Kansas won yet another Big 12 opener despite falling behind by as much as 7 in the second half, which is a gigantic lead when the winning team scores just 58 points. The Jayhawks came all the way back by switching to a 2-3 zone which flummoxed Texas Tech and kept them without a field goal for more than 5 minutes.
Then at the end of the game it was vintage Bill Self. The Jayhawks scored with another brilliant call by Self out of a time out and then forced the Red Raiders into an awful shot on the other end as the clock expired.
The Jayhawks scored just 0.9 points per possession, but contrary to what I thought, their 2-point offense wasn’t the main culprit. It wasn’t great, but the Jayhawks shot 45 percent from two, which will win some games as long as they don’t get killed on the glass and via the turnover. But they did. Kansas grabbed just 21 percent of its misses and turned it over on a whopping 25 percent of its possessions, with a lot of them of the unforced variety as the Red Raiders were making their comeback in the 2nd half (not to mention the handful of awful charge calls).
But Kansas managed to shoot 33 percent from behind the arc, and 40 percent from non Marcus Garrett shooters (although if Garrett is going to be left alone like that he should keep shooting them), and even though they got a tough whistle, made the most of their opportunities at the line, going 14-15.
Defensively, even though Texas Tech isn’t a good offensive team, Kansas deserves a lot of credit for how well they played. They held Texas Tech to just 36 percent shooting inside the arc, and on the biggest possession of the game almost forced a turnover (which was saved by a late timeout call), and then forced Tech into an awful guarded turnaround jumper.
Although it didn’t look pretty, Kansas actually did a really good job on the glass, allowing Tech to rebound just 27 percent of its misses. Though the Red Raiders did get a lot of offensive rebounds (13), that’s because they missed a whopping 42 shots (plus 7 free throws). I would like to see the Jayhawks force more turnovers just because of how lethal they are in transition, but it’s tough to see them losing with the kind of defensive numbers they had last night.
- Marcus Garrett had 10 points, 10 rebounds, and 4 assists, which might be the quietest double double I can remember. He missed a couple open threes badly, but in games where Kansas is struggling to score inside, and turning it over on a fourth of its possessions, an open three, even from a 30 percent shooter, is often the best shot, so I say keep shooting them.
- Ochai Agbaji had maybe his best game of the year in a time when Kansas absolutely needed it. He was 4-7 from deep and had a couple nice drives to the basket attacking the defense as well. Also, just 1 turnover.
- Christian Braun meanwhile had maybe his worst game in a KU uniform, missing all of his threes and committing 4 turnovers. He did have 10 rebounds though.
- Jalen Wilson started off hot, and had a huge layup off the top of the glass late in the game, but I think being pulled in the first half with 2 fouls upset his rhythm a bit. One of the fouls was a horrible charge call and Wilson hasn’t been a foul machine this season, committing just 3.4 per 40 minutes, so I think Self should have left him in.
- David McCormack had some nice minutes to start the 2nd half, but finished just 3-10 from the field with 3 turnovers, and too often tried to score through or over double teams. He also gets attacked repeatedly on ball screens and I think that as much as anything is what helped make the decision to go zone late. I think we are at the point where he just can’t play any more than spot minutes (or you take him out after his first awful hook shot).
- Dajuan Harris had 3 assists and 2 turnovers (one was an awful charge call, so tough to blame him for that one) and made a huge 3 in the second half while playing some pretty good defense.
- Bryce Thompson struggled again offensively, going 0-1 from the field and not getting a single rebound or assist. He did make a couple nice off the ball defensive plays, which should keep earning him playing time.
- Mitch Lightfoot, who should be starting, played just 7 minutes and was 1-2 from the field.
- Tristan Enaruna played 4 minutes and got beat defensively a couple times. He’s another guy who, despite his athleticism, I don’t really get it. He isn’t a good shooter, makes some bad decisions, and isn’t a great passer or defender. Then again I had those same complaints about Agbaji and look at him now.
- Tyon Grant-Foster played 4 minutes, was 1-2 from the field, and had a pair of rebounds and a block, although it looks like he didn’t get credit for the block in the boxscore.