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One of Kansas coach Bill Self's best accomplishments since he arrived at KU is his ability to get his team to play the type of defense that forces the other team to miss shots.
It doesn't matter what personnel he has in a given year. You can always count on Self's Jayhawks to hold the other team to a low effective field-goal percentage.
The numbers, from KenPom.com, are below.
2003-04 — 44.3 percent (7th nationally)
2004-05 — 44.3 percent (9th)
2005-06 — 42.9 percent (2nd)
2006-07 — 43.5 percent (3rd)
2007-08 — 44.3 percent (9th)
2008-09 — 44.0 percent (8th)
2009-10 — 43.2 percent (4th)
2010-11 — 44.5 percent (14th)
2011-12 — 45.0 percent (80th)
Amazingly, Self's teams at KU have never been worse than 14th nationally in the statistic and have ranked in the top 10 in seven of his eight years.
Not only that, opponents have never shot better than a 44.5 eFG% in a season against KU under Self.
It's early, and KU has played a difficult schedule, but so far this year's KU defense isn't close to its predecessors.
The good news for KU is that it took a big step forward in the statistic against FAU in a 77-54 victory on Wednesday.
The Jayhawks held FAU to 35.4 eFG% shooting, which was its best effort in that statistic this season.
One major reason for that was blocked shots. KU blocked 20 percent of FAU's two-pointers on Wednesday, which was the fourth-highest mark in the last 15 years of KU basketball and the highest block percentage since the 2006-07 season.
Though both teams played sloppily, the biggest positive KU should come away with is that, defensively, it hounded shooters and started to perform statistically like a normal Bill Self team does.
M.O.J. (Most Outstanding Jayhawk)
Not much to choose from here after an ugly offensive performance, but the offensive stats, at least, show Conner Teahan to be the most deserving.
The senior guard posted 1.30 points per possession used while taking on a large offensive role (for him) by ending 19.3 percent of the team's possessions during his 17 minutes.
Teahan contributed a strong eFG% (64.2 percent) while also helping out in other ways. He pulled down 14.4 percent of the available defensive rebounds (a season high) and 6.5 percent of the available offensive rebounds. He also gave out assists on 13.8 percent of KU's field goals while he was out there and came away with steals on 3.2 percent of his defensive possessions (second on the team).
Teahan's 3-for-5 three-point shooting on Wednesday has continued an interesting home/road split. In two home games, Teahan in 6-for-9 from three (66.7 percent). In four games away from the Fieldhouse, he's 3-for-11 from three (27.3 percent).
The Leawood native helped KU offensively when it needed it most in the first half, hitting three three-pointers in a three-minute stretch to help turn an 11-9 deficit into a 22-16 lead.
Room for Improvement
Turnovers continue to be a problem for KU offensively.
The Jayhawks turned it over on 23.3 percent of their possessions against FAU, and that's actually the lowest turnover percentage KU has had in its last three games. The Jayhawks turned it over at a 28.6-percent clip against UCLA and in 26.6 percent of its possessions against Duke.
It's rare for a KU team to have this much trouble with turnovers for three consecutive games. In fact, I looked it up, and the last time a Self team had three games of at least a 23.3 percent turnover percentage was midway through his first season at KU in 2003-04.
Self also used some stats after the game to vent his frustration about his guard play. After the Towson game, KU's starting point guard (Tyshawn Taylor) has 16 assists and 21 turnovers, KU's starting shooting guard (Elijah Johnson) has 14 assists and 15 turnovers and KU's starting three-guard (Travis Releford) has seven assists and 10 turnovers.
KU also struggled with takeways on Wednesday, creating turnovers on just 13.7 percent of its defensive possessions — its fifth-lowest mark of the last two seasons.
Elijah Johnson played the worst game of his KU career.
The junior guard posted just 0.20 points per possession used while ending a healthy 20.2 percent of KU's possessions while he was in. KU scored at least one point on just 9 percent of the possessions he ended, while 70 percent of his ended possessions resulted in turnovers.
His basic stat line didn't look any better, as he was 0-for-4 from the floor with seven turnovers in 27 minutes. There have been only 10 instances in the last 15 seasons where a KU player has had more turnovers than Johnson had on Wednesday.
Afterwards, Self said the most frustrating part was that Johnson wasn't able to change his night once it started out poorly. Other than grabbing four rebounds, Johnson was able to contribute little despite his extended minutes.
In a high-possession game (73 possessions), KU was able to get back to its Bill Self roots defensively by making it tough on the other team to make shots.
The Jayhawks held the Owls to just 0.74 points per possession, which was KU's fifth-best defensive effort in the last two years and best since holding UMKC to 0.63 PPP on Jan. 5, 2011.
KU wasn't great offensively (1.06 PPP), mostly because of turnovers, which has become one of the biggest weaknesses of this year's team.
Though Self wasn't happy with many of his players' performances on Wednesday, he was especially upset with his guards, whom he called out at his press conference for their careless play.
It's been eight seasons since the Jayhawks had a three-game turnover stretch like this, so we'll see Saturday if KU's guards make a concerted effort to clean things up against South Florida.