To be honest, I'm not sure we really learned anything about this year's Kansas team. True they fought through some adversity on the road and won a tight game while not playing their best. But if there is one thing I knew about this team already, it's that they could win without playing their best. It certainly wasn't pretty, as the game was only 74 possessions worth including the overtime period. And it certainly wasn't very offensive (well it was in one way, but not on the scoreboard): Kansas held Michigan to .81 PPP, and only scored .9 themselves. To put it another way, if this was their season averages, Kansas would rank 257th in the country and Michigan 342nd. It was a rough game to watch.
Somehow in the past few weeks, Kansas has gone from offensive juggernaut to impenetrable wall on defense. Kansas now sits 11th in offensive efficiency and 1st in defensive. I have long said that great offense beats great defense in the tournament, but there is no question that Bill Self would rather be here than vice versa. Some of today's defensive success was thanks to the Wolverines, who shot just 4-28 from the outside. Still, Kansas played suffocating defense pretty much across the board, and held Michigan to just 49% from two.
Also of note: Kansas's rebounding was not good. They let Michigan get 27.9% of its misses, which is slightly better than Michigan's season average, but with the size advantage it should have been much higher. Kansas was below their season average in offensive rebounding, grabbing just under 30% of their misses.
Kansas also had their worst offensive game of the year, being held under 1 PPP for the first time all year. They also had just a 39.3% eFG, though most of that was due to their 16.7% mark from three. But I am not too worried about it because unlike Michigan most of those were due to simply missing shots rather than being unable to get good shots off. I would expect them to get much closer to their season average of 38% in the future.
The ugly player notes after the jump:
- To start with the positives, it was a really nice game for Tyshawn Taylor. 3-6 from two and 5-6 from the line, and although he turned it over 4 times, one of those was Selby's fault for not catching a pass, and a couple of the others were aggressive mistakes, which he's going to make. We just have to live with it. He also had 4 assists and 6 rebounds and when the game was close he really asserted himself, getting into the lane fairly easily. I see a lot of Sherron Collins in him, both good and bad.
- Hey hey the Morri stayed out of foul trouble! Just two each, and they were able to play 39 and 35 minutes respectively. Marcus had the better day raw numbers wise, with 22 points and 10 rebounds, though it was inefficiently done: 8-15 from two and 0-3 from three. Not terrible but I expect more out of the All-American. He did go 6-7 from the line however. Markieff had a much more efficient day, getting his 13 on 3-5 shooting from two and 1-2 from three. Kieffer also had 11 boards.
- Thomas Robinson had a rough day in his first game back after the passing of his grandmother, which is to be expected: he played just 9 minutes and scored 1 point. He did continue to prove that he is an elite rebounder though, grabbing 5 boards in those 9 minutes. In the end he just wasn't a good fit out there today with Michigan's perimeter forwards.
- Josh Selby had his worst game as a collegian, going just 1-10 from the field (1-7 from three) for an eFG of 15%. To look on the bright side, he did have four assists and I think had the best defensive game he's had all season. I also liked, to a point, that he kept being aggressive and taking his shot when it was there.
- Tyrel Reed was just 2-9 from three, but made all his free throws, including a couple key ones down the stretch.
- Hopefully Travis Releford recovers from his injury, and I expect we'll be seeing Mario Little again soon.