After last night's game the attitude surrounding Kansas was fairly positive in Jayhawkland considering the 10 point loss to Kentucky. The reality of the situation is that Kentucky is one of the top two or three teams in the country this year and Kansas went into halftime with the game going playing more to their favor and the score in a manageable situation. Unfortunately things would turn in the second half, but that's college basketball. For Bill Self it was still a positive experience.
I'm not discouraged at all, we put ourselves in position to have a lead at halftime. We didn't get it (and), we didn't finish.
That seems to be the message this morning. Things were better than expected in some areas and worse than expected in others. This game, at least the first half, was very much a positive from a defensive perspective. Kansas created turnovers, they played solid man to man against a very athletic Kentucky basketball team and Jeff Withey stepped up as a presence on the interior.
On offense it was a slightly different story. Kansas had been a strong offensive team in three early season cupcakes but Bill Self expressed concern over the Jayhawks ability to score prior to the season. Against a long and far more athletic team in Kentucky, Kansas just wasn't able to get to the basket as often as they would have liked and they were struggling to get good looks, especially in the second half. That led to a bit of a shift in philosophy late and that shift led to a nice finish to the night for Tyshawn Taylor.
I thought Tyshawn competed hard. He was a competitive joker out there today. Our offense was so poor, we told 'em to spread it and drive it every time. It's why he got to the free-throw line so much.
It really boils down to Kansas being exactly what many fans and Kansas followers expected. This is a team that has good starting talent and a team that can compete when that group plays well. Further down the bench, things get a little more dicey. Facing their first big time opponent, Kansas wasn't on point for 40 minutes and that caught up with them.
Looking ahead to the rest of the season this looks like a team that could develop into a very strong group. They are still favored to win the Big 12 and a Sweet 16 or Elite Eight type run would certainly be attainable if they can work toward finding an identity. After one night against high level competition that looks like an identity that is going to require a very stingy defensive ball club with a deliberate half court type of offense.
Kentucky vs Kansas was built as a game for Kansas to learn something about themselves, and maybe answer a few questions about the season. Oddly enough there were good things and bad things, but there might be more questions now than there were 24 hours ago.