for all but six points in an emotionally charged win against Villanova over the weekend.
The scoring imbalance reflected the offensive limitations the No. 1 Jayhawks confront.
Although Bill Self knew the unevenness offensively would dominate storylines, the Kansas coach was impressed nonetheless by a contributor who struggled to score.
"We have Marcus Garrett,'' Self said. "We get four steals and he gets all four of them. He guards (Eric) Paschall and does an unbelievable job on him with the size (differential). It was just a great, great team win.''
Offensively, the Jayhawks (9-0) might tread a fine line as long as 7-foot junior center Udoka Azubuike is sidelined with a sprained ankle.
His absence prompted the promotion of Garrett, a 6-5 sophomore guard, into the starting lineup. As the Jayhawks' top defender, Garrett's role is to shut down opponents' top threats.
That responsibility, as well as the free-wheeling artistry of primary scorers Dedric Lawson and Lagerald Vick, will be displayed again Tuesday when Kansas greets South Dakota at Lawrence, Kansas.
"(Garrett) is a good player. If he had a consistent stroke, he would be our best player,'' Self added. "I mean, all-around player. He can play and he's got fast hands and he's tough and does all the right things.''
Although the win over Villanova was the third against a ranked opponent and boosted the Jayhawks' home winning streak to 39 when ranked No. 1, Self stated from the outset of the season Kansas must continually improve on defense.
Unsung contributors such as Garrett and backup forward Mitch Lightfoot provide defensive pick-me-ups, especially since it is imperative Lawson (20.1 points per game) and Vick (17.7) stay out of foul trouble.
"When you look at the stat sheet, (Garrett) only had one point (against Villanova),'' said Lawson, a junior forward. "But he does so much for this team. He's so valuable to us. Things like that really don't go unnoticed in my eyes.''
South Dakota (6-5) faces a quick turnaround after winning Sunday at Colorado State, 68-63.
Senior forward Trey Burch-Manning leads the Coyotes in scoring (13.5) and rebounding (7.1), while also recording team highs for steals (20) and 3-point field goals (17).
Ten Coyotes have averaged at least 10 minutes for first-year coach Todd Lee. Sophomore guard Stanley Umude came off the bench to lead South Dakota with 15 points against Colorado State.
In the preseason Summit League poll, the Coyotes were picked to finish second behind reigning champion South Dakota State.
Last week, South Dakota announced 6-10 senior center Tyler Hagedorn will miss the season with a medial plantar fascia tear. The injury prevented Hagedorn, an All-Summit League second-team pick last season, from playing this season. The South Dakota staff had hoped Hagedorn could make his season debut at Kansas, but the decision to redshirt could eventually be a plus.
"It will give Tyler another year with our system, another year with his teammates,'' Lee said. "While it is disappointing for this year, we are excited to have Tyler back next year and leading our program.''