The immediate thought after last night was that I was a bit disappointed in Kansas for not winning by 15-20. They got a free shot at the rim almost every possession, dominated the glass, and I think did a pretty good job of forcing Iowa State to take tough shots.
Still, the Jayhawks won on the road, which regardless of opponent in the Big 12 is tough to do, and they did it with Frank Mason hurt for half the game and Josh Jackson committing a lot of unforced errors, so I will shut up now.
It’s illustrative of how important taking care of the ball is that the Jayhawks were able to shoot 59.6 percent on twos, 40 percent on threes, and rebound 46.7 of their misses, but they still “only” scored 1.10 points per possession thanks to turning it over on 26 percent of their possessions. Iowa State has done a decent job this year of turning teams over, but it was still a little disappointing to see Kansas turn it over so much, especially considering virtually every shot they took was a good one.
The Jayhawks scored 1.49 points per possession on possessions they didn’t turn it over last night, so rather than committing an error with a risky pass or risky drive, just take your time and get a good shot. Then again, it’s also a testament to the Kansas offense that they can turn it over on a fourth of their possessions and still be good enough to score 1.10 points per possession.
Defensively Kansas probably won’t get a ton of plaudits but I think they did a pretty good job, and it’s a testament to how much the Jayhawks want to see a bunch of teams that don’t attack the glass in the tournament. Obviously you can’t totally do this, but if you take away the breakaway steals Iowa State had (I remember six points but there may be more) the Jayhawks allowed .96 points per possession to one of the best offenses in the league on their home court.
As it is, allowing 1.04 points per trip, especially to an offense like that, is going to be good enough a lot of the time. Obviously Iowa State’s offense isn’t what it has been in the past, and they did a lot of standing around, but it still ranks third in the league. It’s fair to point out the Cyclones missed some good looks from three, but for the most part Kansas did a good job forcing them into a lot of tough looks (even the open mid range jumpers were good shots to give up), and the Jayhawks allowed ISU to rebound just 23 percent of their misses, effectively ratcheting up the pressure by ensuring every miss was going to result in a change of possession.
- Devonte Graham: A-. Graham was 2-5 on twos and 1-3 from three, but made the free throw to seal it, and also had 8 assists to just 2 turnovers. He also had 2 steals. I thought he did a pretty good job on Monte Morris as well. Morris had a pretty good game overall (6-11 on twos, 3-4 from three, 7 assists, 3 turnovers) but he had to make a few really tough shots to get to those numbers.
- Frank Mason: B+. I took whichever grade I was going to give him and then bumped it up a bit due to him playing basically a half injured. It’s not the way I wanted to get him 7 minutes of rest. Mason finished 5-9 on twos, 2-3 from three, and had 6 rebounds.
- Svi Mykhailiuk: B. Svi shot the ball well (2-2 on twos, 3-5 from three) and had 6 rebounds, but he struggled a bit defensively.
- Landen Lucas: B. Lucas did well offensively, going 7-9 from the field, but also committed 4 turnovers. I did think he played well defensively however. There was some talk last night about him having just 6 rebounds (though to be fair a lot of that talk was from Lucas himself) but in a game where there basically aren’t any contested rebounds, Lucas not having a ton of defensive rebounds doesn’t worry me. In fact, it’s probably better strategy for him to worry only about boxing out the only guy under the basket and letting his teammates grab the rebounds.
- Josh Jackson: C-. Jackson finished with 6 points and 8 rebounds, but was just 3-9 on twos, missed 2 threes badly, and had 4 turnovers. He’s trying to do a bit too much right now, which isn’t the worst thing, but he should also be fined whenever taking a shot outside of about 3 feet. With all of the offensive talent around him, a Jackson three or wild missed hook (Although if he makes both back to back they could be called the Jackson 5) isn’t the shot Kansas needs.
- Lagerald Vick: C+. Vick had 3 turnovers and didn’t make a three, but was 4-4 on twos, had 3 assists, a steal, and 5 rebounds.
- Carlton Bragg: B-. Bragg missed a couple bunnies that he should have made, but still was 5-9 and had 5 offensive rebounds in 15 minutes. His hands are not very good at the moment, but once they get there he’s going to take off.