I wasn't worried about Kansas, given that they had suffered only single-digit, semi-fluky losses and had crushed everyone else, but it was still nice to see me nail a game in terms of what I thought would happen. Kansas scored 1.365 points per possession, a season high, and only slightly off their best mark ever under Bill Self (1.493 PPP). Pretty good for an offense people had criticized going up against a defense people had praised.
Some of it was due to three point luck, as Kansas shot 8-18 from beyond the arc, but the Jayhawks got everything they wanted inside as well, shooting 61.5% inside the arc. Even with as much as the defense struggled at times, it's going to be tough to beat a team who shoots above 60% from two. Elsewhere offensively, Kansas committed turnovers on just 11% of its possessions, and didn't turn it over once in the first half.
Defensively there were good things and bad things. The Jayhawks allowed K State to grab only 22% of its misses, and held Marcus Foster, who for some reason was being mentioned in the same book as guys like Wiggins and Embiid, nevermind the same sentence, to 3-12 shooting. Still, Kansas allowed the Wildcats to shoot 54% from two, though they did block 6 shots. Defensive rotations have been an issue all year, and they remained an issue on Saturday. At some point I'll do a post on where they're going wrong and how to improve them, but if you watched the game Fran Fraschilla did a good job of highlighting a missed rotation by Perry Ellis that led to a layup. The perimeter defense got a bit better, but it's still leading to too many open looks.
Fortunately Kansas State couldn't exploit that, but tonight's opponent can. Iowa State and Kansas are pretty similar statistically, but the Jayhawks have done it against a higher quality slate of opponents. Still, the Cyclones rank 1st in two point offense for a reason, so Kansas needs to hedge and rotate well tonight.
Wayne Selden: 9. Another excellent effort from Selden, who gives the Jayhawks an extra dimension on offense when he's going. He got to the rim effectively and shot 3-5 from three. He also added four rebounds and three assists, though he did turn it over three times as well.
Naadir Tharpe: 8.5. Tharpe struggled defensively, and didn't make any of his 5 threes, but he also had 9 assists and 0 turnovers, so he gets a pass (punny!) for the shooting woes.
Andrew Wiggins: 9. Wiggins stifled Marcus Foster defensively, made 3 of 4 threes, and was 5-6 from the line. He also had 5 rebounds and 2 assists, and they even let him post up and run the pick and roll. Funny how that led to him scoring points.
Perry Ellis: 8. Ellis was "just" 6-11 from two, but had 3 offensive rebounds (5 total) and a block. I also thought that, missed rotations aside, he played stout defense.
Joel Embiid: 8.5. Embiid again played well inside defensively, and added 11 points and 9 rebounds. Oh, and on just 4 shots. A quick note on his ejection: while I definitely don't condone punching or elbowing people in the face, no matter how chippy things get, there's no doubt that this team needed some toughness and needed an edge. It's not that the team doesn't play hard, but it's almost like they need a challenge before they deploy max effort, and that's killed them four times this year. They can afford to lose again, but they can't afford to lose like that, so kudos to Embiid for helping to give them an edge.
Jamari Traylor: 8. Traylor went from a guy who I can't imagine why he would ever get playing time to one of my favorite players on the team. He had a really nice assist to Tarik Black, had a blocked shot, went 2-2 from the field, and has quietly turned himself into a 75% free throw shooter.
Tarik Black: 7. Another game of foul trouble for Black, but this time they were spaced out enough to allow him to go 2-3 from the field, grab 4 rebounds, block 2 shots, and return the favor to Traylor with a sweet assist. Those two would be the starting frontcourt tandem for probably 6 or 7 other Big 12 teams and they're both backups for Kansas. That's a nice advantage to have.
No one else gets ratings, but a quick note: given the size (or lack thereof) in K State's backcourt, I find it odd that Frankamp got just 5 minutes. They could hide him on Spradling and then let him sit in the corner and bury threes on offense, but perhaps Self is saving that for when they need it (say, when they need to hide him on Phil Forte or Brady Heslip. Or Spradling in the return visit). Either way, it's nice to see Frankamp find his stroke from beyond the arc a bit.
One more note: THOSE UNIFORMS. Swoon.