Last night’s 65-61 win over Kentucky wasn’t exactly the performance Jayhawk Nation was hoping for, and it was ugly, but an ugly win is still a win.
The Jayhawks struggled to get any sort of rhythm going throughout last night’s game, but a few bright spots came through. Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk scored seven of his team-high 17 points in the first three minutes of the game, and KU did a good job exploiting Kentucky’s poor on-the-ball defense in the first 10 minutes of the game, but quickly fell in love the the jump shot once Kentucky made adjustments.
Kansas did an excellent job rebounding in the first half. Not so much in the second half, though. Malik Newman, surprisingly, finished with nine rebounds for the game, despite Kentucky’s superior length and size. The difference in the game was the Jayhawks’ ability to win in the 50/50 category. They were able to beat Kentucky to more loose balls and turn them into points, which is how you win ugly.
The team’s lackluster shooting performance can be attributed to poor shot selection and eventual intimidation from Kentucky’s length, which caused them to abandon driving to the lane. Bottom line, Devonte’ Graham has to be better offensively. He can’t shoot 3-of-14 and turn the ball over five times, and the team has to trust the offense and not get shot-happy. This team is too athletic and too experienced to get taken out of their game as easily as they were tonight.
1) Oh, Billy.
For the second straight game, Billy Preston was a DNP due to a car accident that took place on campus. There’s more to it, but for now it’s all just speculation. Preston needs to figure it out. To finally get to the season and not take care of your responsibilities with this whole car accident on top of missing class and curfew is inexcusable. Billy, you came to Kansas, partly, because you knew Self would be tough on you. It’s time you think of your brothers and how much they need you out there with them.
2) SVI! SVI! SVI!
Svi played his tail off in front of 75 scouts and NBA personal. SVI scored 17, hoping to leave no doubt in their minds that he belongs in the league. Considering he’s a senior in college and not of legal drinking age, Svi offers tons of experience at such a young age. Svi waited until the very last day to pull his name out of last year’s draft, hoping games like this could help elevate his draft stock.
3) Devonte’: “I shot the ball like crap.”
You sure did, Devonte’. However, one can only applaud Graham’s ownership of what Self called a “deplorable” shooting night. Graham fell in love with his jump shot and he was careless with the ball, finishing the game with five turnovers. This is all out of character for him. However, he has been a leader since he stepped on campus and it is clearly his time. The important thing is that KU got the W. Look for Devonte’ to bounce back next week against South Dakota State.