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Kansas Feels Charitable; Donates Game To Michigan State

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Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

There are some losses that you can draw positives from. Perhaps your team fought valiantly against a good opponent. Perhaps your team played poorly but still narrowly lost to someone good. This was neither. Michigan State is decent, but hardly an elite team. Kansas, meanwhile, played like a team stuck in the 1950s as they attacked the rim recklessly over and over again en route to a disappointing loss.

Chief among the concerns were the Jayhawks' 3-point shooting woes. Kansas attempted just 15 threes (just 22.7 percent of its attempts). Take out the four desperation threes at the end and just under 18 percent of KU's attempts came from three. Regardless of how many they made (and they made just 3 of them) that is embarrassing. The fact that Brannen Greene and Svi Mykhailiuk, Kansas's two best shooters (and Greene might be the nation's best shooter) combined for 0 attempts is embarrassing. Michigan State deserves some credit for that, but for the most part Kansas seemed content to let its perimeter players pump fake and dribble into a long two that ended up oftentimes being guarded just as well as the three they could have taken. Obviously the quality of opponent is different, but against Northern Colorado Kansas attempted 42 percent of its shots behind the arc. The Jayhawks scored 1.31 points per possession in that game. Compare that to this one when Kansas barely took a three and scored under a point per trip.

Kansas seemed content to run the 1-4 Frank Mason offense over and over again and while I love Frank Mason, that type of stuff is going to wear him out for March and this team has way too much talent to go to that well over and over again. The Jayhawks shot 12 for 29 on layups last night, but seemed content to attack in traffic over and over again rather than take open threes. Or, how about this for a crazy idea, drive (which both Mason and Graham were able to do consistently) and kick for an open three.

Watch any basketball game that has been played any time over the last five years, and you'll see how much of an influence the three has had on the game. It is fair to counter that the freedom of movement rules mean that driving is a better strategy. Still, that's where the drive and kick comes in. Kansas doesn't need to lead the nation in threes or anything, especially with a guy who can drive like Frank Mason and a guy who can score inside like Perry Ellis. But if the Jayhawks take 5 more threes they probably win. I hope I don't have to say that to myself too often this year, but I fear I will.

We'll cover the other issues in the player notes:

Devonte Graham did not shoot well: 1-5 on twos and 0-4 on threes. However, he had 4 assists and a turnover. If he sticks to his strengths, I still think he's in line for a nice year. He shot well from three last season, so he has potential as a spot up guy, but he's not a big slasher/scorer.

Frank Mason didn't play great either, but I think is getting a bit too much stick for his performance. It's got to be tough to consistently be the team's entire offense, and while he didn't finish great he had 5 rebounds, 3 assists and 1 turnover. 5-12 isn't a great shooting day but it's not killer either.

Perry Ellis played fantastic, so it's only natural Kansas would completely go away from him for some reason. He was 8-16 on twos, 2-5 on threes, and scored with a variety of moves. He got dominated on the defensive boards a bit but crashed the offensive boards hard. He will never be a good defensive rebounder but the improved effort on the offensive glass is encouraging.

Wayne Selden was 2-6 from three but didn't display any of the explosiveness he showed over the summer. He was 1-6 on twos and had just one rebound. He was also awful defensively.

Jamari Traylor was liked a lot more by the numbers than the eye test. He made his only shot and all four of his free throws and grabbed 3 offensive rebounds, but he got destroyed on the defensive glass and had some horrible fouls. Zero turnovers was a positive however.

Landen Lucas shot just 1-5, but like Mason I think he is getting a bit too much heat for his performance. He consistently got good position down low and his struggles finishing inside are a bit overstated. Lucas shot 53 percent on twos last year and 57 percent as a freshman. Lucas also led the team in defensive rebounds with six and his time on the floor was really the only time Kansas wasn't destroyed on the glass.

Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk didn't attempt a three for some stupid reason, but had 2 assists and played really good defense on everyone he was on. Denzel Valentine dominated the game, but Mykhailiuk was able to at least slow him down and force him into tough looks. By the end of the year I think he'll be KU's best perimeter defender.

Carlton Bragg was 2-2 on a couple of nice looking jumpers, but that was it.

Brannen Greene made all 6 of his free throws but didn't take a three. Why? Who knows. He also only played 9 minutes despite KU clearly needing threes. For the record, Andrew White was 3-6 on twos and 3-5 on threes for Nebraska against the 3rd ranked team in KenPom.

Hunter Mickelson played just 3 minutes. I am not as high on him as others, but clearly he should have played more.