I wouldn't say I feel better about Kansas's chances to win the Big 12 after that one, but I wouldn't say I feel worse either. The perfect storm of awful things happened last night, and it all combined for just a 5 point loss in Ames. It could have been worse.
But oh, it could have gone so much better. We'll cover one of the main problems in the notes on the players, but the Jayhawks gave up 31 points in transition, with at least 10 of them coming off pure laziness getting back on defense. Not that it's ever this simple, but if Kansas just sprints back after every offensive possession, they likely win the game last night.
The Jayhawks also struggled inside, shooting just 51 percent in the restricted area. That's better than it has been, but remember that Iowa State was a sub-300 rim protection team coming into the game.
Kansas was the victim of some bad luck as well, as Iowa State shot 10 percent above its season average beyond the arc, and the Jayhawks committed 23 fouls compared to just 13 for the Cyclones, despite virtually the same number of attempts at the rim. It happens.
What shouldn't happen is Kansas shooting 39 percent on threes and just 44 percent on twos, yet attempting 52 twos and just 23 threes. Certain players also shouldn't play more than certain other players, but again we'll get to that after the four factors analysis.
While this makes Iowa State's return trip to Lawrence more important, and it raises the importance of the next two games, the Jayhawks are still sitting pretty in the Big 12. Again, Iowa State needed the perfect storm of Kansas playing lazy, getting a bit lucky on threes, some Kansas incompetence, and a free throw disparity to win by five at home. Kansas also currently sits at +14 points per possession in Big 12 play, with Oklahoma the closest team at roughly +.07. The Jayhawks are still the best team in the league, even though it might not seem like it after last night. There are definitely things to fix, and time is starting to run out on that front, but the new reality here is that we aren't going to have many teams with 3, 4, or, in the case of 2013, 5 senior starters anymore. Freshmen and sophomores do dumb things sometimes, we just have to realize that and hope that it's worth it to get the brilliance that will inevitably result.
- Despite cramping up, Frank Mason was great again. Mason was 6-10 on twos and 2-4 on threes, and had 3 assists. 3 turnovers were the only thing holding him back.
- Wayne Selden was 3-5 on twos, 2-6 on threes, and had 3 assists and 3 turnovers. Statistically it didn't look too bad, but he took some tough two point jumpers that he needs to get rid of.
- Kelly Oubre had his first rough game in awhile, going 5-12 on twos and 0-3 on threes. He did have 8 rebounds and 2 steals though to salvage his effort a bit.
- If Perry Ellis got things working again long term, I'll gladly trade a loss for that. Ellis had 19 points and was 5-11 on twos and 2-3 on threes. He's now at 38.5 percent beyond the arc for the season. Ellis also had 11 rebounds and a blocked shot. He wasn't great, but it's a start.
- Jamari Traylor had 15 minutes played and a big giant bagel, going 0-5 from the floor. He also had 0 defensive rebounds.
- Devonte Graham was 1-4 on twos and 2-4 on threes, and had 4 assists and 0 turnovers. He's good.
- Landen Lucas played 19 minutes, didn't attempt a shot, had 3 turnovers, and didn't have a rebound. Most importantly, he was the main culprit getting beat down the floor. I am a big fan of Landen Lucas playing in games where Kansas needs rebounding, but they didn't need him for that in this one. I am very comfortable in saying that if Perry Ellis would have played more in the first half and not gotten benched because he had 2 fouls, which is a ridiculous "rule", Kansas would have won comfortably.
- Speaking of which. Cliff Alexander had a 136 offensive rating, had 6 points (on 3 shots) and 6 rebounds, and a blocked shot......and played 14 minutes, including just 2 in the second half. Read that again. 2 (freaking) minutes in the second half despite grabbing every rebound that came in his area and being a free two points when he got the ball. Despite this, Bill Self said his motor wasn't good or something so he only played two minutes in the second half and instead we had to watch guys jog back down the court and get beat for free layups but not get sat because hey their motors must have been just fine or something. Bill Self is a hall of famer, but it is absolutely negligent to not play Cliff Alexander. He is at worst the third best player on the team, and Self is intentionally handicapping the team by not playing him. If this is some sort of thing where the switch is going to go on like it did for Oubre then fine, but the switch is mostly flipped. Just play the guy and win a Big 12 title. It's that simple.
- Hunter Mickelson grabbed 4 rebounds in 3 minutes, which was kinda cool.