When the game started, I thought Kansas would need an unlucky day from three from the Spartans to avoid having a nailbiter type game. Turns out I underestimated the Jayhawks, who led by 5 at half despite the Spartans attempting roughly 43 percent of their shots from three and making 44 percent of them. When that did eventually even out, the Jayhawks were obviously able to pull away.
Kansas had a good day in its own right from three, but it was inside the arc that propelled the Jayhawks. Kansas shot 59 percent on twos (and 40 percent on threes to be fair) en route to scoring 1.29 points per possession. Kansas was able to take advantage of Michigan State not turning it over as well, committing turnovers on 10 percent of their possessions. Even though the Jayhawks didn’t do a great job on the offensive glass, it is honestly pretty tough to lose turning it over that little amount of times.
Kansas was consistently able to spread out Michigan State, who couldn’t handle the Jayhawks 1 on 1. Josh Jackson making multiple stepback jumpers was probably a bit of anomaly, but Frank Mason getting into the lane whenever he wanted and Kansas getting as many open looks inside probably wasn’t. I do wish Kansas would have taken more threes, but it is tough to fault them for not doing so when shooting 60 percent on twos.
Defensively, the Jayhawks allowed 1 point per possession. Some of that is Michigan State having some bad luck from three, but Josh Jackson did a great job on Miles Bridges, Landen Lucas did a great job inside, and Dwight Coleby did a great job filling in. The guards in general also did a pretty good job at taking away the things Michigan State liked to do, and were able to force quite a few tough jumpers.
I would have liked to have seen them force more turnovers than they did (14.3 percent of possessions), especially considering Michigan State turns the ball over so much, but they kept the Spartans off the glass (though in fairness a lot of that was due to MSU wanting to get back on D) and did enough defensively to allow the offense to go win it.
- Frank Mason was 6-12 from two and 8-8 from the line, with 5 assists and 0 turnovers. Even without making a three, he had a hell of a game. He was pretty good defensively as well.
- Josh Jackson wanted to have a good game against his childhood friends and boy did he, going 7-11 on twos and 2-5 from three. He also added 3 rebounds, 2 blocks, and 2 steals. Not half bad.
- Devonte Graham was 3-4 on twos, 4-6 from three, had 4 assists, and 3 steals. He was probably the Jayhawks’ best perimeter defender, and also was able to impact the game driving the lane, which isn’t his usual role.
- Svi Mykhailiuk was 1-3 from three, but 2-2 on twos and showed a good job attacking the basket. He also had 4 rebounds and 3 assists with no turnovers, which is key for him. Svi also looked a lot better defensively, and even challenged a couple corner threes without getting lost or committing a foul. (editor’s note: I had a huge blurb about him ready to go and then completely glossed over him in the boxscore. whoops).
- Landen Lucas had another game where he showed he is maybe the most valuable player on the roster, going 5-7 and adding 11 rebounds, all while playing great defense inside.
- Lagerald Vick had an up and down game, showing off his athleticism but struggling a bit with his shooting. He finished 2-5 on twos and 1-2 from three with 5 rebounds. He also had the temerity to show emotion after a huge alley oop and earned a technical.
- Dwight Coleby did a great job spelling Lucas, playing some tough defense and grabbing key rebounds. In all he had 3 points, 4 rebounds, and a steal.
- Carlton Bragg had 3 fouls and a rebound in 5 minutes. Not his best night.