Originally published December 22, 2009 at 6:51 p.m., updated December 22, 2009 at 10:57 p.m.
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KU scoring — Collins 17, Marcus Morris 14, Taylor 13, X. Henry 12, Aldrich 10, Morningstar 7, Markieff Morris 6, Reed 3, Robinson 2.
KU was 33-for-60 from the floor (55 percent), 7-for-17 from three (41.2 percent) and 11-for-17 from three (64.7 percent).
Cal was 25-for-64 from the floor (39.1 percent), 6-for-18 from three (33.3 percent) and 13-for-18 from the free-throw line (72.2 percent).
KU had 39 rebounds to Cal’s 33. The Jayhawks had 18 turnovers to the Bears’ 17.
FINAL: KU defeats Cal, 84-69
Taylor puts in a one-handed slam, and Morningstar adds a three from the corner for the exclamation point. KU pull away late for the 15-point victory.
KU 79/Cal 67 — 1:51 left in 2nd half
Taylor with another nifty move in the lane, going around a defender before putting in a left-handed layup. By my count, that’s four good games in a row for Taylor, who has nine points, seven assists and no turnovers tonight.
KU 77/Cal 65 — 3:50 left in 2nd half
Collins curls off a screen, putting in a short, left-handed, floating shot in the lane.
Christopher must have the foot-on-the-line, fallaway jumper patented, because he hits another.
KU executes offensively, though, as Taylor hits Marcus Morris on a baseline pass that nets the big man a layup.
Another horrible fadeaway by Christopher falls off, and KU runs with it, as Marcus Morris brings in a tough bounce pass from Taylor and quickly throws it off the glass for two.
Taylor follows with a steal, and he feeds Collins for a three from the left wing that he drains. Collins runs down the court, arms stretched out like a bird, with three fingers extended on each hand. Cal calls timeout, and the Bears look like they’ve about run out of gas.
Christopher gets a shot to go down, but Morningstar answers with a tough floater on the baseline. KU’s junior guard also comes up with a defensive stop on the other end, stepping in front of Randle on a drive to pick up a charge.
KU 66/Cal 61 — 7:54 left in 2nd half
I’ll have to give this to Robinson: For a freshman, he shows no fear. After getting it in the post, he immediately takes it to the rim, putting in a left-handed hook off the glass that falls through. With the score and situation, I’m sure that’s not the shot that Self wanted, but hey, it went in, and that’s what matters most I guess.
KU answers every score with one of its own. Aldrich rips down a pass and has his shot goal-tended with a foul. The next possession, Collins pulls up in transition for a three that swishes through. Cal uses a timeout down nine.
I’ve got to be honest: With 13 days to prepare for the Jayhawks, I’m surprised that Cal coach Mike Montgomery didn’t work on implementing some kind of zone defense. KU has struggled against the zone this year, but we’ve only seen straight man-to-man from the Bears tonight.
Aldrich picks up his fourth foul, and he’ll have to go to the bench with 9:27 left. Robinson checks back in.
Robinson’s free-throw woes continue. He misses the front end of a one-and-one, and after a lane violation on Cal, he misses the front end of the one-and-one again.
Randle makes two more free throws, and Cal isn’t going away.
KU 57/Cal 52 — 11:41 left in 2nd half
Collins uses a nice behind-the-back dribble to clear space, but his 16-foot fadeaway from the baseline is strong by about three feet.
Xavier Henry hits a long two, but Randle answers quickly with a three on the other end. The Cal backcourt hasn’t disappointed tonight.
KU 55/Cal 48 — 13:43 left in 2nd half
Nice lob pass inside by Morningstar, who finds Markieff for a slam.
Morningstar whistles in another dandy pass on the next possession, once again finding Markieff. The big man makes a nice catch, corraling it with one hand before dropping it in for two.
And just like that, Morningstar has taken the KU offense on his back. He rolls around a screen and, without hesitation, hoists up a long two from the top that swishes through. Timeout Cal, and thanks to three good offensive possessions in a row by Morningstar, KU has its largest lead at seven.
KU 49/Cal 46 — 15:51 left in 2nd half
After a 1-for-4 first half, Xavier Henry starts the second half with a tough layup. Self had him post up inside, and we haven’t seen that much from the small forward so far this season.
Patrick Christopher can’t miss, though. He throws in a long jumper, then a stepback two, then a ridiculous fadeaway three. His 7-0 run puts Cal up four.
Taylor answers with a drive and short shot for two, and KU needed that to bust some of the Bears’ momentum.
Christopher tries a drive, and that’s not the best decision, as Aldrich swats his shot inside. The block leads to a three-on-one break, and Xavier Henry puts in a finger-roll to tie the score at 46.
Hey, Christopher can miss, as his fallaway three bounces away. Xavier Henry answers with his own three from the corner — one that swishes through — and KU has survived Cal’s hot shooting to start the second half.
KU 40/Cal 39 — Halftime
KU halftime scoring — Collins 9, Marcus Morris 9, Aldrich 8, Taylor 7, Reed 3, Markieff Morris 2, X. Henry 2.
KU was 14-for-34 from the floor (41.2 percent), 3-for-10 from three (30 percent) and 9-for-12 from the free-throw line (75 percent).
Cal was 15-for-35 from the floor (42.9 percent), 4-for-11 from three (36.4 percent) and 5-for-9 from the free-throw line (55.6 percent).
KU has 23 rebounds to Cal’s 21. KU had eight turnovers, while Cal had nine.
Cal 34/KU 34 — 3:23 left in 1st half
Collins rattles in a floater in the lane, and once again, KU has pulled even, this time at 26.
Collins swishes an 18-footer, but it’s negated by a moving screen by Markieff Morris. That’s his second foul, and he’ll most likely sit the rest of the half.
Randle has been jacking up a shot every time he can see the basket, and to Collins’ credit, he hasn’t followed suit yet. KU’s senior guard has played within himself even though sometimes in the past, we’ve seen him try to get in one-on-one duels when he has an opponent like Randle.
Marcus Morris swishes two free throws, and KU has its first lead.
Randle runs head down into Aldrich, and the guard gets rewarded with a blocking call on Aldrich. He was 43-for-46 from the free-throw line before these two attempts, and his two tries this time hit nothing but net.
Marcus Morris battles for an offensive rebound off a Collins miss, and he draws Sanders-Frison’s second foul. Marcus makes both tries.
Morningstar has checked back in, and I noticed today that he’s playing without his traditional baggy white T-shirt underneath his jersey.
Xavier Henry with a swipe for a steal, and he finds Marcus Morris for an uncontested, two-handed jam.
Robinson clears out a defensive rebound, and after sticking out his elbows to clear room, he’s whistled for an offensive foul even though he didn’t make contact with a defender. That’s a call you don’t see often, and the fans (understandably) are upset.
Marcus Morris with a double-pump layup under the glass, but Christopher follows with a wild, long two-pointer that goes in. The Bears aren’t missing many tough shots early.
Cal 26/KU 24 — 7:58 left in 1st half
After a steal, Taylor wiggles his body around a defender — much like a play he had last game against Michigan — to put in a transition layup.
The offense gets sloppy for both teams. Brady Morningstar tries to save a ball under his own basket, but Xavier Henry can’t corral it. Instead, Jamal Boykin grabs the loose ball and puts in a layup.
Morningstar gets a steal, but Thomas Robinson turns it over when attempting a pass underneath.
Theo Robertson follows with a three, and KU coach Bill Self calls timeout.
KU’s offense recovers a bit after that. Aldrich gets a layup, and Taylor confidently swishes an open three. The sophomore guard has seven points so far on 3-for-4 shooting.
Cal 17/KU 15 — 11:25 left in 1st half
After falling behind 14-8, Collins answers with a drive and layup, and on the next possession, Tyshawn Taylor finds Tyrel Reed on the perimeter for an open three that swishes through.
The pace has picked up in this one, and that favors KU. Cal might want to consider trying to play at less of a frantic pace.
Tonight, Aldrich looks like the big man offensively that we saw last season. He puts down another turnaround over a defender, and he leads KU with six points.
Randle answers with a three, though, and these Cal guards aren’t afraid to take difficult shots.
Cal 8/KU 6 — 15:17 left in 1st half
Markieff Morris misses a short shot on an up-and-under move, but he makes up for it with a big block on a Cal shot on the other end. Following a Cal foul, we have a media timeout.
Cal 8/KU 6 — 16:01 left in 1st half
KU finally gets a transition opportunity, and Xavier Henry takes it coast-to-coast for a layup over a defender.
Markhuri Sanders-Frison is fouled on a shot on the other end and makes one of two free throws.
Cal 7/KU 4 — 17:00 left in 1st half
Aldrich misses a reverse layup. KU still without a field goal.
Christopher is fouled on a shot by Tyshawn Taylor, but misses both free throws.
Markieff Morris gets KU's first field goal, driving on the right side of the rim before putting in a shot high off the glass and in with a whistle. He misses the free throw.
Cal 7/KU 2 — 18:10 left in 1st half
Both teams exchange misses before Theo Robertson puts in a short runner in the lane.
Cal 5/KU 2 — 19:05 left in 1st half
Aldrich makes both free throws, but Jerome Randle answers with a three.
Aldrich draws 7-foot-3 Max Zhang's second foul inside.
Cal 2/KU 0 — 19:23 left in 1st half
Cal wins the tip. Patrick Christopher starts with an 18-footer that swishes through from the baseline.
Cole Aldrich is fouled on a two-point try in the lane on KU's ensuing possession.
Keep your eyes here early in the game, as we'll keep the updates fast and furious (more Twitter-like) for those of you still waiting for ESPN to switch the game from Michigan State-Texas to KU-Cal.
Here are some notes about California, which comes in with a 6-3 record with a sparkly No. 10 Pomeroy ranking.
• Cal’s three losses have come to teams with a combined 32-2 record (Syracuse, Ohio State, New Mexico). Syracuse and New Mexico are still unbeaten.
• Cal has scored at least 70 points in each game this season.
• The Golden Bears have not played in 13 days. The last game for Cal was Dec. 9, a 79-54 victory over Pacific.
• Five-foot-10 point guard Jerome Randle averages 19.6 points and 5.1 assists per game. He has made 39 percent of his threes and 93.5 percent of his free throws (43-for-46).
• Six-foot-6 forward Theo Robertson, who is just back from a foot injury, averages 14.7 points per game. Cal has not lost in the games he has played this season.
• Cal shoots 38.1 percent from three as a team. The Bears also are an impressive 75.1 percent from the free-throw line as a team this season.
• Cal center Max Zhang is listed at 7-foot-3. That’s tall.
• Cal out-rebounds its opponents by an average of 7.1 rebounds per game.
• The Bears average only 12.4 turnovers per game. They aren’t very good at taking the ball away on defense, though, as their opponents average just 12.8 turnovers per game.
• According to KenPom.com, this is KU’s toughest home game on the schedule this season.
Welcome back to the Newell Post Live, coming to you from Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence where the No. 1-ranked Kansas Jayhawks are getting set to take on the Cal Bears.
I've started to notice a trend this year for KU with the addition of sharpshooter Xavier Henry: The Jayhawks are relying more on the three-point shot than they did last season.
There are two advanced stats that measure this well: percentage of shots attempted that are three-pointers (calculated by dividing three-point field goals attempted by the total number of field goals attempted) and percentage of scoring from a team that comes from three-pointers.
Last season, 30.7 percent of KU's shot attempts were three-point tries. This year, it's up to 32.7 percent.
Also last season, 25.0 percent of KU's scoring came from three-pointers. This year, it's up to 29.1 percent.
There are pros and cons to shooting a higher number of three-pointers. The biggest advantage, obviously, is that you have the potential to score more points per possession with a three-point shot than a two-point shot.
The disadvantage, at least from what I've observed in college basketball, is that teams that rely on three-pointers seem to be less consistent and more susceptible to losses because of a bad shooting night. KU hasn't had many bad shooting nights from three this season, but a 6-for-19 effort (31.6 percent) against Michigan on Saturday shows that poor shooting sometimes allows less-talented teams to stay in games.
When a team's goal is to win six straight games in March/April, I would guess that you would want your team to be more consistent and less susceptible to a possible poor shooting night. After all, one loss in the NCAA Tournament means your season is over.
I decided to test the numbers to see if my guess was accurate. Here are the three-point statistics for the last six national championship teams, followed by the averages of those title teams and then KU's statistics the last two years.
Percentage of shots attempted that are three-pointers (3PA/FGA)
Percentage of total points that are three-pointers
Again, I'm not suggesting three-pointers are bad. KU won't have to worry if Xavier Henry continues to shoot 49.1 percent from three while Sherron Collins makes 41.7 percent of his long-range tries.
But it is something to keep an eye on.
Partly, I assume, because of Cole Aldrich's early offensive struggles, KU is relying much more on the outside shot.
As you can see, it's not a route that many NCAA championship teams have taken in the past six years to win their respective titles.
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