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Inside Shooting, Turnovers Fuel Kansas Win over Kent State

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

A week ago I looked at the Jayhawks' defense and whether it would be good/elite without the ability to turn opponents over. While the jury is still out on that, it's worth noting the Jayhawks defense got steals on 12.9 percent of Kent State's possessions, which often led to easy baskets on the other end. It was probably the biggest reason why Kansas held the Golden Flashes to .89 points per possession and one of the bigger reasons why the Jayhawks scored 1.11 points per trip.

It's worth noting the Jayhawks were helped by a reliably good 3-point shooting team missing some relatively open looks from deep. Kent State shot just 33 percent from three, and if the Flashes had shot their season average they would have scored (roughly) a more respectable .9 points per possession.

Still, the Jayhawks did other good things defensively. Kent State shot just 44.7 percent from two, which means Kansas is just a bit above average at 2 point defense now. Kansas also did a good job on the defensive glass, limiting Kent State to grabbing just 23.7 percent of its misses.

Offensively, the Jayhawks attempted just 23 percent of their shots from three, though it was more acceptable against an opponent like Kent State and with the transition opportunities the Jayhawks were able to create. They also shot 53.2 percent from two, and although it got frustrating in the first half, the Jayhawks were 14-22 on dunks and layups, not counting Tyler Self's uncontested layin at the buzzer.

Other than that, though, the Jayhawks scored mostly the way they have all year: by grabbing a bunch of offensive rebounds and getting to the free throw line. That, 3-point shooting, and pressure defense might have to be this team's identity going forward.

  • Another excellent game for Frank Mason. 4-6 from two, 1-3 from three, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, and just 1 turnover. The last number is probably most important, as the one major knock on Mason's game still is his turnovers, though I do think a lot of that is the point guard's role in Self's offense.
  • Maybe Kelly Oubre's best game of the year? (I feel like I've said that a lot lately). He was 4-5 on twos and 4-7 on threes (he also showed why he was billed as a streaky shooter, making all four 3s in the first half and missing all three in the second). Oubre grabbed 7 rebounds, had a couple steals, and played well with foul trouble. (see, you don't have to automatically bench guys who get two fouls in the first half). He's playing excellent perimeter defense lately, and continues to grow on offense and with little hustle plays.
  • Wayne Selden had just five points on 1-7 shooting, but he did have 4 rebounds and 5 assists, and he had stretches of good on ball defense (off ball though, woof.) Still, while this isn't as encouraging as a game in which he scores 20 points, it's encouraging that he managed to find ways to add value when his jumper wasn't falling.
  • Perry Ellis rebounded from a tough start to go 7-14 from two and grab 8 rebounds. I also liked that, after missing a couple bunnies and getting his shot blocked, he adjusted and went to the jump hook (and jumper) a bit more.
  • Jamari Traylor finished 3-4 from the field, but had just 3 rebounds in 21 minutes and committed a team high 3 turnovers. Without those turnovers, Kansas's rate as a team drops to a very good 17.1 percent.
  • Free Landen Lucas came in and grabbed 7 rebounds in 15 minutes, played some good post defense, and provided some good screens. His offense isn't there yet, but good screeners have value in Self's offense and I think he will get better at scoring, so I still project him to have a very good final two years in Lawrence.
  • Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk had a steal and a dunk but other than that didn't do much in his 13 minutes of playing time.
  • There were rumblings on twitter during the game that Cliff Alexander was sick, as he played sparingly in the first half. He finished with 13 minutes total, scored 8 points on 4 shots, had 4 rebounds, and 2 blocks. Did have two turnovers, but seriously just play him and Perry together. Please.
  • Free Hunter Mickelson played three minutes and had yet another blocked shot. Obviously you can't do this very well given how little he's played, but Mickelson's block rate is 14.1% this season, but it would rank him 8th nationally if he had enough minutes played to qualify.