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Offense Struggles in Kansas Win Over UC Santa Barbara

Michael B. Thomas

The Jayhawks struggled a bit in their season opening win over UCSB, finally pulling away in the second half to win 69 to 59. With it being a 71 possession game, Kansas scoring just .97 points per possession is a disappointing total against a defense ranked outside the top 100 last year. Still, The Jayhawks have a lot of new faces to work in, and a couple of the team's best players didn't get a lot of playing time or shots (more on that later).

Defensively, the Jayhawks were much better, allowing .831 points per possession, a mark which would have rated as one of the team's best last season. Still, I think some of that is fool's gold, as UCSB shot over 50% from two and were limited by shooting just 4-19 beyond the arc.

Fortunately, UCSB is a good team who will likely be in the NCAA tournament in March, so it's not unheard of or discouraging for such a young team to struggle a bit. Kansas will certainly improve as the year goes on. They'll also likely not see (much of) a better low post presence than Alan Williams, who shot 9-18 and grabbed 13 rebounds.

Elsewhere, Kansas was really good on the defensive glass, assisted on half their field goals, and forced UCSB to turn it over on 21% of their possessions, which also would have been one of their best improvements last season.

Statsheet doesn't have the four factors graphs ready to go yet, so let's skip to the individual marks:

  • Wayne Selden: Selden really struggled in this one. He was 2-5 from two and 0-3 from three, had just 1 rebound, and had the same number of assists as turnovers (2). He also had several off ball defensive lapses. I still think he'll be there but he needs to get better in a hurry.
  • Jamari Traylor didn't score a lot, but had 10 rebounds and a pair of blocks. His defense was decent and he only turned it over twice in 30 minutes.
  • Perry Ellis was no doubt the player of the game, but only got 7 shots up. Given how deadly he is in isolation, he needs to get up to 10 of those per game. He was 5-6 from the line, and had 10 rebounds, including 6 offensive. He also had 3 steals and appears to be a key part of the pressure defense.
  • Frank Mason had 12 points, but went just 1-3 from three and had 1 assist to 4 turnovers. Needless to say he needs to get a lot better by Tuesday.
  • Quickly becoming a fan favorite, Devonte Graham was 5-8 from two, 4-6 from the line, and had 4 rebounds. He had equal assists and turnovers, but he will get better at that and he played pretty well defensively.
  • Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk was 0-3 from three, but didn't miss badly on any of them and I think he'll be just fine as long as he keeps shooting them. He also had 4 rebounds and 3 assists with 0 turnovers. And oh yeah, he's just 17.
  • Cliff Alexander played just 12 minutes, with Bill Self apparently being upset with his on ball defense. He did have 9 points (3-5, 3-4 from the line) and 4 rebounds in those 12 minutes. I can't imagine him being nailed to the bench for long.
  • Landen Lucas had 2 fouls and 2 turnovers, limiting him to just 9 minutes. He'll improve, and should still be the second big off the bench.
  • Surprised Hunter Mickelson didn't get more playing time. He only played 2 minutes and, true to form, had 1 blocked shot
  • Speaking of guys who need to play more, Kelly Oubre played just 4 minutes. I get needing to defend and whatnot, but his rebounding ability is going to be needed on Tuesday, and his offensive (and defensive) potential are going to be needed for the rest of the season.