One of the themes of this Kansas basketball season has been the lack of a classic rim-protector. For the better part of six years, the Jayhawks have played with an elite shot-blocker in the middle, from Cole Aldrich to Jeff Withey to Joel Embiid. (The one exception was the 2010-11 season, when a sophomore Withey played sparingly, and the Jayhawks terrorized opponents with a Morrii/Thomas Robinson frontcourt.)
So in the months leading up to the season, it was a trendy question: How would the Kansas defense survive without a safety net in the back? The answer, at least from a rim-protection standpoint, is surprisingly well.
Through 19 games, the Jayhawks averaged a respectable 4.8 blocks per game. And in the last two games — victories against TCU and K-State — Kansas has cranked up its rim-protection game even more. The Jayhawks averaged 9.5 blocks against TCU and K-State, and for the most part, it has been an equal opportunity block show for Bill Self.
Against TCU, seven KU players had at least one block, with Jamari Traylor and Landen Lucas swatting three shots apiece. On then on Saturday, sophomore guard Wayne Selden doubled his career high with four blocks while Kansas blocked 15.2 percent of K-State’s shots inside the three-point line.
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As you might expect from a 6-foot-5 guard, most of Selden’s blocks came in the open floor. But, yes, they are worth a second look. To the GIFs!
Late in the first half, Selden met K-State’s Justin Edwards at the basket and tossed a shot toward the media sitting on the baseline.
Here it is from a different angle:
Selden added another athletic swat in the second half, chasing down Wesley Iwundu in transition and denying a dunk attempt at the rim.
After Saturday’s victory, Kansas now ranks 33rd nationally in block percentage (13.6), meaning they are blocking 13.6 percent of opponent’s two-point field-goal attempts. For KU, that number doesn’t quite match up to recent years. From 2012-14, the Jayhawks maintained a steady presence in the top 20, never falling below 14.5 in block percentage. But for a team that starts two undersized power forwards in the frontcourt, the Jayhawks have found a way to adequately protect the rim.
The moment of the game
OK. This really has nothing to do with Kansas’ victory on Saturday. But the Chalkboard wanted to point out two things. This is freshman guard Devonte’ Graham picking up a technical after taunting K-State sophomore Marcus Foster.
A couple things: It’s not the best look, but Graham has a reputation as a nice guy. Self likes to say he might be the most popular kid on campus, and KU’s coach didn’t seem too worked up about the technical after the game. But if you’re going to pick up a tech, there are probably better places to do so than right in front of your coach. The best part: Graham’s reaction. “What did I do?”
The player of the game
Perry Ellis was an offensive force on Saturday; he hit seven of nine from the floor and his offensive rating was a team-high 126. But the Chalkboard is most interested in Brannen Greene’s burgeoning run at the KU record for three-point field-goal percentage. After Saturday, Greene is now shooting 50 percent (27 of 54) from three-point range for the season. The current record: 50.5 percent, by Kirk Hinrich in 2002. According to the KU record book in the media guide, Greene will need a minimum of 60 attempts to qualify for the record, which shouldn’t be a problem.
KU record for three-point field-goal percentage (minimum 60 attempts)
The stat of the game
After K-State shot 33.3 percent on Saturday, Kansas has held its last four opponents (Oklahoma, Texas, TCU and K-State) to a combined 35.8 percent shooting.
A Bonus GIF