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Kansas Steps Up Without Embiid And Defeats Oklahoma State To Advance To Big 12 Semis

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

A game after Kansas's worst defensive effort of the year, the Jayhawks put on a close enough to vintage Bill Self performance defensively, holding the Cowboys to just .97 points per possession in a 77-70 win over Oklahoma State.

To rain on the parade a bit, that mark was helped by Oklahoma State going 6-21 from three, but it is worth noting that a lot of those looks were really tough shots. In particular, Jayhawk killer Markel Brown (thank god we never have to play against him again) was guarded so well by Andrew Wiggins that he was only able to attempt 4 threes, and the only three he made was a ridiculous circus like shot.

Even though it didn't seem like it at times, the Jayhawks did well defensively inside, allowing the Cowboys to shoot just 42% inside the arc, and the Jayhawks allowed Oklahoma State to rebound just 14% of their misses.

It was good news they limited the Cowboys to just 1 shot as well, as they forced turnovers on just 6%(!) of their possessions (just 5 total TOs). While the Jayhawks were able to play effective defense without the turnovers, it would have been nice to have some easy looks at the basket due to turning them over. On the bright side, Kansas did an OK job of taking care of the ball themselves, turning it over on roughly 19% of their possessions. It would be nice to get that mark lower, but I have evolved to the point where anything under 20% is great news.

Without Embiid, Kansas managed a respectable 7.6 block percentage (if you believe Statsheet) or an 11.1% block percentage (if you believe KenPom). Either way, it is good news that the defense didn't look completely lost without Embiid on the floor.

Lastly, we enjoyed the rarest of unicorns yesterday: A KU-OSU game in which Markel Brown didn't play like Lebron James, and a game where Marcus Smart didn't get to reach in every possession and not get called for it, or barrel into defenders standing straight up and get the call (it happened only 85% of the time or so).

Andrew Wiggins: 9. Wiggins had 5 turnovers, but that was the only bad thing he did yesterday. He defended Markel Brown so well, as outlined above, that he virtually took him out of the game. He had enough energy left over to drop 30 on 17 shots, grabbed 8 rebounds, had a block, 3 steals and committed only 1 foul. One more year! One more year!

Wayne Selden: 7.5. Offensively Selden didn't have a great game. He shot just 1-5 from three and he'll need to get back to his hot streak in order for Kansas to go deep in the tournament. He did make 3 of his 5 twos and go 5-7 from the line though, and attacked the rim effectively in the first half (he doesn't get full credit given that he was guarded by Phil Forte though). edit: forgot to mention the stellar defense he (and others) played on Marcus Smart, holding him to 3-10 from two, 1-4 from three shooting, and 3 assists and 2 turnovers.

Naadir Tharpe: 8. I saw a lot of people saying Tharpe didn't play great and they didn't notice him and yadda yadda, but that's kind of the point with him sometimes. Kansas doesn't need Tharpe to be the best point guard in the country, they just need him to not try to be the best point guard in the country and hit a big shot every once in awhile. True to form, Tharpe had 7 assists and just 2 turnovers, and though he missed all of his threes, he was 2-4 from two and made some big free throws down the stretch.

Perry Ellis: 7.5. Ellis led the team in PPP in this one, mainly because he didn't take a lot of shots, and while there's nothing inherently wrong with 9 points and 8 rebounds (including leading the team in offensive boards) I really expected Ellis to have a big game here. Without the lane clogged due to everyone guarding Embiid, Ellis should have a bit more space to operate, and I expected some more pick and pop with Wiggins. Maybe we're saving that for the tournament.

Tarik Black: 8. Black gave Kansas a big lift to start the game, and finished with 7 points and 12 rebounds. He had 4 fouls, but a couple of them were mayyyyyyyyybe not the greatest calls ever. I am shocked that refereeing in a college game was subpar.

Jamari Traylor: 6.5. Traylor has a ridiculous motor. He also had 2 turnovers with a pretty low usage rate. He's stopped turning it over when dribbling or standing there, but when he passes it is like playing the lottery. Sometimes there will be a ridiculous assist, but often times he'll throw it out of bounds or to the other team or to our guy but in a bad spot. The turnover issue isn't his alone though, so it's probably unfair to harp on it. I do so because it's really the last thing standing between him being a good energy guy off the bench and a guy who could legitimately start for this team. He shot 3-6 from two, had 9 rebounds, and two blocks.