So that sucked. Kansas came out flat against Washington, didn’t play hard or well, and took a deserving loss against a terrible Washington team that dealt a huge blow to their chances of getting a 1 seed in March.
Even though the Jayhawks scored .93 points per possession, I don’t think the offense was as bad as the internet seemed to. I do think they should have gotten Devonte Graham involved in the middle of the zone a bit more, but they were consistently able to get the ball into dangerous areas via Lagerald Vick. They also shot 55 percent on twos and turned it over on 18.6 percent of their possessions. You should win with those numbers. Given that Kansas shot 5-20 from three, and a lot of those were makeable looks, it’s fair to wonder whether there’s something to this team’s ability to shoot outside of Allen Fieldhouse, or against bigger teams, but we probably won’t know until midway through Big 12 play or so.
Defensively was the much bigger issue. Kansas allowed 1.06 points per trip to a Washington team that hadn’t scored a point per trip against top 50 competition this season (or beaten a top 50 opponent in over 2 years). Although I disagree with the assessment some had that Bill Self got outcoached, one major blunder was taking Udoka Azubuike out of the game in the first half when he had 2 fouls. Azubuike did a good job controlling the lane on both ends of the floor, and finished with just 3 fouls. This is also an area in which not having Billy Preston hurt. Kansas was afraid to foul Washington, so the second half turned into letting them get a ton of good looks. It’s fair to point out the Huskies shot nearly 10 percent over their season average from deep, but that doesn’t excuse letting them shoot over 50 percent on twos and allowing them to pass the ball around the perimeter (and inside) without being bothered.
In all, it’s a bad loss, but probably not one that makes any larger point about this team. It’s no surprise 18-22 year old kids aren’t going to play hard (or well) every game, and clearly Washington was more fired up for this one than Kansas was. It is fair to say, though, that if Kansas doesn’t get Preston back, and doesn’t get de Sousa at semester, that we will see this type of game play out a lot more before the season is over.
- Devonte Graham missed all 5 of his threes, and was just 1-3 on twos, which overshadowed his 5 assist, 1 turnover performance. It’s fair to say his assists were a bit inflated, though, considering he had easy passes into Vick all night.
- Lagerald Vick, speaking of, was 12-21 on twos with 7 assists and 4 turnovers. You’d like to see him make a couple more considering where he usually caught the ball, and maybe like to see a couple more assists, but I do think people who are pegging him as the problem last night are off base.
- Svi Mykhailiuk had his worst game of the year, fouling out after scoring 8 points on 12 shots and committing 3 turnovers.
- Malik Newman was horrific, with 8 points on 6 shots, and not really getting involved in the offense (or defense) otherwise. It reminded me a bit of the ever so often Wayne Selden disappearance special.
- Marcus Garrett had 3 steals, but struggled in the middle of the zone offensively. He was just 1 of 3 overall, and committed 2 turnovers.
- Mitch Lightfoot had a couple of nice dunks, and had 6 rebounds. He struggled with fouls and defensively at times, but I think earned more playing time than the 8 minutes he got.
- Clay Young also played 8 minutes, but couldn’t replicate the magic of the Syracuse game. I don’t think he played poorly, but him being at the baseline in the zone offense allowed Washington to basically ignore him and play 2 on 1 against Vick, which hurt.