Last night the Jayhawks came out sluggishly, confirming everyone's fears that that might happen, but turned it on in the second half, outscoring the Red Raiders by 20, and ending up with a 91-63 victory in the Big 12 Tournament opener. The Jayhawks scored 1.28 points per possession and posted an eFG of 75.5%, the second best output of the Bill Self era. (h/t to Jesse Newell on that stat). Oddly enough, the two best shooting efforts of the Self era have been this year with a relatively poor offense (comparatively speaking) but it does go to the thought that when they play well they can be a top 5 offense.
Defensively Kansas allowed .89 points per possession and allowed them to shoot 42% from two. The Jayhawks forced turnovers on 26.8% of the Red Raiders' possessions, which was a big part of driving their offense. While they have struggled with turnovers themselves a lot, I would much prefer a wide open game with a lot of turnovers (both ways) than a walk it up slow down game because of how much this team struggles at times to score in the half court (then again, they defend so well in the half court that maybe it is advantageous to play that way. The lesson, as always, is that it depends on the matchup).
Kansas has a pretty big advantage for today and (hopefully) Saturday: They got a virtual walk through yesterday and were able to rest some starters, while Iowa State had a tough game against Oklahoma and if they win today, either Oklahoma State or Kansas State will have had two tough (or toughish) games to get to the championship game. As for Iowa State, the Cyclones certainly matchup as well as anyone with Kansas, but playing them now is a good thing. They approximate the playing style of a stereotypical 15 seed who relies on threes and if the Cyclones start off hot it will teach the Jayhawks some adversity to react to in preparation for the tournament.
- Ben McLemore was aggressive again, and efficient as well: he went 4-4 from two and 4-8 from three for 24 points on just 12 field goal attempts. He did play 32 minutes so he could stand to perhaps shoot even more, especially when he is on like that, but I'm not going to blame him for backing off in a blowout.
- Travis Releford had 5 assists and 2 steals, but only took 5 shots. Again, it is tolerable when it happens in a blowout, but when Kansas gets in closer games he needs to shoot more.
- Speaking of, Withey only took 3 shots, and made them all of course, and also was 3-3 from the line. He added 3 blocks. Three's Company.
- Perry Ellis had a strong game with 8 points and 7 rebounds. He still isn't good at finishing inside, but he's added a nice jumper and is rebounding really well. Even if his offensive game doesn't progress he should be a well above average rebounder and defender, and I think his offense will progress, which means he has a chance to be a star.
- Rio Adams offered up his campaign for more playing time next season, scoring 11 points on 4-5 shooting in just 5 minutes.
- Andrew White was 2-3 from three, and if he has some confidence in his shot he can perhaps be a weapon off the bench in the tournament.