I wouldn't say I fully bought into the questioning this team's toughness narrative, but part of me wondered what would happen when West Virginia closed the gap to 5 to end the first half. Part of me also wondered what would happen when West Virginia snugged it up even more midway through the second half. Both times the Jayhawks responded and built the lead back up, and eventually to double digits. For a team whose problems have been starting and finishing, the Jayhawks outscored West Virginia 19-12 in the first 10 minutes and 22-18 in the final 10 minutes.
We'll start with the positives. Again, Kansas did an admirable job on the glass. West Virginia rebounded just 34 percent of its misses, and a lot of those in the first half came on broken plays such as a player getting his shot blocked and getting the ball back for a layup. Although Landen Lucas deserves a lot of the credit for the rebounding effort, don't overlook Frank Mason, Devonte Graham, and Brannen Greene crashing the glass. Mason and Greene get credit for being good rebounders, but a lot of times it is thanks to the other team not sending anyone to the glass. It is far different to rebound in traffic against a team like West Virginia rather than just going and getting the ball.
The Jayhawks didn't have a great game in terms of turnovers, but 23.4 percent is definitely good enough against a team that thrives on turning teams over. West Virginia won the turnover battle, but they need to really win the turnover battle in order to beat the upper echelon teams of the league.
Lastly, Kansas scored 1.17 points per possession, shot 67 percent from two, and 41 percent from three against the best defense in the league. West Virginia isn't the prototype of teams Kansas has had problems with in the half court, but with how often the half court offense stalled in January, this is a very positive sign.
Perry Ellis had yet another incredible game, going 6-7 from both 2 and the line, and making 1 of his 2 threes. He only had one rebound, but in watching the game I noticed he usually did a good job clearing his man away and letting Landen Lucas go 1 on 1 with his man for a rebound. I have harped on the plus/minus statistic forever here, but one place I think it works fairly well is defensive rebounding. There's a lot more to it than being the guy who eventually ends up with the ball, so I think Perry deserves some of the credit for how many rebounds Kansas got with him on the floor. He also had the defensive play of the night, pinning a Devin Williams shot against the backboard.
Devonte Graham was a bit of a mixed bag. He played well defensively and was 2-4 from three, but had 5 turnovers.
Frank Mason wasn't perfect, but looks a long way towards being the Frank Mason of old. He had just 2 turnovers and actually got to the line quite a bit, making 7 of his 8 free throws.
Landen Lucas was the star of the night, going 4-5 on twos and grabbing 16 rebounds. He also was Kansas's best post defender. Beyond the 4 blocked shots, he consistently pushed guys off the block and did a great job contesting shots without fouling.
Wayne Selden had a decent game that was undone by shooting just 1-5 from three. He was efficient on twos and only turned it over twice, however, so all in all not a poor game.
Brannen Greene was 2-3 from three and 4-4 from the line. He did a good job on the glass and wasn't taken advantage of too badly defensively. He's now shooting 55.8 percent from three on the season.
Jamari Traylor struggled on the glass and had 2 turnovers in just 9 minutes (though I didn't really mind the one where the ball got poked away from behind. He was one dribble away from an easy pass for a dunk).
Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk played just 4 minutes, which surprised me given how well he played defense out there. I suppose it was a matter of his strength and maybe some of Kansas was playing well with the guys who were out there so Self didn't want to change things up.
Cheick Diallo played 2 minutes and had a nice rebound off a tap back, but just wasn't strong enough to bang with West Virginia's front line.
Carlton Bragg played 1 minute and gave up a 3 point play.