Kansas opened its Big 12 slate with a maybe-should-have-been-bigger (or maybe-could-have-been-closer) win over Oklahoma. The win gives Kansas an early leg up in the Big 12 race given that of the top four probable contenders (Kansas, Iowa State, Texas Tech, Oklahoma), Kansas nabbed a win over another top four team, while the other two beat two probable basement dwellers.
Of course, this is all nonsense after just one game, but if you’re that into the Big 12 race, congrats on Kansas having the early edge.
1. Quentin Grimes appears to be turning the corner.
I would have to watch him more closely on defense to know exactly how well he did on that end, but on offense he looked a lot more like the Grimes we expected. He got four attempts at the rim, moved the ball well on offense, drew a couple fouls in the post, and was great in the open floor. He was just 1-6 from three, and is now under 30 percent for the season, but the confidence to shoot six of them is encouraging.
2. Despite the numbers, Kansas played well offensively.
Kansas scored less than a point per possession, but the underlying numbers are encouraging. Kansas shot over 50 percent from two against one of the best two point defenses in the country, and even though their shooting numbers from three were not great, the Jayhawks were able to generate a ton of open, in-rhythm looks.
3. Dedric Lawson can impact the game even when not scoring at will.
Lawson finished with 13 points, but was 6-14 on twos and 0-3 from three. This should probably be a longer post, but with Udoka Azubuike in, the lane gets too clogged for Lawson to get easy looks at the rim, and he isn’t a good enough shooter to make teams pay for packing it in against him and Azubuike. But, Lawson made up for it by giving a lot extra on defense. He was good both on the perimeter and inside. He had 3 blocks, 11 defensive rebounds, and was good off the ball as well.
4. Marcus Garrett quietly had a nice offensive game.
Garrett played his usual good defense, but was also quietly pretty good offensively. He had just five points, but also five assists and just one turnover. With Devon Dotson not looking like a great passer, Garrett’s drive-and-pass ability becomes even more important.
5. This was probably KU’s best defensive performance of the season.
I think KU’s offense is paradoxically at its best when Udoka Azubuike isn’t in, because it allows Dedric Lawson the freedom to go to work in the post where he can take advantage of bigger, slower post players. But, the defense with both of them in was elite. The Jayhawks only allowed Oklahoma to get to the rim for 12 attempts. They also forced the Sooners to take 28 midrange jumpers, and the Sooners were just 11-28 from the midrange. Overall, they did a good job of making sure the right players (from KU’s perspective) took the right kind of shots (from KU’s perspective). The biggest test as to whether the defense is for real comes this weekend, however.