Well that game won’t exactly go in any museums. Kansas played what likely will be its worst offensive game of the year, scoring .93 points per possession. Needless to say, Kentucky was even worse offensively, scoring just .87 points per trip. Still, I think the Jayhawks aren’t getting enough credit for toughing the game out and winning a game in which they played horribly, and also for the number of open looks they were able to generate, even against Kentucky’s length.
In the first half, the Jayhawks were able to get to the rim somewhat at will, but had trouble finishing over Kentucky’s length. In the second, however, they turned those attacks into more drive and kick opportunities for open jumpers (except when Malik Newman went 1 on 3 on fast breaks for some reason), but the Jayhawks just missed shots.
Kansas probably won’t win many games in which they shoot under 30 percent from three, and probably won’t win many games in which they shoot 40 percent on twos, much less both, but they managed to do so last night. Fortunately, they won’t have many games in which they shoot under 30 percent from three. What they will have is more games against teams with equal or more length and athleticism than they have (looking at you, Texas) and they need to have the confidence in their gameplan to keep firing those open threes.
Kansas largely stayed afloat in the first half due to their offensive rebounding, grabbing 18 for the game, rebounding 38 percent of their misses. They also held Kentucky to just 32 percent of their misses, right around where I thought they needed to be when I wrote the preview yesterday. They also took advantage of Kentucky’s youth, forcing turnovers on 26 percent of their possessions, while turning it over on only 16 percent of theirs. Because of that, Kansas got to attempt a whopping 13 more field goals than the Wildcats, which won them the game.
- Devonte Graham was awful, and admitted he shot like crap in the postgame interview. In all, he was 2-8 on twos and 1-6 from three, while committing 5 turnovers. He played well enough defensively, and even though he struggled with Kentucky’s length, he was able to get good shots (in the second half), they just didn’t go in.
- Lagerald Vick was maybe Kansas’ best player in the first half, and finished 3-9 on twos and 1-4 from three. He also had 5 assists and just 1 turnover.
- Udoka Azubuike made all 5 of his field goal attempts, had 8 rebounds, 2 blocks, and consistently defended well both in the interior and on the perimeter. He’s going to be too much for pretty much anyone to handle this year, so long as he can stay on the floor.
- Malik Newman took it into traffic a bit too often, but had a few nice possessions defensively and hit the biggest three of the game. He also led the team with 8 defensive rebounds.
- Svi Mykhailiuk had one of the best games of his career, which is weird to say when he went 3-10 from three, but he was active on offense, really good defensively, and added 3 assists to just 1 turnover. He took and made some big shots, and because of the big games he’s played over the course of his career, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the ball in his hands a lot in big spots.
- Marcus Garrett held his own offensively, but came up with some huge plays on defense. He had a couple of freshman mistake turnovers, but to have him already defending at the level he is is pretty impressive.
- Mitch Lightfoot played 6 minutes and had a steal.