Recap: In dominant effort, don't overlook KU's defensive rebounding
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Here's how you know that Kansas is playing some pretty good basketball.
After sitting down at the press conference table Monday night, Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford couldn't stop gushing about KU's offense.
And OSU forward Marshall Moses couldn't stop talking about KU's defense.
Both had good points following KU's 92-65 victory over OSU.
The Jayhawks' offense, once again, was its normal efficient self.
KU scored 1.24 points per possession, topping the 1.23 PPP mark for the eighth time in its last nine games.
The crazy thing? The 1.24 PPP was only the Jayhawks' fourth-best in their last seven games. So not only did Ford not see KU's best offense on Monday, he didn't even see an above-average performance for the Jayhawks in their last seven games.
Meanwhile, KU's defense posted its second straight impressive performance, almost exactly matching its defensive numbers from Saturday.
Against Colorado, KU allowed 0.875 PPP; Against OSU on Monday, KU allowed 0.878 PPP.
Though the CU effort was better (the Buffaloes are a better offensive team than the Cowboys), Monday's performance was still a sign of progress for KU's much-maligned defense. The Jayhawks' last two defensive games, points-per-possession-wise, have been their best over the past 13 contests.
Also, OSU's floor percentage (the percentage of possessions it scored at least one point) was just 38.7 percent, the team's lowest mark since the 2008-09 season (when it lost to KU, 78-67).
"If you make a mistake offensively, they make you pay for it," Moses said.
Even without Tyshawn Taylor and a fully healthy Josh Selby, Travis Releford or Thomas Robinson, the Jayhawks put together a dominant performance on both ends.
M.O.J. (Most Outstanding Jayhawk)
Elijah Johnson had a great game, but Marcus Morris still is the M.O.J.
The junior forward posted 1.41 points per possession used while ending 24.4 percent of KU's possessions, which put together are All-American-type numbers.
In the possessions Marcus ended, the Jayhawks scored at least one point 64.9 percent of the time. Marcus made 9 of 13 shots and 3 of 5 three-pointers while also grabbing 19.5 percent of the available defensive rebounds.
With his combination of his efficiency plus high usage, Marcus has proven over the course of the season to be the best offensive player on a great offensive team.
Room for Improvement
KU's biggest fault on Monday night was fouling too much.
Oklahoma State's free-throw rate (FTs attempted times 100/FGs attempted) on Monday was 63.3, which was well above KU's already-high opponent free-throw rate average (39.8). It was also KU's third-highest free-throw rate allowed this year.
The Jayhawks actually were a bit fortunate on free throws, as OSU made just 20 of 31 (64.5 percent) after coming in with a 72.4-percent team free-throw percentage. OSU guard Keiton Page actually missed two in a row as well, even though he came in leading the conference with a 91.1-percent free-throw percentage.
Former North Carolina coach Dean Smith used to preach that any trip to the free-throw line was a success for his team offensively. Not only was it likely his team would score at least one point per possession, it also was putting the opposing team further into foul trouble.
Thinking about it that way makes sense and also should be a reason for concern for KU with its frequent fouling. Part of the reason why Ohio State is so difficult to beat is because the Buckeyes don't give opposing teams many opportunities for easy points (20.6 defensive free-throw rate, No. 1 nationally).
KU could definitely tighten up in that area.
It was an efficient night for KU offensively, as every player who made a shot posted at least one point per possession used.
Every player, that is, except guard Josh Selby, who gets the Tough-Luck Line.
Selby posted 0.90 points per possession used while ending a high number of KU's possessions (24.3 percent). When he ended a KU possession, the Jayhawks scored at least one point just 36.5 percent of the time.
Though the freshman is getting closer to 100 percent, his offensive efficiency still has yet to catch up to the team's high offensive efficiency.
Selby, who didn't turn it over in 11 first-half minutes, had three giveaways in his nine second-half minutes, and those turnovers dragged down the rest of his numbers.
Selby had the most turnovers on the Jayhawks in his 20 combined minutes, and until he starts securing the ball better, he'll remain a riskier offensive option than some other players in KU's rotation.
Though KU's offense was once again spectacular, KU fans should probably be most encouraged by the Jayhawks' defensive progress in the last two games.
One area where KU was particularly dominant on Monday night was the defensive glass. OSU came away with just 9.1 percent of the available offensive rebounds — its second-lowest total in a game in the last 15 years and lowest since the 2003-04 season.
KU's 90.9 percent defensive rebounding percentage, meanwhile, was its third-highest total in the last 15 years and highest since the 2006-07 season.
Though the Jayhawks still foul a bit too much defensively, they have made significant improvements over the last week, playing their best defense of the month in the last two games.
We'll see if that kind of defensive effort shows up on the road as well when KU plays at Oklahoma on Saturday.