The Jayhawks needed a game like this after facing Kentucky. The Jayhawks notably struggled with teams with length last season, and appear headed that way this season as well, so Rider was the perfect opponent to face. They had just one big guy, seven footer Matt Lopez whose playing time was limited due to foul trouble, and as a result Kansas got to do basically whatever it wanted offensively, making 71 percent of their twos and getting to the free throw line a bunch. The result was 1.38 points per possession, by far the best of the season, and some feel goods as they travel to the Orlando Classic.
Because of the opponent, it would be unwise to take too much meaning from this one. Kansas was always going to shoot a high percentage from two (though perhaps I did not foresee them shooting as well as they did) and they kept from turning the ball over.
On the flipside, any notion that this is going to be a stifling pressure defense is probably gone, or disappearing rapidly. Rider had a turnover rate of just 16 percent, and Kansas sits at 309th nationally in turnovers forced. Elsewhere for the bad column: Kansas allowed Rider to shoot 46.2 percent inside the arc. Certainly that's not poor on its face, but compared to where Kansas is usually at and considering the opponent, things need to get a lot better in a hurry. One might wonder why Hunter Mickelson, who has a block percentage over 20 percent (small sample size and quality of competition caveats apply) doesn't get more playing time, but that one's for the experts to ponder.
Elsewhere, Kansas allowed Rider to rebound 38.5 percent of its misses, something else that needs to be cleared up dramatically, though something tells me that when/if Kansas's best defensive rebounders get more playing time, those numbers will improve.
As I mentioned, Kansas next travels to the Orlando Classic. There will likely be a preview post on it, but quick scout: Kansas is about 80 percent favorites over Rhode Island, would probably be 85 percent favorites or so over Santa Clara, and probably 65 percent favorites over Tennessee, so a clash with Michigan State, who has the easiest tournament bracket known to man (Hey Tom Izzo with an easy draw, no way) in the final seems likely.
- Perry Ellis did what Perry Ellis does (seriously I am going to get that post up about him soon) going 5-6 from two and 7-10 from the line.
- Cliff Alexander continues to excel on a per minute basis, with 10 points (on 4-4 shooting) and four rebounds in just 13 minutes of playing time. Clearly Self is making him (and Oubre) fully buy in defensively and in terms of knowing the offense before turning them lose.
- Although he didn't score, Wayne Selden had one of his better games as a Jayhawk, posting 9 assists and just 1 turnover. Perhaps it is a not so subtle reminder of how good the offense can look when the ball isn't sticking.
- Frank Mason had probably his best game of the year with 4 assists and just 1 turnover. He also led the team with 5 defensive rebounds, which is cool but obviously never should happen.
- Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk still looks like the best player on the team. He found his shot from three, going 2-5, had 5 rebounds, and 2 assists. He looks like the most prepared player on the team, and I had to chuckle at the announcers saying he might not have been prepared for the atmosphere of Allen Fieldhouse. Allen Fieldhouse is a raucous environment, but for whatever it offers I'm sure it's not as crazy as the fans in the Ukranian League.
- Landen Lucas started, but played just 13 minutes. He scored 9 points on 3-3 shooting and had 4 rebounds in those 13 minutes.
- Brannen Greene was probably the player of the game, and had his best game in a Jayhawk uniform (though maybe not when factoring in opponent). He had 17 points, was 3-3 from two, 2-4 from three, and 5-5 at the line. He also didn't turn the ball over.