Much like a week ago against Kansas State, the Jayhawks turned in a vintage performance against TCU in holding the Horned Frogs to just .97 points per possession, the first time a Big 12 opponent has held the Frogs under a point per trip this season.
The Jayhawks mostly did it via the defensive glass, allowing TCU to rebound a paltry 29 percent of its misses. Just as helpful was the Jayhawks allowing the Frogs to shoot just 40 percent from two; this pair of stats allowed Kansas to withstand a 10-25 effort from TCU from three. While KU was due for some 3-point luck regression, unlike the Oklahoma State game that was less regression and more Kansas doing a poor job following the scouting report, constantly leaving good shooters open for open threes. TCU is the best offensive team in the league for a reason, and while its ball movement would have flummoxed most defenses last night, Kansas has done a poor job defending shooters all season, and they almost got burned for it last night. However, one has to be encouraged by the effort on the glass and the ability to get stops on key possessions.
Offensively the numbers didn’t look great, with Kansas scoring just 1.08 points per possession. However, the Jayhawks missed quite a few open threes, shooting just 33 percent from deep. With the way TCU runs teams off the arc and limits 3-point attempts, it is definitely a good sign the Jayhawks were able to get so many off. The off-ball movement improved a ton in the second half as well, and the Jayhawks were able to generate quite a few easy looks at the rim for Udoka Azubuike. Kansas likely won’t have many more games where they shoot like that, and it is another encouraging sign that they were able to win with Svi Mykhailiuk basically being a no show.
- Devonte Graham had a nice bounce back game, going 5-9 from three, although you can definitely tell playing 40 minutes per night is wearing on him, as he is getting beat semi-consistently on defense and is struggling to finish inside the arc. He also missed 3 free throws last night which, sample size aside, you wouldn’t expect from Graham.
- Svi Mykhailiuk attempted just 2 shots last night, and consistently left guys open on the perimeter defensively. The defensive issues have been a thing for his entire career, but this was the fewest field goal attempts for Svi since March 4 of last season.
- Malik Newman also had a rough night shooting the ball, going 1-4 on twos and 0-5 from deep, but he did have 6 rebounds and 5 assists without turning it over.
- Udoka Azubuike was 6-10 from the field and 4-7 from the line. He also played pretty good defense all night, and Kansas was obviously a much better team with him in the game. As I said after the Oklahoma game, this is why you leave Azubuike in for free throws (until the last possession when defense doesn’t matter): if he makes even 1 per trip, there aren’t enough possessions for the other team to make up the difference, and it keeps your best defender on the floor on the other end. If he’s shooting 40 percent it’s admittedly a bit tougher of a call, but if this latest uptick and tweak in shooting form gets him to 50 percent, it’s a no brainer. The one downside to his game last night was the two early fouls, which caused Self to sit him for roughly 7 minutes of the first half. TCU managed to come all the way back and take the lead in the first half, and Azubuike picked up just one foul the rest of the way.
- Mitch Lightfoot put in a nice shift in his first career start, with 6 points, 4 rebounds, and a pair of blocks. He struggled a bit with off-ball defense, but did a pretty good job when he got matched up on the ball.
- Lagerald Vick took awhile to get going, but eventually responded fairly well to the public shaming by Bill Self. He was 3-6 inside the arc and 4-4 from the line, and while he was 0-3 from three he at least took them. He also scored on a couple of nice cuts to the basket, which I’m sure is something Self was begging to see.
- Marcus Garrett was 2-2 from three somehow, and also 2-2 inside the arc. He did, however, lose Desmond Bane twice in a row, which led to 6 quick points for TCU in the second half, which is something he needs to improve upon.