NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 15: Thomas Robinson #0 of the Kansas Jayhawks shoots over Terrence Jones #3 of the Kentucky Wildcats during the 2011 State Farms Champions Classic at Madison Square Garden on November 15, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Though Kansas was tied at halftime, only a small part of me believed they'd end up winning the game and they proved me correct with a disastrous start to the second half that saw Kentucky stretch it out to a 51-37 lead in the first 10 minutes of the second half.
Let's start with the positives: First off, Kansas really bossed things on the glass, which was surprising to me given their terrible effort against Towson and also how it seemed Kentucky was dominating the glass for large stretches. But the Jayhawks allowed Kentucky to grab under a fourth of their own misses while Kansas grabbed 35% of the offensive rebounds available.
Secondly, Kansas allowed Kentucky only 1.03 PPP based in large part on their ability to force turnovers. Granted a lot of it had to do with Kentucky's inexperience but they turned it over on 26% of their possessions while the Jayhawks only turned it over on 19.2% of theirs. If they can replicate that for the rest of the year this team is going to win a lot of ball games.
Last positive note: Kentucky shot 46.7% from three while Kansas shot only 26.7%. Both are pretty fluky (maybe fluky's not the right word, but their unsustainable. Though Kentucky's three point shooting being sustainable or not doesn't concern me so I'm going with fluky). If each team shot closer to its true talent this game could have shaken out a lot differently and been much closer.
Sadly, even though I'm going to spend less time discussing them, the negatives probably outweigh the positives. Kansas only semi avoided early foul trouble (Robinson did well early but still fouled out, Withey had a couple quick ones early, etc.). Granted some of the calls were pretty ticky tack, but at some point a major college basketball player has to recognize that and adjust.
Next, one of my main keys to the game was running half court sets and making Kentucky run half court sets. It seemed like every time they made Kentucky run a play in the half court they turned it over or had to settle for a semi-guarded mid range jumper, but all too often they were content to run up and down with the Wildcats and play AAU style basketball. This team won't be beating some other Big 12 teams playing that type of ball, much less Kentucky.
Player notes after the jump:
- Tyshawn had probably the best game on the night. Though he only was 2-11 from two he made 1 of his 2 threes and a pretty incredible 15 of 17 free throws. Last night proved he can get into the lane against anyone, but finishing against the type of length Kentucky has inside is difficult. Him being able to get into the lane and draw fouls and/or be able to dish it to TRob and Withey is key for the offense this year.
- Speaking of Withey, the big man more than held his own, going 3-4 from the field, grabbing 3 offensive and 3 defensive rebounds and blocking 4 shots. If last night's Withey is the real Withey I'll be very happy.
- Conner Teahan made 2 of his 5 threes, and though he struggled in most every other facet of the game, I think we all know what we're getting with him on the floor.
- Thomas Robinson grabbed 12 rebounds (which is about 8 more than I remember him grabbing) but struggled a bit offensively, going just 5-12 from the floor and only getting to the line once. He also committed a couple of pretty bad turnovers and fouled out. He won't see anyone as long defensively this year, but he's definitely going to see a lot of double and triple teams and his passing/decision making needs to get a lot better.
- Not that it mattered but I am pretty surprised that Wesley is getting the bulk of the backup big man minutes and Young is relegated to being a bench guy. Young was a lot better at his previous school and looks like he's actually one of our better athletes, so that is definitely perplexing to me.
- Elijah had a team high 4 assists and only turned it over once but struggled to get his shot and overall did not look very good.
Player of the game?
Thomas Robinson (13 votes)
Jeff Withey (84 votes)
Tyshawn Taylor (66 votes)
Other (12 votes)
175 total votes