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Kansas Struggles in Loss to San Diego State

Jamie Squire

I mentioned after the Toledo game that this team doesn't really have what it takes to win ugly. The sad part is, they played the type of game Bill Self wanted to play: low scoring, tough defense, etc. etc. The other sad part is that that's not how this team is wired, and if HCBS keeps trying to force a square peg into a round hole, the quest for 10 straight could be over before it even starts.

Defensively Kansas played well, holding the Aztecs to 37.7% shooting from two, and forced turnovers on 23% of their possessions. With all of Self's focus on forcing turnovers, it was nice to see the team follow through in that regard.

That's about where the good times end. Kansas scored under .9 points per possession, and really struggled shooting the ball. They shot just 32% from two and 25% from three. The worst part is they were getting pretty good looks. Obviously SDSU is a good defensive team, and their length bothered Kansas, but the Jayhawks missed multiple bunnies that were easily makeable shots. Full credit to the Aztecs for coming out and playing well, but this was a game Kansas should have won, but for missing some easy shots.

The toughness thing, though, might be a real concern: San Diego State grabbed 45.2% of their misses and Kansas is now 111th in defensive rebounding. That, frankly, is not good enough. They're still shooting well inside and defending teams well inside, the two things that most correlate to a successful team, but if everything else goes wrong, that's not enough to hang their hat on.

The good news is that Kansas absolutely could have and should have won each game they lost. A play here, a play there, and they're still undefeated. As we saw with Florida last season, a team's record in close games isn't really indicative of the quality of the team. The bad news is that even after these four losses, we're still shrugging our shoulders and wondering if Kansas has learned anything.

Andrew Wiggins: 6. Wiggins struggled from the field, going 4-10 from two and 0-4 from three, but got to the line efficiently and added some rebounds.

Naadir Tharpe: 6.5. Tharpe shot poorly, going 1-5 from two and 1-5 from three, but had 5 assists and no turnovers. Honestly it's tough to bag on him for shooting so much seeing as no one could make a shot inside.

Joel Embiid: 9. It's amazing that the one constant on this team is the guy who has played the least amount of basketball. Embiid shot 3-5 from two, 6-7 from the line, grabbed 12 rebounds, had 5 blocks, and 3 assists.

Wayne Selden: 4.5. Selden was 1-6 from two, 1-2 from three, had just 1 rebound, and 1 assist. Something just isn't clicking for him right now, other than (ironically enough) his three point shooting.

Perry Ellis: 5. Ellis shot an abysmal 1-7 from two, and in a game where I thought he'd at least be able to go to the line a lot, shot just 1-3 there. He didn't show his jumper enough, and he seemed more concerned with trying circus shots than going into his defender and drawing a foul. His 3 blocks and steady all around defense saved his rating.

Frank Mason: 6.5. Mason had basically the same game as Tharpe, he just did it with shooting rather than assists. Mason went 2-5 from two and 2-3 from three, but had 0 assists and 1 turnover.

Jamari Traylor: 7. Traylor was 1-3 from two, and grabbed three rebounds and blocked 2 shots in just 18 minutes.