The story of this game can be summed up in a few numbers. First, the Jayhawks allowed West Virginia to rebound a ridiculous 51.2 percent of its misses. Secondly, West Virginia, a team that shoots 30.2 percent on threes on the season and 29.2 percent on threes in Big 12 play, shot 38.1 percent (8-21) on threes last night. Lastly, the Mountaineers, the most foul heavy team in the Big 12 by a wide wide margin, sent the Jayhawks to the line just 11 times last night. No other Big 12 team had shot fewer than 22 free throws against them (hat tip to Jesse Newell on that stat).
The Jayhawks took awhile to get used to the press, but once they did they handled it fairly well. Although they turned it over on 24.6 percent of their possessions, that is better than West Virginia forces on average, and the Jayhawks still scored over a point per possession.
However, three point luck aside, the Jayhawks allowing a point per possession to West Virginia is embarrassing. The Mountaineers shot just 37.2 percent on twos, but the second, third, and fourth opportunities did the Jayhawks in.
As for how this impacts Kansas, I don't think it's anything more than just one of those games. It makes the quest for 11 a little bit tougher, but if the Jayhawks can win in Manhattan (no gimme) and hold serve at home they likely will win at least a share, and the Jayhawks still lead the Big 12 in efficiency margin and are no doubt the league's best team, so they're still in the driver's seat.
As for going forward, while I'm not encouraged by losing, West Virginia needed three things to happen to have a chance: 1. they needed to get a bit lucky from three, 2. they needed to be able to press without getting called for fouls, and 3. Kansas had to help them out a bit. All three happened, and the Jayhawks still managed to almost beat a decent team on the road. It happens, and I would say maybe it will be a teaching lesson about how they need to play well for 40 minutes but I think that ship has sailed.
We'll examine the final possession in depth later, but I suppose I have to remark on the West Virginia basket that came after the shot clock had expired and Juwan Staten's travel on the final possession: both were wrong calls, I don't expect the Staten one to have been called, Kansas still should have won.
- Frank Mason was 4-8 on twos and 3-5 on threes, but had just 2 assists and 2 turnovers.
- Kelly Oubre was probably Kansas's best player, going 3-6 on twos, 2-2 from three, and he grabbed a team high 6 defensive rebounds. For all the (probably legit) complaints about Cliff Alexander not playing, it's worth noting that Oubre is the Jayhawks best defensive rebounder this season.
- Perry Ellis had a nice game, but probably should have been a bit better than 6-14 given the Mountaineers interior defense. He also had 5 rebounds and 2 assists.
- Bad Wayne Selden showed up in this one, going 2-4 on twos and 0-1 from three. Selden had 4 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 turnovers.
- Cliff Alexander played just 6 minutes and didn't attempt a shot. He also had a rebound. I will leave the Cliff Alexander debate for other people, but it is worth noting that in Kansas's three conference losses, Alexander has played 6 second half minutes combined. Cliff, who is 7th in the Big 12 in defensive rebounding, probably would have helped on that end, but he is not a very good ISO or perimeter defender, so I can understand Self not wanting him in for extended stretches. I do think, however, that him playing in stretches and grabbing rebounds would have helped. And yes, he did struggle in the first few minutes, but so did everyone else. I have no idea how he would have reacted to getting to work through his mistakes like every other player on the team, but neither does anyone else. Then again, Bill Self knows his players better than I do so I will defer to him.
- Jamari Traylor was 2-5 on twos, had 3 assists to just 1 turnover, but really struggled defensively and on the boards. He now has a defensive rebounding rate of just 7.4 percent, which is horrible for a guy his size.
- Landen Lucas had 2 points and 6 rebounds in 16 minutes, and also added a block and a steal. He's another guy who could have been given Traylor's minutes.
- Brannen Greene missed the only shot he took, and got just 12 minutes.
- Devonte Graham had probably his worst game of the season, with 0 assists and 4 turnovers.
- #freesvi got 2 minutes and missed his only shot.