The 2012 (and to a lesser extent, 2013) teams did a lot of winning ugly. They'd come out and play nowhere close to their best and yet somehow squeak out wins against really good teams. This year's team hasn't really done that yet, as they lost the three games they played poorly against good teams (and I'd argue them losing all three of those games had a bit more to do with Kansas than their opponents, but that's another post).
Last night, however, Kansas managed to play not very well and win against a really good team. The difference between last night's effort and the 2012 team was, of course, the final score, but it was still a game in which Kansas played ugly and won by double digits. That's pretty good.
To get the bad stuff out of the way: Kansas allowed 1.15 points per possession against the Rockets. That's not good against anyone, even though Toledo is now 9th nationally in KenPom. Kansas also allowed Toledo to rebound a third of their misses, and they only turned it over on 11.1% of their possessions.
The flip side of that, defensively, is that Toledo shot 9-16 from three. That's going to make the defensive numbers look worse no matter what else happens, and Toledo also made a lot of two point jumpers. Some of it (and we'll address it in the defensive post) is poor closeouts, but some if it is just that there are going to be nights where guys hit jumpers. It happens. The Rockets managed to shoot just 43% from two, about 10% under their season average and under Kansas's season average defensively as well. Toledo also got to the line about half as often as they usually do, so defensively Kansas did a pretty good job of controlling the things they can control.
And, though it was against a poor defensive team, Kansas was otherworldly on offense last night. The Jayhawks scored almost 1.3 points per trip, shot 58% from two, shot 50% from three, and rebounded over half of their misses. And it could have been much worse, as Kansas was 5-11 on layups in the first half, and it's not like they were the types of layups where they were bothered by the defense.
Kansas is now 2nd nationally in shooting inside the arc, and they're getting better from three. And, with Perry Ellis and Joel Embiid inside, all they need are guys who are threats out there to keep teams from double (and triple) teaming as hard as they have recently. The defense needs some work still, especially off the ball, but the offense has gotten to the point where if they can just hold a team to around a point per possession I feel pretty confident that they will win the game.
Naadir Tharpe: 8.5. Tharpe really struggled early with turnovers, but finished with 8 assists to 5 turnovers (not very good, but won't kill you either). He made his mark shooting the ball, going 3-3 from two and 4-5 from three. Tharpe is now shooting 43% from three on the year, best on the team. His defense was subpar, however.
Andrew Wiggins: 8.5. I still don't get the "Wiggins isn't aggressive" thing. He has the highest usage rate and takes the most shots on the team. And some of them, like his foot on the line 2 pointer, are bad shots. I don't know if people expect him to drive through four guys and dunk every possession, but that's not who he is. He is really good at getting his shots in the flow of the offense, and he's shown the ability to take over when he needs to. He was 6-10 from two and 1-4 from three last night, and made all 5 of his free throws. The bad part of his night last night was the 3 turnovers (and the couple ill advised jumpers) but he had 5 rebounds and, after a couple rough outings defensively, played really well on that end of the floor.
Perry Ellis: 9. Ellis went 8-14 from two last night, which brought his 2 pt% down, and grabbed 11 rebounds (6 offensive). He missed a couple bunnies (and free throws) but he showed that he's back and fully healthy, which would have been enough for me even without the good performance. I'll have to do a bigger post on this sometime, but I don't remember a KU post player who is better at getting good position down low.
Joel Embiid: 9. Embiid, like Ellis, shot well from two (5-9) and lowered his 2 pt%. He also had 10 rebounds and 3 blocks. Kansas hasn't been a great rim protecting team this year, but teams aren't taking a lot of shots at the rim this year, no doubt due to being intimidated by Embiid's presence.
Wayne Selden: 5. After a nice game against Georgetown, Selden was fairly invisible last night. He was 2-4 from two and 1-3 from three, which is great, but had 4 turnovers, just 2 rebounds, and was horrible defensively. On the ball he's been adequate, but he gets lost on screens and in defensive rotations as much as anyone I've seen this year. The good news is he can only get better (we hope) and that should make KU's defense as a whole better.
Frank Mason: 7. I was surprised to see Mason with 7 assists to just 1 turnover. Some of it was when the game started to quicken up later in the game, but his numbers looked better than I thought. The problem when just Mason is in the game, as I said last night, is that nothing really happens with the offense when it's him running the show. He's great at getting in the lane, but he doesn't run the offense as well as Tharpe, and he's not nearly the shooting threat Tharpe is.
I'm not going to give Traylor, Black or Greene ratings, but Tarik Black showed off his offensive rebounding chops despite playing pretty poor defense (his numbers are going to look ugly on the scoresheet). I also continue to find it frustrating that Greene, White, and Frankamp don't get much playing time. I'm not saying they're world beaters (and to be fair I don't know about White's health status) but I don't think Kansas can do what it wants to do only giving meaningful playing time to 6 guys.