Safe to say I didn’t see that coming. In 40 minutes Kansas knocked West Virginia out of the top-10 defenses in the land, all the way back to 18th, by scoring a frankly shocking 1.32 points per possession. The Jayhawks attempted more threes (37) than twos (26), shot 43 percent from deep, and also rebounded over half their misses. They also limited their turnovers relative to what West Virginia forces (roughly 18 percent of their possessions last night ended in a giveaway), as the Jayhawks showed their 2020-21 ceiling may be higher than previously thought.
Of course, Marcus Garrett isn’t going to go 3-3 from three every game, and Christian Braun won’t go 6-12. But by taking so many threes (and many of them being of the wide open variety) the Jayhawks showed that such an onslaught was possible. They also showed that putting that kind of a pressure on the defense to close out on shooters hard every time they catch the ball often leads to closer looks from inside as well, and if the Jayhawks showcase the same type of passing ability going forward that they did last night, they may be onto something.
Again, they’re not going to shoot 43 percent from three every night, but all you need to equal 50 percent shooting from two is to shoot just 33 percent from three, and with the Jayhawks under that mark from two for the season, I think it makes sense to shoot a lot more threes, just like they did last night.
Defensively, Kansas allowed West Virginia to score 1.08 points per possession. A lot of the criticism there should go to the defensive rebounding, as the Mountaineers grabbed 47 percent of their misses. Obviously as a team that depends heavily on getting offensive rebounds, it’s not the worst sin in the world to give up a lot of them to them, but it is something to watch to see if it continues. For now, I think it’s safe to say more credit goes to West Virginia for crashing the glass well than blame goes to Kansas for letting them do so.
Elsewhere, Kansas allowed the Mountaineers to shoot 45 percent from two, right around their season average but a bit lower than I thought it would be given their size inside and KU’s lack thereof.
- Marcus Garrett had a bit of a quieter game overall, but 3-3 from three is huge and while teams will likely always give him those open threes, he’s also quietly 7-16 from three this year.
- Ochai Agbaji notched a double double with 11 points and 10 rebounds, and I liked that he kept firing away from three despite going just 3-10. The turnovers were admittedly a bit unsightly, but I think Kansas needs him to stay aggressive so they’ll probably live with them.
- Christian Braun bounced back in a major way from a couple slow games, with 22 points (6-12 from three) and 7 assists.
- David McCormack also had a bounceback game with 10 points and 11 rebounds, and was 4-9 from the field which might as well be Azubuike numbers compared to what he has done this season. Somehow he was able to get deeper post position against West Virginia’s big men than he has against many teams’ smaller big men. He still got caught out on screens way too often and really needs some work in that area, but baby steps.
- Jalen Wilson was 4-10 from three and 2-4 from two (which rules), and had the 2nd most assists on the team with 4. He also had 7 rebounds.
- Bryce Thompson can’t seem to get it going, going 1-2 from two but 0-2 from three including an airball. I suspect one of Kansas’s missions during this little mini break will be to try to fix his shot a bit as best they can midseason, because he needs it.
- Dajuan Harris had 1 assist in 9 minutes, but played some pretty good on ball perimeter defense as well.
- Mitch Lightfoot played 8 minutes with 2 rebounds. He got bodied a bit on the glass and defensively, which is definitely the main concern with him as the lone big man in those lineups.
- Tristan Enaruna had a block and a charge in a minute of playing time.