It wasn't pretty, but the Jayhawks pulled out another one. I think that this close call was a little more excusable than the UCLA game for a couple of reasons. Obviously Selby-mania was a bit of a distraction, and the fact that the game was at 11 AM the day after finals made it a bit forgivable that Kansas would struggle through the game a bit. And lastly, the Mario Little fiasco provided yet another distraction.
The negatives are easy to spot, and easy to talk about: Kansas almost allowed a point per possession to USC, and allowed them to shoot 44% from two, 3% higher than their season average. USC's eFG (52%) was higher than Kansas's (45.4%). It was the first time an opponent had outshot Kansas since last year's loss to Oklahoma State.
Still, though Kansas has had rebounding problems recently, they dominated the glass in this one. Though they were a bit under their season average on the offensive glass, they held USC to just a 20% offensive rebound rate, which is roughly 10% better than Kansas has done so far this year.
Though they didn't play great, I take two positives from this game: 1, it is apparent that this team can win when they don't play their best and 2, they can absorb a hot shooting game from an opponent from beyond the arc and still win. Still, the 2010-11 team has a bit of last year's team in them in that they have trouble putting teams away and don't have that killer instinct. Yet.
- We might as well start with the man of the day. Josh Selby had 21 points in his debut, and more importantly did it efficiently. And he did it in a tight game. A 68.1% eFG for a guard is good against a team like Longwood, but to be the team's leader in that stat, as a guard, in a tight game that was surrounded by hoopla and could have ended the nation's longest home winning streak? Let's just say I am in man love. He took a couple ill advised threes, but he was also 5-8 from beyond the arc and when he's feeling it I really have no problem with him shooting it whenever he wants. You also saw on his second time down the floor his ability to break a defender down and get to the basket with ease. Kansas already had a great offense, but once the team gels a bit they are going to be downright scary.
- On the flipside, Tyshawn Taylor had his first bad game of the season, going just 2-7 and turning it over 6 times next to only one assist.
- For (I think) the first time all year, Markieff played more minutes than Marcus. The 11 points were nice, but he shot just 2-7 from two, which is just unacceptable going forward. The eight boards were nice though.
- Marcus, meanwhile, also had 11 points and was kind of right in the middle of efficient and inefficient. Only 4 of 10 shooting from two, but it was the type of thing where if the ball takes just a little different of a bounce, he's 5 or even 6 for 10 from two. He also was 1 for 3 from beyond the arc.
- Thomas Robinson didn't play a ton of minutes, but he made his minutes count. 5-8 from the floor for 10 points, and he also snagged 7 rebounds. I didn't get to watch a lot of the game, so someone who did please enlighten me as to why he only played 16 minutes.
- I don't like to go on and on about moxie and intangibles and what not, but I'm going to for a quick second. Brady Morningstar absolutely pushed that USC kid out of bounds on the last play, but did it in a way that no ref would ever call a foul on it. Those kinds of heady plays where you know how to subtly bump someone or what have you are sometimes the difference between a final four appearance and a second round loss to Northern Iowa.