In the meeting in Norman, Oklahoma had a lead at the half, but Kansas used a big second half run to run away with a win. Last night's game followed a similar pattern, with the Jayhawks holding a lead by the slimmest of margins after the first half, but rode a strong second half to end up winning by 22.
The offense, which had struggled for a few games, was at its best last night. Kansas scored 1.2 points per possession, and after shooting nearly 70% from two they have usurped Missouri as the best two point shooting team in the conference. Threes are still an issue, with Kansas shooting just 6-20 from beyond the arc, but if they shoot that well from two they will be very tough to beat indeed.
One troubling factor from last night's game was the offensive rebounding. With all of the missed threes, and Oklahoma's lack of shooting them, Kansas should have done far better on the boards. Oklahoma is the worst defensive rebounding team in the conference, but Kansas managed only a 22.2% offensive rebounding rate. Perhaps they're saving them all for this weekend. We'd better hope so.
The best news from this game was the ability to hang onto the ball. Oklahoma is very sneakily a good team at forcing turnovers (21.5% in Big 12 play, 3rd) but Kansas had just a 17.1% turnover rate. It is tempting to think of Kansas as a team that is careless with the ball considering who some of the primary ballhandlers are, and I admit that when push comes to shove I am guilty of that thinking as well, but the stats don't really bare that out: Kansas now has just a 18% turnover rate in conference play, third best in the league. Granted they haven't played some of their tougher conference games yet, but it is still encouraging. It will be of utmost importance to take care of the ball on Saturday, because Missouri relies on turnovers for points more than perhaps any team in the country (more on that later).
- Thomas Robinson had yet another POY type performance. 20 points (on 9-11 shooting from two) and 17 rebounds. He showed off a baseline jumper early, which helped him score later when he pump faked, and drove the lane for a dunk. He's shooting just 36% on two point jumpers (via Hoop Math) this year, but if he makes a couple early that will at least give the illusion that he can make it more often, and that pump fake-drive will be unstoppable, because his first step is so explosive. He also had maybe his best dunk of the year, which you can see here. (gif via @colbyhall)
- But TRob wasn't the high scorer in this one. That honor goes to Tyshawn Taylor. It is a testament to just how far he has come that I watched him play and wasn't really blown away last night (other than his spin move for the score). For the most part he played within himself and took what the defense gave him. He shot just 2-6 from three but as his three point shooting has fallen off a bit his free throw shooting has taken off again: he went 5-6 last night and is up to 68% from the line.
- Jeff Withey went 4-7 from the field including multiple sweeping hook shots that A. look awful and B. somehow go in. He also went 7-7 from the line (naturally) and is now at 85% for the year. Only one block however, and so he is now back to 3rd in the nation in block percentage.
- Elijah Johnson went 2-6 from three, which isn't good, but is back to contributing in other ways, with 4 assists and 3 steals.
- Travis Releford went 4-4 from two, 1-2 from three and had 6 rebounds. He also had another very good defensive effort on Sooner dynamo Steven Pledger, holding him to 4-11 from two. He made both of his threes to finish up with an eFG near 55%, but neither was Releford's fault. If not for Robinson's great effort, he's probably the player of the game.