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Kansas Wins Back and Forth Affair With Oklahoma

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Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Coming into the game, everyone knew the Jayhawks needed to respond to a disappointing loss on Saturday, when it seemed the Jayhawks did more to lose than anything else. The fans got their wish last night, at least in the first half, when Kansas made nine threes en route to a 19 point lead at halftime.

And then, whoops. While it was clear the Jayhawks weren't going to make nine threes per half, I also didn't predict the Jayhawks making just one in the second half. Still, Kansas finished 52.6 percent on threes, which was the biggest part of the Jayhawks 1.18 points per possession effort.

It's worth noting, and more important, that the Jayhawks won the battle on twos as well, shooting 46.3 percent inside the arc compared to 45 percent for the Sooners. For all the grousing I have done about those areas this year, the Jayhawks lead the Big 12 in two point defense and are second in two point offense.

I was a little disappointed with the Jayhawks' rebounding efforts, as they let one of the worse offensive rebounding teams grab 35 percent of their misses, roughly 8 percent over Oklahoma's average, but the Jayhawks made the Sooners miss enough inside, and it's worth noting, probably got a little lucky on three point defense. Buddy Hield was just 4-13 on threes, though the Jayhawks did a pretty good job at forcing tough looks for most of the game even as the times he got free really stand out. The Jayhawks did their best work on TaShawn Thomas, who was just 1-7 and had 6 turnovers.

Lastly, Kansas forced steals on 11.1 percent of the Sooners possessions, which led to some free points for the Jayhawks (as an aside: one steal also led to one of the worst intentional foul calls I've ever seen and, between that and the play where Brannen Greene dribbled it off a Sooner's foot but the ball was given to Oklahoma, four free points for Buddy Hield. Without those, Oklahoma's offense drops to just 1.03 points per possession).

Lastly, it's worth noting that against one of the best rim protection teams in the country, Kansas shot 55.6 percent in the restricted area. That's not great, but it's almost 10 percent better than the Sooners allow on the season, and it made all the difference.

  • Perry Ellis had his second strong game in a row, and one against a really tough inside defense. Ellis shot 5-9 on twos and 1-2 on threes, grabbed 8 rebounds, and came up with two steals.
  • The bad news is this was probably Frank Mason's worst game in awhile. The good news is he was still pretty good and Kansas beat a really good opponent without Mason's best game. Mason was 2-6 on twos, 1-2 on threes, and had 4 assists to 2 turnovers.
  • Kelly Oubre is really good (spoilers). Oubre led the Jayhawks with 19 points, was 4-6 on twos, 2-5 on threes, converted some big free throws, and grabbed 9 rebounds. Oubre also had two more steals, including the play of the first half when he dove on the floor twice, forcing an Oklahoma turnover.
  • Wayne Selden was just 1-6 on twos and 1-3 on threes, and also had 2 turnovers, but for most of the game (especially the first half) he did such a good job on Buddy Hield that I'm willing to look past it.
  • Jamari Traylor didn't light it up, but he did get back to the things that make him effective, going 2-3 on twos, and adding an assist, a steal, and two blocks. Traylor stayed within himself, made pretty simple plays, and brought a lot of energy to both ends of the floor.
  • Cliff Alexander, who usually is great in limited minutes, was great in expanded minutes. The freshman was 4-7 from the field, but shot 7 free throws, and grabbed 13 rebounds, including 7 (!) offensive. It's worth noting that before I reviewed this post I actually said Perry led the team with three rebounds because it is insane to me that someone could grab 7. He was a monster on the glass, he did a really good job at getting post position, scoring over guys, and passing out of double teams, and he was a good interior defender as well.
  • Brannen Greene struggled defensively, but hit some huge shots for the Jayhawks, going 3-4 from three. The worst part of the night for the Jayhawks, which once looked like it was headed for disaster, ends up being that Brannen Greene has now missed a free throw in his career.
  • Devonte Graham finally committed another turnover. What a bum. In all seriousness, the backup PG had 4 assists and 1 turnover, and was 2-3 on threes, including one that bounced roughly 18 feet high off the rim, raising his season average to 46.2 percent. I also think it's interesting that his #1 comp on KenPom right now is a guy he was compared to a bit coming out of high school, Duke freshman point guard Tyus Jones.