If the season opener was a sign of things to come for the Jayhawks, then hopefully Thursday’s game against North Dakota State was a giant, flashing arrow pointing toward things to come. Whether it be from losing a lot of production or just simply not having a lot of time on the court together, I have seen many Kansas teams (along with almost every high level team at one point or another) struggle to find their footing early in the season. These first few games are usually a bit sloppy while the freshmen, transfers, and whatever else is new works through the kinks of playing together. While their have been a handful of those moments for the Jayhawks through their first 80 minutes of meaningful basketball, there has been a LOT of positives.
The score looks almost identical to the opener, 82-59 as opposed to 89-64, this game was much more in control from the jump. Kansas led by nine after just five and a half minutes of game time. The lead grew to 18 by the under eight timeout, and climbed to 29 by halftime. The stats at the intermission are some of the most lopsided I have ever seen.
The Bison had more turnovers than they had made baskets, didn’t attempt a single free throw, and were out-rebounded by 13. They didn’t make a shot inside the arc until the eight minute mark. Meanwhile, Kansas shot 50 percent from deep, had 12 assists, and turned the ball over just four times. Those stats are crazy, but to watch the display was even crazier. The Jayhawks were absolutely suffocating on defense, making life miserable for whoever NDSU would throw out they. They had very few comfortable possessions, leading to a lot of transition baskets for Kansas. With how athletic this team is, they need to live in transition, and that is exactly what they did.
The final stats looked better than they did at halftime for the Bison, but that still isn’t saying much. They shot just 36 percent from the field (28 percent from deep) and had more turnovers than assists. The only negative for the Jayhawks, as I mentioned in my recap of their season opener, was their free throw shooting. They got to the line 10 times and made just five of them. Again, not important in this game, but shooting more and better free throws is crucial to winning big games. Speaking of big games, the next time Kansas takes the floor will be Tuesday night in the Champions Classic, where they’ll go to battle against seventh ranked Duke.