Yet another game where Kansas might not have deserved the win, and tried their damnedest to give it away, but toughed out a squeaker to move on to face North Carolina in the elite 8. It was, in the words of Yogi Berra, deja vu all over again, as NC State had a heave at the end of the game and then a three to try to tie it, but it fell short as Kansas escaped. Again I think Kansas should have fouled, and this one would have been easier as the NC State player made the catch going away from the basket and had to turn around to give a heave. Fortunately for all of us he missed a wide open Scott Wood who was standing just a few feet away.
In what must have been the worst offensive game I have ever seen (hyperbole alert!), neither team cracked even .9 points per possession, with Kansas scoring .896 and NC State at .851 points per trip. Though Kansas had a slightly better eFG than NC State, that didn't mean they had a great night, as their eFG was just 38.3% and according to the KU shot chart referenced by Coach Self in the postgame they made just two shots outside of 5 feet. One of them was a big three by Elijah Johnson to open the second half, but it was KU's only bucket from deep, as they finished just 1-14 from three.
KU shot ok from two (46%), and were great on the offensive glass (43.5%), but gave up an astounding number of offensive rebounds as well, allowing the Wolfpack to grab 41.2% of their misses. To be fair to Kansas on this one though, Withey was going for (and getting) a lot of blocks, which takes him out of position, and as good of a defensive rebounder as Robinson is he can't be expected to nab every rebound.
The pessimist can point to KU's subpar offense lately as a sign that we are most assuredly doomed in the Elite 8, but the optimist can point to the fact that KU hasn't gotten it going and won three games, two of which most certainly would have been losses by a number of teams in the past. The best (and worst) part is that I have no idea whether they will come out firing from the start against North Carolina or if they will get blown out. But if it makes you feel better, they had to withstand a three at the buzzer from a North Carolina team wearing red the preceding game the last time they faced UNC as well.
- Thomas Robinson didn't have the best night from an efficiency standpoint, going just 7-17, and there were times when he didn't have great effort on defense (such as the beginning of the game), he finished with 18 points and 15 rebounds, being seemingly the only guy on the floor who wanted to grab a defensive rebound at times. He will have to be a lot a lot a lot a lot better against John Henson though.
- Tyshawn went 2-8 from two, 0-6 from three, had 5 assists and 5 turnovers. He did grab 10 rebounds, but after missing a big free throw down the stretch the thought that creeped into my head moreso than the depression over a loss was the horrible feeling that Tyshawn's last game would be that bad. Thankfully it wasn't and he has a chance to end it with a final four berth.
- We are witnessing the berth of a star in Elijah Johnson. He went 1-3 from three and 4-5 from two, showing an increasing ability to take the ball to the hoop. He had a meh game rebounds, assists and steals wise, but played really good defense on the perimeter.
- What more is there to say about Jeff Withey? The big man blocked 10 shots and changed probably double that, and completely took NC State's big men out of it. Who would have thought that in a John Henson - Jeff Withey matchup that Withey would be the better shot blocker?
- Kevin Young gave 13 energetic minutes, going 2-3, grabbing 3 rebounds and blocking a shot.