After preaching all season that our elite offense would take us to the promised land, Kansas is instead apparently determined to impose their defensive will on the NCAA field. They held an Illinois team that had scored 1.13 PPP in terms of adjusted offense over the season to just .89 points per possession. Granted it has only been two games, but so far the theory that defenses improve in March appears to have a leg to stand on. Kansas held the Illini to a 43.3% eFG, and just 43.5% shooting from two. Illinois didn't get the kind of help from beyond the arc that they usually do, but it wouldn't have mattered anyways. Kansas (mostly Tyshawn Taylor, I have to say) held their engine, Demetri McCamey to a 27.7% eFG (regular season = 55.7%) and though he had 7 assists, that went with 4 turnovers. Per usual with this team, Illinois offense came from two usually unused sources: Mike Davis, who takes 18% of their shots when on the floor, and Jeremy Richmond, who though he takes 21% of the shots when on the floor, he plays only 20 minutes per game roughly. Taking away a team's best option and forcing their second and third guys to beat you is a pretty good formula for advancing in the NCAA tournament. Kudos to the coaches for drawing up a good gameplan on short notice and to the guys for executing it.
Offensively the team was good but not great, until you look at the competition, then it gets a bit better. 1.1 PPP is roughly what we did in Big 12 play, which was best in the conference, and we did it against the second best defense in the Big 10. It may not seem like it at first glance, but this was a very good effort on both sides of the ball. And for you purists, they did it without help from the three: Kansas was just 4-12 from beyond the arc (though Tyrel had two that looked down the whole way and just missed. Hopefully he gets it going).
Kansas turned it over on 18.4% of their possessions, just shy of their season average, and equal to what Illinois did. If we can turn it over the same as (or even a little bit more than) our opponent, I like us to win every time out.
It wasn't a great game for offensive rebounding, as both teams were held to about 25%. It seemed a bit like Illinois wanted to limit Kansas's opportunity to run, but Kansas is also very stout in the defensive rebounding area. As for Kansas, they definitely should have grabbed some more, but I'm not going to complain.
And for those of you keeping track: 15/20 from the free throw line.
- Markieff was the star of the show last night, scoring 24 and grabbing 12 rebounds. He also did it with an 80.7% eFG. And he had a team high 3 offensive rebounds.
- Marcus also had a double double, scoring 17 and grabbing 12 rebounds. He did his a bit more inefficiently than Markieff (6-13, all from two) but my philosophy with Marcus has been, and will remain, that he can take whatever shot he wants, whenever he wants it.
- Tyshawn Taylor had 13 points and 4 assists, and was 3-5 from two and 1-1 from three as he apparently is the 3rd sleepy eyed Kansan. Steve Kerr made the great point (that yours truly has been making for awhile) that when Tyshawn gets into the lane and misses a shot he almost should get an assist (ok not really) because it usually is an easy clean up for a big man. Of course it would help if he wouldn't commit his daily charge.
- Brady had 5 points and 6 assists next to 1 turnover, and basically played like Brady Morningstar plays.
- Thomas Robinson only played 11 minutes and scored 4 points and had 3 rebounds, but he made a couple pretty athletic plays. The conspiracy theorist in me wonders if Coach Self purposely isn't letting him show off for NBA scouts too much.
- Josh Selby played pretty well defensively, but offensively we might as well be playing 4 on 5 at this point.