Only a garbage time three at the buzzer kept Kansas from allowing fewer than a point per possession against Iowa State, but there were still some positives (and yes, some negatives) to take away from the performance on that end of the floor last night.
For starters, the Cyclones shot just 47 percent on twos and even though it seemed like (to me anyway) they rebounded nearly every one of their own missed shots, Iowa State only grabbed 30 percent of their misses. Couple that with Kansas forcing turnovers on 22 percent of Iowa State’s possessions, and it was a pretty good effort from the Jayhawks, all things considered.
The bad news, of course, is Iowa State shot 41 percent from three. Sometimes that is a bit of bad luck, but last night it was more poor defensive rotations leaving good shooters wide open (looking at you, Svi). The guards certainly deserve some of the blame for getting beaten off the dribble initially, but without the overhelping issue, Iowa State could have been forced into a lot of tough floaters and/or shots over Udoka Azubuike and Mitch Lightfoot. Instead, guys help off shooters and pay for it. Still, it was a decent step forward and if the Jayhawks bring that performance every night defensively, their offense is good enough to get them a lot of wins.
Speaking of offense, Kansas scored 1.08 points per possession, which is nice until you realize they shot 58 percent on twos, 39 percent on threes, and turned it over on just 13 percent of their possessions. When viewing it through that lens, 1.08 PPP seems low. Kansas also took more threes than twos last night, and (feel free to screen shot this and send it to a psychologist) I think they should have taken more twos.
When you have a guy like Udoka Azubuike with the type of matchup advantage he had last night, I think you need to get him more shots. Not only is it basically free points, it helps keep him engaged on the glass and defensive end of the floor as well. All told, Kansas scored 1.16 points per every 2 pointer they shot and 1.17 points per every 3, so it’s a bit of a wash, but considering shots at the rim are less volatile, I would have liked to have seen more shots in that area last night.
- Devonte Graham had maybe his worst game of the year, getting killed defensively and going 2-7 from both two and three. Still, he had 9 assists to just 2 turnovers and 4 steals. As excited as I am for next year’s roster as a whole, it’s going to be an adjustment period to not be able to depend on having a transcendent point guard.
- Svi Mykhailiuk started out hot, and played well offensively all game. He finished 2-4 on twos and 6-9 from behind the arc, but if he doesn’t get a handle on his off ball defense, it’s going to kill the Jayhawks going forward.
- Lagerald Vick didn’t make a three, but found a way to impact the game anyway going 4-6 on twos, grabbing 8 rebounds, dishing out 4 assists, and nabbing a pair of steals.
- Udoka Azubuike was 4-5 from the field and also had 4 blocks. He needs to get the ball more.
- Marcus Garrett made a three(!) and also had an assist and a steal. He wasn’t huge on the glass, but did a pretty good job defensively again, if maybe a bit of a step back from his effort against TCU.
- Malik Newman had the game of the night, going 5-8 from two and 5-13 from three. He also led the team with 8 offensive rebounds and had 2 blocks, including maybe the play of the night when he blocked a Donovan Jackson three.
- Mitch Lightfoot had a block and a rebound.
- Sam Cunliffe played just 2 minutes, getting yanked after each mistake. Probably not the way to build his confidence or get him prepared to contribute in March.