So that happened.
Kansas was down 41-25 after a Udoka Azubuike technical foul caused Bill Self to sit him for the majority of the first half. Keeping in mind that Kansas had a win probability of just 4.2 percent with 8:54 to go in the second half, the Jayhawks stormed all the way back and won their first game in Morgantown since I graduated.
Offensively, the Jayhawks were done in by a bit of hard luck in that they only shot 35 percent from three, but shooting 50 percent on twos against one of the more stout interior defenses (especially with the rim protection show put on by Sagaba Konate) is nothing to sneeze at. The Jayhawks managed the press reasonably well, turning it over on just 19 percent of their possessions (and did really well in the second half other than a pair of Svi brain farts and one on the part of Devonte Graham).
Probably most importantly, most of the Jayhawks’ turnovers were dead ball turnovers, which didn’t allow West Virginia to get lot of easy baskets to help out their offense.
Speaking of which, in some ways this was Kansas’s best defensive performance of the year. Kansas held the Mountaineers to just .96 points per possession. However, it’s fair to say there are still some kinks to iron out. For starters, West Virginia shot 57 percent on twos. It’s fair to point out that good offensive rebounding teams have an artificially inflated 2-point shooting percentage because put backs are easier to make than “normal” twos, and because some of the first misses are threes, but even so it is way too high of a percentage to give up.
Kansas actually did an OK job on the glass, holding West Virginia to right around its season average in allowing the Mountaineers to grab 36.8 percent of their misses. I think it’s also fair to say Kansas got a bit lucky in terms of West Virginia shooting just 5-27 from deep, but while 3-point shooting is moreso in the control of the offense, Kansas did do a good job at forcing some tough looks.
- Devonte Graham played all 40 minutes, did an excellent job on Jevon Carter defensively, and while he wasn’t perfect offensively, shot 50 percent from both 2 and 3, and added 6 assists. After a tough first half he really came out and put his stamp on the game and definitely won the point guard battle.
- Svi Mykhailiuk struggled to take care of the ball, committing 5 turnovers, but he did have 5 assists and was 3-6 from three. I also thought that while he doesn’t have a ton of length in terms of his frame, his height and relative length bothered Carter quite a bit when he was matched up with him.
- Malik Newman struggled a bit offensively, going 1-5 from two and 1-4 from three. He continued his good play defensively, but it would be nice to see another outburst from him on the other end as well.
- Marcus Garrett really struggled offensively as well, but he didn’t turn the ball over which was huge for the Jayhawks. He turned down some open looks from deep, which I think he probably needs to take even if he’s only going to shoot 30 percent on them.
- Udoka Azubuike struggled with fouls, including ones he shouldn’t have committed, and ones didn’t commit but got called for, but when he was in he was a force. Azubuike was 5-5 from the field and had 9 rebounds, and per the Athletic’s CJ Moore, was a +22 in the game.
- Lagerald Vick was 3-6 from two but just 1-6 from three and appears to be going through a bit of a slump there. He also had 3 rebounds and 2 assists.
- Mitch Lightfoot played well in relief of Azubuike, going 3-7 with 5 rebounds, including a team high 3 offensive rebounds.
- Silvio De Sousa played just 7 minutes, but while he struggled early, he also adapted quickly. He had 2 offensive boards in those 7 minutes, played some pretty good defense (except his first possession), and had a nice spin move for a layup. He’s going to be good.