Now that that’s out of the way, it’s worth pointing out that wasn’t a very good shot (although there is an argument that he wouldn’t be able to get a foul call on the last possession of a game like that), and Mason had a couple poor off ball plays late in the game (more on that in a sec). Still, the Jayhawks traveled more than 7,000 miles and traversed an entire country’s worth of time zones twice and still knocked off the #1 team in the nation. That’s why I am not persuaded by the Duke was missing 3 guys argument (and other reasons but I don’t want to make this whole post about that).
Kansas took a bit of time to get going offensively, but eventually scored 1.05 points per possession, thanks in large part to shooting 65 percent on twos. Add in the fact that the Jayhawks shot just 2-17 from three and in a whistle happy game attempted fewer free throws (19) than Duke made (21) and it could have been a lot better offensively. That’s the first area where you really noticed the fatigue. A lot of jumpers were either left short or forced long by guys realizing they needed to put a little extra on them, and I think Svi missing that layup late had as much to do with fatigue as anything. With guys like Mason, Graham, Svi, Vick (and even a little Jackson and Bragg), Kansas will figure out their 3-point woes, which will add another dimension to the offense.
Defensively, Kansas had a good stretch in the second half where they really forced Duke to work for its points, but in the end the Blue Devils scored 1.03 points per possession (which is actually not bad considering their talent on offense) and they shot 53.6 percent on twos (which needs to get fixed in a hurry). Duke also was 8-19 from three (42 percent). The big keys defensively were Kansas forcing a normally stingy offense to turn it over on 22 percent of its possessions, and limiting the Blue Devils to just 6 offensive rebounds, grabbing 20 percent of their misses. The Jayhawks did a number on Grayson Allen, forcing him to shoot 3-8 on twos and 1-7 from three. They struggled a lot with Luke Kennard, who was 5-6 on twos and 2-4 on threes, but the twos were mostly tough looks and Kansas usually struggles early in the season (and sadly sometimes late) letting shooters get free. I also think they did a decent job making Duke pay for relying on Kennard offensively by punishing him on the other end of the floor. I’d like to see more of that going forward, but it is important to remember the Jayhawks are basically installing new offense this year.
Number grades this time! (1-10 scale)
- Devonte Graham: 7. Graham was 5-6 on twos and though he was just 1-6 from three, I don’t expect to see that often. He also played pretty good perimeter defense except for getting lost in the corner a couple times.
- Frank Mason: 9. Mason had a big three point play late, and of course the game winner. Overall he was 8-12 on twos and 5-7 from the line. He also added 5 assists and had a couple that could have been assists but for some missed open threes. As teams key on his driving more, he will have to keep that passing up.
- Josh Jackson: 7. I don’t mind the technical, especially considering it took Duke whining like babies to get that call. I don’t buy into the whole “Kansas has been too stoic lately” thing, but I do think you probably need 1 guy on the team who is a bit crazy, and Jackson appears to be it. He struggled early, but had some really nice drives in the second half, which opened up his jumper. He finished 6-7 on twos, 1-2 from three, had 2 rebounds, an assist, and a steal. He also got robbed on a couple foul calls: the loose ball foul and his 5th foul.
- Carlton Bragg: 6. Bragg was 3-5 from two and 3-4 from the line, adding 5 rebounds, an assist, a block, and a steal. Once Kansas finds its rhythm a bit with this 4 guard look I expect Bragg to take off due to his skill and shooting ability. I do think he struggled a bit defensively, however.
- Landen Lucas: 5. Lucas got robbed on a couple possessions when he was called for fouls for....posting up I guess? In any event, he finished 1-4, had a rebound, and an assist. He had some nice moments defending in the post as well as the pick and roll, but wasn’t able to take advantage of Duke’s smaller lineup offensively.
- Lagerald Vick: 6. Like Graha, the threes will come. Vick did a good job not hiding even though he missed some shots, and finished 4-5 on twos with 5 rebounds. He also showed his potential as a defender.
- Svi Mykhailiuk: 5. I didn’t think this was a great game by Svi, who was 1-2 on twos and 0-3 from three and also struggled a bit off the ball defensively. Still, the threes will come, and I still expect him to have a big year.
- Udoka Azubuike: 7. Boo (thanks 2.1) had just 6 points, but 12 rebounds in 15 minutes, and a steal and a coast to coast finish. He looked pretty composed in the low post, especially for a 17 year old, as well. The lone drawbacks were a couple of silly fouls that took him out of the game when Kansas was making a nice run with him in there.
- Mitch Lightfoot: Incomplete. It seems unfair to give him a grade when he played just 3 minutes, but he had a nice block (that was probably a foul to be honest), and big rebound. The 3 he attempted looked good as well. Once he gets used to playing major college basketball, and adds some weight, he’s going to be good.