On Tuesday night, we saw hopefully the worst of Kansas basketball and a sign of the best of Kansas basketball. Starting with the good, Andrew Wiggins kept the Jayhawks in the game almost on his own in the second half. He wasn't perfect on the night committing 4 turnovers but he made up for it with his 3 point shooting late in the game. It started with two made free throws with 18 minutes left in the half and Kansas trailing by 17. Then a minute later, he hits a three and the team trailed by only 10. Wiggins added 13 more throughout the second half, 11 of those points coming in the last 3 minutes. However, when it felt like the energy and momentum was shifting towards Kansas, Florida would find a way to get a big basket or turnover which repeatedly squashed the tide.
Speaking of turnovers, that was not good. 24 turnovers in a game that had just under 65 possessions and triple the number of turnovers Florida had makes it damn near impossible to win. The first half of this one was as bad as it gets for Kansas basketball. The Gators came out in an extended zone switching between a 1-3-1 and 2-3 look that caused the Jayhawk players all kinds of issues, mainly 16 first half turnovers which allowed Florida to go on a 21-0 run at one point. Players looked like they didn't know where to go and didn't want the ball. Florida didn't really pressure the ball in the first half, instead just extending out in the passing lanes with their arms extended. That made for a very difficult zone to pass through because the defense outnumbered us and forced long passes. Time after time, passes went from one sideline to the other with the same poor results. When penetration was attempted, the dribble was lost. No movement or attacking the seams, it completely threw the young guys off their game.
It's tough to determine how much halftime adjustments changed the game but Kansas did outscore Florida in the second half by 9 points. Was the offense that much better or did the shots simply fall? Without going back through the film, it's tough to say. The energy was quite a bit better but still sputtered due to untimely turnovers. Defensively, the game felt worse than it was in reality. Holding a team to 1.05 points per possession when the ball is turned over 24 times isn't bad at all. However, Kansas couldn't turn Florida over which makes easy baskets hard to come by and this was a game where a couple easy baskets in the first half could have really turned things around. Instead, the team was outscored 28-4 following turnovers. Simply can't win when that happens.
In the end, it was a loss to a good team in a tough environment. This game continued to highlight issues that everyone knew were present. The guys competing for time at point guard have got to step up and get the offense going, especially against the zone. The big men have to find a way to get into the game. The way Florida was extended in the first half, Perry Ellis should have been able to find a seam to get open and have a good look at the basket. Instead, when he did get the ball it was straight to the basket with poor results. Wayne Selden continued to struggle to get in the flow of the game. This list could go on and on after this one, everyone needs to play better.
It's good to have these issues now than in January, lets hope the problems get solved over the next three weeks.