If the whole is equal to the sum of its parts, then why is so little attention paid to the first half of basketball games?
The reason seems obvious. No team ever has won a game without playing the second half, so why bother?
A sports writer assigned to cover a basketball game, for instance, really doesn't have to show up until after intermission in order to do a competent job of reporting because, heck, nobody ever writes about the first 20 minutes.
Not that I'm saying I didn't show up until halftime of Saturday night's Kansas-Rhode Island men's game in Allen Fieldhouse. I was there for the tipoff because, well, I always am.
This time, however, I went with the mind-set that I would concentrate on the first half because if you study the big picture, you'll realize the Jayhawks have been dynamite on defense in the first 20 minutes.
Saturday night was typical. Rhode Island shot a dreadful 20.5 percent in the first half, missing 31 of 39 shots, and it wasn't because the Rams are poor shooters. The Jayhawks covered them like fleece.
That, for the most part, has been the Jayhawks' pattern all season.
If Jimmy Baron, one of the nation's deadliest three-point shooters, hadn't drilled a trey at the buzzer, Rhode Island would have become the sixth team to score in the teens against Kansas prior to the break.
As it was, the Rams settled for 22 points, which, as it turns out, is about average for opponents' first-half point totals against the Jayhawks. In its 14 games, KU is surrendering an average of just 24.1 points in the opening half. That's right. A mere two dozen points.
The most points KU has given in a first half is 39. That was to Oral Roberts University in what was - at least for the 2006 portion of the Jayhawks' schedule - the anomaly game. To this day, no one really knows how the Golden Eagles were able to come into Allen Fieldhouse and seemingly knock down every shot.
ORU is also the only team that has been able to fashion a halftime lead against Kansas. The Eagles led, 39-34, on the way to their astonishing 78-71 triumph in the second game of the regular season.
In the Jayhawks' other defeat - a 64-57 late swoon at DePaul - Kansas led 28-17 at halftime, then went in the defensive tank by giving 47 points to the Blue Demons in the second half.
Curiously, KU did basically the same thing against Rhode Island, holding the Rams to 22 points at the halfway mark, then springing a defensive leak and giving, yes, 47 points to the Rams.
Why the Jayhawks have been lights out defensively in first halves and either so-so or stinko the rest of the way probably has something to do with human physiology. Bodies are fresher at the outset than they are down the stretch.
Still, every game is different, and you had the feeling Saturday night the Jayhawks could have played better defensively in the second half if they really had needed to.
Subconsciously, though, these KU players have been around long enough to know Rhode Island was incapable of putting a scare into them.
And that's what the Jayhawks need right now. They need to experience the fear of possible defeat. They need to go into a game afraid they'll lose, and they shouldn't have to wait too long with a trip to South Carolina coming up a week from today.