Fittingly, I am going to start with the defense. Kansas turned out a performance straight out of 2013, allowing the 2nd best offense in the league to score just .84 points per possession and allowing the best 2-point shooting team in the league to shoot just 39.5 percent inside the arc. Kansas State struggled shooting from deep as well (22.2 percent), but the Jayhawks consistently forced guarded mid range jumpers, and then got the rebound afterwards (25% offensive rebound rate allowed). They got murdered in the turnover battle, but they did what Bill Self has been begging them to do all year: force a tough shot and then get the rebound. Kansas also did a great job with its zone (despite its simplicity) of forcing a lot of guarded jumpers. I made this point on Twitter last night, but I have a theory that this year’s team would be a better zone defensive team than man to man because, for all their strides on the ball, Svi and Vick still get lost off the ball and a zone helps you stay tethered to an area rather than wandering around when you lose your man in a man to man scheme.
Offensively, meanwhile, Kansas came out and scorched the nets in the first half, but went ice cold in the second. For the game, their shooting numbers were definitely good enough to win (46 percent from two, 45 percent from three), and they did a good job getting to the line, but the Jayhawks turned it over way too often. Even though the Wildcats are very good at forcing turnovers, Kansas turned it over 24 percent of its possessions, and it’s tough to force that many turnovers without some “help” from the offense.
- Devonte Graham was just 1-5 on twos, but consistently got to the rim, which is evidenced by his 8-8 night from the line. He also was 2-5 from deep. He could have looked to pass a bit more once he got into the lane, but 11 assists despite that is certainly nothing to sneeze at.
- Malik Newman had one of his best nights as a Jayhawk, scoring 13 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. He also had a conference season high 3 assists.
- Svi Mykhailiuk was 5-9 from three and had the play of the game with a chase down block early in the first half.
- Lagerald Vick snapped out of his slump a bit, going 3-5 from two, 1-2 from deep, and 2-4 from the line.
- Udoka Azubuike had just 6 points and struggled with fouls all night. He also committed 3 turnovers.
- Mitch Lightfoot had 3 huge blocked shots, and 3 offensive rebounds.
- Sam Cunliffe had a really athletic lay in, but airballed a three and struggled in most of his minutes.
- Marcus Garrett had one of his weaker games, with a turnover and 3 fouls in 4 minutes.
- Silvio de Sousa played just 2 minutes, with a foul and a turnover.