One of the final points I made in my post last week dissecting the Kansas defense was it seems like Kansas is getting stops on possessions they absolutely need stops, and that is about it. So it was yesterday when the Jayhawks let Oklahoma State get out to an early lead, then worked their way back into it, then spent much of the second half at a 1-7ish point lead. Kansas would build the lead up, then quit defending for a bit. Oklahoma State would then come back and when they were going for a tie or to take the lead, Kansas would buckle down and force a terrible shot.
That of course is not to suggest that all is well or even that Kansas can flip the switch whenever it wants. But it does suggest the ability to play lock down defense is there. Overall, Kansas had a pretty mediocre game defensively, allowing 1.07 points per possession while allowing OSU to shoot 49 percent on twos. One thing worth mentioning, though, is for all the grousing that fans (sometimes rightfully) do about the defensive rebounding, Kansas allowed one of the top-10 defensive rebounding teams in the country to rebound only a quarter of its misses.
It is also worth noting that some of those offensive rebounds down the stretch were killers, and I wonder what KU’s PPP allowed would be if we took out those easy putbacks, but as a whole the defensive rebounding was excellent and the overall defensive numbers weren’t bad. In particular I thought they did a great job making Jawun Evans take tough shots, as he finished 6-20 on twos and while he did have 6 assists, that was combined with 4 turnovers.
Now consider this. Kansas had a terrible time shooting the ball. Their National Player of the Year candidate missed a bunch of open looks. Same with their Freshman of the Year Candidate. The secondary scoring wasn’t really there. The Jayhawks shot just 25 percent from three. Yet Kansas still piled up 1.16 points per possession thanks in large part to them rebounding 38 percent of their misses and turning it over on just 13 percent of their possessions against one of the best turnover forcing teams in the league. There had been some talk as to whether Kansas would be able to survive an off night from deep, and while I wouldn’t want to go through that again, I think we have our answer.
- Frank Mason: 8. Mason was just 5-12 on twos and 1-4 from three, but also was 9-12 from the line and spearheaded the great defensive effort against Evans.
- Devonte Graham: 9. Graham played pretty good D in his own right, and was 5-7 on twos, 3-7 from deep, and added 4 assists to just 1 turnover.
- Josh Jackson: 7.5. His numbers from the field were a bit unseemly, going just 5-12 on twos, but he kept attacking, went 10-17 from the line, grabbed 11 rebounds, and had 4 steals. He took some hurried shots when he didn’t need to, and forced a couple passes he didn’t need to, but that’s probably a bit nitpicky.
- Svi Mykhailiuk: 5. Svi was 4-4 on twos but just 1-6 from three (although they were all good looks so clearly it was just one of those days), and also really struggled on the defensive end.
- Landen Lucas: 8. Lucas had 7 points, and didn’t miss a shot, and 12 rebounds. He also did a good job walling up defensively until some foul issues forced him to basically stand there while Mitchell Solomon shot jump hooks over him.
- Lagerald Vick: 5. Vick didn’t have a great game, missing all 3 shots he took from the field and committing 3 turnovers, but he had a couple key offensive rebounds and hustle plays, which you know Bill Self will like.
- Carlton Bragg: 4.5. I thought he was fine defensively to be honest, and didn’t make any glaring mistakes that I noticed, so I am not sure why he only got 9 minutes of playing time.