Recap: Is this the best five-game stretch of any KU offense in the last 15 years?
Note: Here is a listing of definitions for some terms used in this blog. Also, feel free to ask questions in the comments section below if something doesn't make sense.
Pop quiz time again. We'll see how good your eyes are.
If you had to describe the pace of KU's 103-86 victory over Missouri, would you say it was:
A. Very fast. Well above KU's average pace this year.
B. Right at KU's average pace this year.
C. Very slow. Well below KU's average pace this year. http://www2.kusports.com/photos/galle...
Congrats to all those of you who picked B.
Though both teams came in with run-and-gun reputations, Monday night's game actually on featured 71 possessions — just above KU's 70.8 possessions per game it was averaging this season. KU actually had more possessions in both the Texas game earlier this year (where it scored 63 points).
The average number of possessions in Monday's game, of course, makes KU's 103-point effort even more impressive.
The Jayhawks scored a lot of points without needing a lot of possessions. In other words, KU was efficient with the possessions it had.
Just how efficient? It turns out historically so.
I almost fell over when I saw the final numbers: KU scored 1.45 points per possession on Monday night — its highest total of the entire year against any team.
I went back to Missouri's statistics, looking at each of its defensive efforts from the last 15 years. Turns out, this was the most points scored per possession against the Tigers in any game of the last 15 years. Only one opponent during that time had even topped 1.40 PPP, and that was KU back in the 2001-02 season (1.42).
The highest any team other than KU has scored against Missouri in the past 15 years was Texas A&M in 2004-05 (1.38 PPP).
Here's the breakdown of KU's two halves on Monday:
KU — 1.24 PPP
KU — 1.67 PPP
How good is 1.67 PPP? No Div. I team has scored 1.67 PPP in a game this year — not even against an opponent from a lower division.
Yet, KU posted 1.67 PPP for a half against a top-25 opponent with the 42nd-ranked defense according to KenPom.
Friend-of-the-blog Bill Connelly took it a step further at his MU-based site, Rock M Nation, breaking down that KU actually scored 39 points in its first 19 possessions of the second half for 2.05 points per possession that stretch.
Just when I think KU's offense can't get better, it does.
M.O.J. (Most Outstanding Jayhawk)
Mario Little tops the Morris twins to take his first M.O.J. honor of the season.
Little not only was terrific offensively — posting 1.58 points per possession used — he also took on a major scoring load, putting up 36.8 percent of KU's shots during his time out there while ending 21.8 percent of KU's possessions.
The Jayhawks scored at least one point on 76.4 percent of the possessions that Little ended.
Somewhat unexpectedly, Little also was a big help on the boards as well. He pulled down 25.8 percent of the available offensive rebounds and 16.6 percent of the available defensive rebounds.
Little also went 3-for-3 from three-point range and now has made five three-pointers in a row.
Room for Improvement
Statistically, KU had its worst defensive performance of the season. And still beat Missouri by 17.
The Jayhawks allowed 1.21 points per possession to the Tigers, which topped their previous defensive worst of 1.20 PPP allowed this year at Colorado.
Those two teams seem to share a similar offensive strength: Quick guards that have the ability to penetrate and get to the rim or get fouled.
This appears to be the kind of team that KU fans might want to avoid in the bracket come March, as KU's guards haven't done a good job of cutting off dribble penetration in numerous games this year.
As crazy as it sounds, this actually is illustrated in the free-throw percentages from this year.
Connelly made this great point in his preview on Monday, and rather than steal it and act like I'm smart, I'll quote him:
"Kansas' biggest defensive weakness seems to be that, like other recent Mizzou opponents, they foul guards a lot. They rank 230th in Def. FT%, which means they tend to send good shooters to the line. ...
"On offense, Kansas has the exact opposite problem — they don't send guards to the line very much. They rank 230th in Off. FT% because their most frequent foul shooters — Marcus Morris (66.4%), Markieff Morris (66.7%), Thomas Robinson (52.8%) — aren't very good."
What I take from that is this: If you're hoping for a huge improvement from KU's free-throw shooting this year, it's probably not going to happen because of the way the team is set up. KU's big men are the scorers, so they get fouled a lot.
The twins/Robinson will need to shoot above-average from the line to make KU above-average from the line — an expectation that might not be reasonable.
Meanwhile, KU's defensive free-throw shooting could improve quite a bit with improved defense (and fewer fouls) from KU's guards. Thirteen of MU's 22 free throws last night were taken by guards, and not surprisingly, the Tigers shot a great percentage from the line (81.8 percent).
Tyshawn Taylor goes here after a tough shooting night, but honestly, his offensive numbers weren't as bad as I expected.
Taylor still posted 1.20 points per possession while ending 19.3 percent of KU's possessions — a number I would have assumed to be much higher with 14 shot attempts.
His eFG% was only 32.1 percent — lowest on the team — but Taylor did provide plenty of positives for KU against Missouri.
For one, he only turned it over two times in 35 minutes against the Tigers' pressure defense. Taylor, often criticized for his lack of focus, was a great primary ball-handler for KU on Monday.
Taylor also had to play extended minutes because of a struggling Elijah Johnson, as Taylor's 35 minutes were his second-most all season.
Though Taylor's shot filter could have used a bit of tweaking against MU, he still provided enough in the other areas to make this a bit of a tough-luck, "Tough-Luck Line."
KU's offense, right now, might be better than any Jayhawks offense we've seen in the last 15 years during conference play.
I went back and looked, and only two KU teams have put together five straight league games in that time frame with at least 1.20 points per possession: the 2001-02 Jayhawks and this year's Jayhawks.
Even that doesn't tell the whole story. That 2001-02 team — with Drew Gooden, Nick Collison and company — had three games during the five-game stretch when it posted less than 1.23 PPP (1.42, 1.22, 1.29, 1.21, 1.21).
This year's team has scored at least 1.23 PPP in each of its last five games (1.26, 1.23, 1.26, 1.25, 1.45).
In other words, enjoy this offense. It's going through one of the best five-game stretches in Big 12 history.