I was close on the margin of victory, but about 20 points off on each team's score. Both teams came into the game as offensive juggernauts, but it was the defense (or perhaps just lack of offense) that stole the show. The Jayhawks shot just 43.6 percent inside the arc, while Vanderbilt's previously stellar 3 point shooting let them down, as the Commodores shot just 22.2 percent from three. The Jayhawks did a reasonable job at challenging most of them, but given the defense they played on the perimeter, you'd think Vanderbilt would have shot a higher percentage out there.
As for Kansas, the Jayhawks showed a bit of the same frustrations as last season, continuing to attack the rim over and over despite not getting much there. The Jayhawks were 14/31 in close, again showing the ability to get to the rim, but not much ability to finish there. Meanwhile, the Jayhawks shot 50 percent on 16 3-point attempts, or a better percentage than they shot at the rim.
Kansas struggled with Vanderbilt's size all night, but fortunately was able to hold the Commodores off the offensive glass for the most part, though that was mostly due to Vanderbilt being more concerned with getting back in transition than crashing the class. Still, holding a team to a 16.1 percent offensive rebounding rate suggests that part of it is due to rebounding skill, especially with all of the 3s Vanderbilt attempted.
Kansas had another strong night taking care of the ball, committing turnovers on just 17 percent of its possessions. However, the Jayhawks forced turnovers on just 16 percent of Vandy's possessions. That's something that will have to improve going forward if the Jayhawks are to reach their ceiling.
Wayne Selden turned in an MVP (or co-MVP in this case) type effort, going 4-5 on twos and 4-6 from three. Selden contributed on the glass as well, and also had a block and a steal. I'll excuse his 2 point jumpers in this one for a few reasons: 1. he also went to the rim and got fouled a few times, 2. Kansas is going to need to take those if they can't score inside and 3. he still attempted more 3s than 2s. I'm not expecting this Wayne Selden every game, but maybe we'll get him more often than not.
Devonte Graham had another awesome game. Graham still needs to knock off the weird 2 point attempts, but he was 3-5 on threes, had 6 rebounds, and just 1 turnover. He had only 1 assist, but got robbed of a couple more thanks to a couple missed easy ones.
Frank Mason shared MVP honors for the tournament with Selden, but had a tough game. I thought he got fouled a few times when going to the rim, but nonetheless he was just 4-12 on twos. He had 5 rebounds, 3 assists, and just 1 turnover though.
Jamari Traylor had a better game than the numbers suggest, flipping his MIchigan State effort, in going 1-3 and grabbing 4 rebounds. He got out well when switching screens, nailed almost all of his defensive rotations, and did a reasonable job keeping the offense moving while drawing a couple fouls inside.
Perry Ellis had a crash back to earth game just one day after showing he could score over length. He was just 1-6 and Kansas built its big lead at the end mostly without him. He did lead the team in defensive rebounds with 7, but had 3 rough turnovers and struggled a bit on both ends of the floor.
Landen Lucas had a monster putback dunk and a very nice possession where he got a mismatch in the post, was patient until Vanderbilt's Luke Kornet backed away from helping off his man, and then scored. He was also the only Jayhawk with multiple offensive rebounds.
Svi Mykhailiuk played just 11 minutes in this one, which is a bit confusing to me, but was 2-3 on twos and 1-2 on threes. He played well defensively and had an offensive rebound. Fatigue was probably a factor for him but I do wish he would have played more.
Carlton Bragg played 9 minutes and had 4 points and an assist. He had one score off a steal going coast to coast, and his assist was great recognition after drawing 2 defenders. He's going to be very good eventually.
Hunter MIckelson, rightly or wrongly, has probably seen some of his last meaningful minutes. Mickelson missed his only shot, and had a rebound and a turnover in 4 minutes.