This week in Assist Map Monday, we look back at a huge showdown in the Big 12 between #6 Texas Tech and #8 Kansas. On Saturday, February 24th, the Jayhawks travelled to Lubbock and defeated the Red Raiders 74-72 to avenge their loss earlier in the year and clinch their 14th straight league title.
On the season, Kansas ranks 26th in the country in points per game at 82.1 and 9th in the country in offensive efficiency. Although the Jayhawks shot the ball incredibly well in this game—50% from the field and 44% from beyond the arc—they produced more than eight points fewer than their yearly average. This discrepancy is in large part due to the pace of this particular game—Texas Tech ranks 228th in the country in average possession length at 17.9 seconds while the average possession length of their opponents is 17.3 seconds. While Kansas does rank 69th in the country in average possession length at 16.4 seconds, they interestingly force their opponents to hold the ball on average for 17.7 seconds. This clash of styles led to an efficient, but relatively low-scoring win for Kansas.
The Jayhawks, led by star senior point guard Devonte’ Graham, rank 15th in the nation in assists per game at 17. Graham, meanwhile, averages 7.1 assists per game, good for 6th best in the country. In this game, however, Graham focused more on scoring than passing, producing 26 points on 10/18 shooting from the field and 4/7 from beyond the 3-point line. He still was tied for the team lead in assists with Svi Mykhailiuk with four. Two of Graham’s assists went to Malik Newman, one to Udoka Azubuike, and the final one went to Mitch Lightfoot. Mykhailiuk had a similar stat line to Graham, who was the recipient of two of the senior guard’s assists. The other two also went to Azubuike and Lightfoot. Freshman guard Marcus Garrett additionally added two assists to Svi Mykhailiuk and Malik Newman. After winning another regular season conference championship, even in a tough year in the Big 12, Kansas looks poised for another deep run in the NCAA tournament.