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Kansas Uses Stout Defense To Defeat Michigan State and Claim Orlando Classic Title

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The last time Kansas won an 8 team in season tournament was the 1999 Great Alaska Shootout. Drew Gooden was the MOP. Jeff Boschee, Luke Axtell, and Eric Chenowith made the all tournament team. This year, Perry Ellis claimed the tournament MVP as Kansas held off Michigan State in a battle of two as of yet complete teams.

It certainly wasn't an offensive effort for the ages as Kansas posted just .94 points per possession and shot 42.5 percent from two. Defensively, though, was another story. The Spartans posted just .86 points per trip and shot 31 percent inside the arc. Kansas limited Michigan State to rebounding only 24 percent of its misses, and was able to survive only forcing turnovers on 10.8 percent of Michigan State's possessions.

The lone bright spots for Kansas offensively were their ability to get to the line and avoid horrible turnovers. They still turned it over quite a bit, but Michigan State only had steals on 4.6 percent of Kansas's possessions (which is excellent).

Kansas certainly isn't a finished product yet, but in the Tennessee game and the Michigan State game they faced some adversity and came out better on the other side. Those reps, not to mention what should be a resume boosting win, will prove to be a big help come March. Still, the Jayhawks need to start developing a rotation, get better at shooting from the outside, and force some more turnovers. If they can do that, the list of teams to worry about gets microscopic.

  • Perry Ellis was 7-12 from two and had 9 rebounds en route to the tournament MOP. While he still has his limitations offensively against certain lineup, against smaller lineups Ellis should probably get in the neighborhood of 15-20 shots every game. He also played really well defensively.
  • Wayne Selden was the first Jayhawk to go 0-10 from the field since Kirk Hinrich in 2002. Things worked out well for him, but Selden looks rough right now.
  • Frank Mason had three turnovers, but as with past KU point guards I think that's more a feature of the offense than the guy running it. Mason also had 10 points, 5 assists, and 10 rebounds, which isn't bad for a guy listed at 5'11" but is probably even shorter.
  • Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk was already one of the better players on the team, but if he's found his outside shot (3-6 today) he takes another step up. He had 4 rebounds and a steal, and is one of the better defenders on the team.
  • Landen Lucas was 3-3 from the field and had 6 points and 3 rebounds in 8 minutes. I guess I get why he doesn't get more PT with Alexander's emergence and the need for a guy with Traylor's skillset, but he needs to play more if at all possible.
  • In Cliff's worst game of the tournament, he shot just 1-5, but he did have 8 rebounds and 4 blocks in 26 minutes. I wouldn't be surprised if this were his last game coming off the bench.
  • Greene, Oubre, and Graham were all pretty rough offensively, but I did want to make special mention of Oubre's defense. It was horrendous the first few games of the season, but he did a great job on Denzel Valentine and not letting him get a good look. If he keeps that effort up he'll definitely start earning some minutes.