Let's get this one out of the way early, question talker style: would the game have been different if Sullinger would have played? Obviously. Would Kansas still have one? I think so. The main reason why I think so is that while Sullinger is a great scorer he is just as elite of a rebounder. But Kansas got dominated pretty bad on the boards anyways, so it's not like they would have been dominated much more with Sullinger. Plus while Robinson had an overall good day (more on that later) he didn't seem to be too into the game in the early going because he was so amped up to face Sullinger and then Sullinger didn't play. So you can't just take the game as is and say "Sullinger playing would have meant Ohio State would have won."
But enough about that, let's get to the game at hand. As I mentioned the most troubling detail was that Kansas got dominated pretty good on the glass. Ohio State grabbed 36% of their own misses, about 10% more than Kansas has allowed on the season. Kansas's 27.3% offensive rebounding rate is under their season percentage, and the only real disappointing part given that it's something they should have taken advantage of with Sullinger out (but then again Robinson didn't really get mentally engaged - I don't think - until the second half).
In the stands I either thought or told the people that I went with that there was no way we were going to keep scoring at that rate about a million times. But we scored 1.11 points per possession and became just the second team to score more than a point per trip against the Buckeyes. The big key was a 67.7% eFG that featured both easy two point shots as well as shooting 53% from three.
Defensively Kansas was great. Ohio State shot just 42.2% from two, 29.4% from three (which I would attribute just to them not being great at threes vs. any great defense we played) and if they hadn't grabbed so many rebounds Kansas could have held the Buckeyes to less than .96 PPP.
The turnover battle was technically won by Ohio State, but in reality I think we can say it was won by Kansas. KU's turnover rate of 25.7% is a bit over their season average, but it's less than what Ohio State forces. And Ohio State turned it over on 21.4% of their possessions, about 6% over their season average. High fives all around for the KU defense in general on that one, with a special high five after the jump:
- Absolutely have to start with Tyshawn Taylor in my opinion. He had a 33.3% turnover rate, which obviously is not good, but I would argue that two of his turnovers were from Robinson and Withey not catching the ball, and another was due to a miscommunication between Elijah and Releford. That would take his turnover total from 7 to 4. If ifs and buts were candy and nuts and all that, but it is something to think about. Secondly, his assist rate was a pretty ungodly 60.4%, and he set a career high in assists with 13. Think about that: Tyshawn Taylor had 13 assists against who many believe to be the best on ball defender in the country. He didn't shoot well, but overall he played a pretty damn good game. Secondly, his defense: Aaron Craft for the season was putting up a 52.9 eFG, a 29.3% assist rate and 20.5% turnover rate. The assists and turnovers were basically a wash: he was above his assist rate by about 2% and same for his turnover rate. But he had just a 40.9% eFG. He also didn't really get much going until the 5 minute mark. Things certainly weren't decided by then but for 35 minutes Tyshawn made him a virtual non-factor. Oh and by the way it was basically on one knee.
- Now that that essay has been written, let's talk about Robinson: he no doubt had to be disappointed that Sullinger wasn't playing and I think it showed in his effort level for awhile. It didn't affect his scoring, as he finished with 21 points, shooting 77.7% no less, and making 7 of his 8 free throws. But it definitely did rebounding wise and especially getting back on defense. And also if someone knows what the heck happened on that technical please let me know because I saw nothing.
- Elijah Johnson was good, and perhaps great, Elijah as he shot 5-7 from three, grabbed two rebounds and played fairly solid defense.
- The real star of the game however might have been Kevin Young. In 24 minutes he scored 14 points on 4-5 shooting from two, and 2-3 from three. He grabbed 4 rebounds and drew two huge charges. He still struggles with on ball defense but he earned himself a boatload of playing time yesterday.