Las Vegas, NV – The Kansas Jayhawks went into Las Vegas and handled business by jumping out to an early 18-7 lead and defeating UNLV 71-53. With the victory, the Jayhawks have now won 11 straight since their season opening loss to Indiana. On a night where Kansas shot only 44 percent from the field, well below their season average of 52 percent, they used outstanding defense to control the game from start to finish. Kansas held UNLV to just 34 percent shooting on the night. UNLV didn’t help themselves by turning it over 13 times and going just 10-of-24 from the free throw line.
Usually everything with Kansas starts with their outstanding backcourt leaders of Frank Mason and Devonte’ Graham. Mason has led the team in scoring nine of the 11 games this season averaging 20.3 ppg. Neither one shot the ball well with Mason going 4-of-11 with 13 points and eight assists while Graham was just 2-of-9 with 4 points. Usually those lines would mean trouble for the Jayhawks but they were able to overcome the poor backcourt shooting night because of the performances of Josh Jackson and Svi Mykhailuk. Mykhailuk, a 19 year old 6-8 junior wing from Ukraine, nearly matched a career high with 20 points on 8-of-14 shooting including 4-of-6 from beyond the arc. He has a textbook looking jumpshot that is smooth and deadly accurate but he also showed the ability to put the ball on the floor with both hands and get to the basket. He is a very complete offensive player who will only continue to improve and be a big part of the offense going forward.
Freshman phenom Jackson carried a big load on this night as well. He has a very smooth, controlled game has the ability to not just score but impact the game in a variety of ways. He was 9-of-16 for 21 points which included, dunks, drives, jumpers and scoring from the high and low post. He is also a very willing defender and rebounder, grabbing nine on the night. He is the team leader in rebounding and steals thus far. He has struggled so far this season from the foul line shooting just 56 percent for the season and was 2-of-5 vs. the Rebels.
With 7-footer Udoka Azubuike out for the season with a wrist injury, Kansas adjusted the lineup by going with the two guards, two wings and only one post player using a lot of 4-out motion sets. By doing so, they created a lot of driving lanes which they were able to take advantage of. They rarely threw the ball in the post instead opting for more drives to the basket. Of the post players, Landen Lucas got the start and played well defensively, leading the game with 12 rebounds. He was a factor all night on the glass as he used his size, strength and anticipation to be disruptive all night long.
The Rebels struggled all night long to get good quality shots. The Jayhawk defense disrupted their offense effectively taking away ball screen opportunities that forced a lot of contested jumpshots. Tyrell Green led the team with 12 points and chipped in seven rebounds. Kris Clyburn had a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds. He flashed some explosiveness and athleticism on a few occasions getting to the basket. Guard Jalen Poyser had 10 points, six rebounds and four assists. He is a solid player still learning how to be a point guard but will continue to improve as that position. The Rebels fell behind by 22 at half by only shooting 29 percent from the field, 1-of-12 from 3-point range and 5-of-16 from the free throw line.
Kansas will be back in action December 30th when they open up Big 12 play at TCU. The Jayhawks are seeking their 13th consecutive Big 12 Conference Championship. UNLV opens up Mountain West Conference play by going to Colorado State on December 28th.
This article was written by Joe Trabucco, a correspondent and scout for NetScouts Basketball. You can subscribe to our RSS feed from the upper right corner of our home page, follow us on Facebook, or on twitter.
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