Whoops. Let's dispense with some misnomers immediately: this game wasn't the fault of the defense. Davidson shot 50% from two, which shouldn't happen, and scored 1.08 points per trip, but that is when you factor in the free throws at the end that Kansas was forced into. Taking out those free throws and Kansas held Davidson to just under a point per possession. Granted that's still not stellar defense, but at some point the offense needs to win a game for us. A 45.2% eFG vs. a team like Davidson is criminally bad, and while the optimist would note that we only turned it over on 18.9% of our possessions, that is exactly Davidson's average on the year, and it is good for 274th in the country.
Kansas got to the line a lot more than Davidson, and when their leading scorer and best player De'Mon Brooks fouled out it looked like it was going to be enough, but they shot just 58.1% from the line. Getting to the line in and of itself isn't a big deal, but I did note during the first game of the year that our free throw shooting was going to be a bigger deal than it has been over the last few years because of how much our offense would struggle at times.
The two areas the defense did have some troubles was forcing turnovers and rebounding: Davidson coughed it up on just 16.2% of their trips (though they aren't a terrible team in that regard and Kansas isn't great at forcing them) and managed to grab 28.2% of their misses. Davidson took half of their field goal attempts from beyond the arc, which artificially inflates their offensive rebounding percentage a bit, but given the Jayhawks' ability on the defensive glass this year I was rather disappointed by the effort from everyone not named Thomas Robinson.
This game probably doesn't change much in terms of the season long outlook for KU fans: I still expect a three way battle for the Big 12 title with Missouri and Baylor, and this team still has a Final Four upside but is most likely a Sweet 16 team. The 2009 comparisons seem even more apt now, however: you'll remember Kansas lost to a UMass team that was even worse than this Davidson team in Kansas City, and they rode tough defense and poor (by KU's standards) offense to within a couple plays from the Elite 8.
- Thomas Robinson quietly actually had a pretty poor game offensively. He did score 21 points to lead Kansas, but shot 38.8% from the field (all from two) to do so. He got to the line a fair amount but went just 7-12. It obviously wasn't a complete disaster as he grabbed 18 rebounds (42% defensive rebounding rate!) but add it all up and his offensive rating was just 93.5
- Tyshawn didn't really have a good game in his first action back (though he played very well in spurts): he shot 50% from two, 20% from three and was just 6-11 from the free throw line. He had 7 assists but also 5 turnovers, and struggled to stay in front of his man defensively. Again, I'm not in the habit of publicly second guessing HCBS, but I wouldn't have played him last night.
- Elijah Johnson was the best facilitator on the floor last night, with 6 assists and just 1 turnover. He shot 3-10 from three but I think that's something we might have to live with over the next couple years, as we've seen that he's a guy who really needs freedom in order to play well.
- The best player last night was probably Travis Releford. He had only 8 points but was aggressive going to the basket, made 2 of his 3 twos and 4 of his 7 free throws. He also had 6 rebounds and 4 steals on defense.
- Conner Teahan: disaster
- Jeff Withey was 4-6, had 4 rebounds and a pair of blocks, but for some reason landed himself in Bill Self's doghouse, playing just 16 minutes. I'm just a lowly blogger and not a national championship winning head coach but I think he would have been nice to have when Robinson was struggling to get his shot to fall and obviously fatigued.