Recap: Jayhawks' offense better than the final score indicates
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.
Before we start, it's time for a little pop quiz.
If you had to describe the pace of KU's 85-65 victory over Baylor, would you say it was:
A) Pretty fast. Both teams' athletes got up and down the floor.
B) About average for KU.
C) Really slow. Like, slower than Nebraska slow.
It might have been hard to notice, but the correct answer is actually C. Though both teams had enough athletes to bring 35 NBA scouts to Waco, Texas, KU played at its slowest pace (63 possessions) of the entire year.
Which makes the Jayhawks' offensive performance even more impressive.
Coming off three of their worst offensive performances of the season against Michigan, Iowa State and Nebraska, the Jayhawks showed their offensive ceiling on Monday against Baylor.
KU posted 1.35 points per possession, which was the third-highest mark of the year and the most PPP given up by Baylor since the 2006-07 season.
The Jayhawks also had their best shooting night of the year, notching an eFG% of 68.8 percent.
Not only that, KU gobbled up most of the few misses it had. The Jayhawks grabbed 47.6 percent of the available offensive rebounds against a great rebounding team.
The Bears' defensive rebounding percentage of 52.4 percent was seven percent worse than their previous worst defensive rebounding game this year. It was also more than 20 percent below Baylor's season average for defensive rebounding (73.5 percent).
The Jayhawks' offensive effort was so good that, in one game, KU jumped from 18th to 11th nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency.
Though KU appears to have a roster built to run, it had its best offensive effort of the season (considering the opponent/location) in the slowest of its games.
That's not something I would have expected, especially against Baylor.
M.O.J. (Most Outstanding Jayhawk)
Let me first start by offering apologies to Marcus Morris.
The 6-foot-9 forward posted 1.36 points per possession used while ending 30.7 percent of KU's possessions (average is 20 percent) when he was on the floor, which are All-American numbers. He also pulled down 24.5 percent of the available offensive rebounds and scored at least one point on 70.4 percent of the possessions he ended.
If he puts up those numbers any other game, he wins M.O.J. in a landslide.
Against Baylor, those numbers weren't even best on the team.
That's because, somehow, his brother Markieff was even more efficient.
I did a double-take when I first saw the 6-foot-10 forward's numbers: He posted 2.03 points per possession used (2.03!) while ending 15.3 percent of the possessions he was in.
Markieff's floor percentage was 87.9 percent, meaning 87.9 percent of the time he ended a KU possession, the Jayhawks scored at least one point. He also grabbed 33.9 percent of the available defensive rebounds and 11.5 percent of the available offensive rebounds while turning it over just once in 33 minutes.
It was probably the most efficient effort for a Jayhawk all season, and I would think would rank as one of the top two KU individual performances this year along with Marcus' 33-point, 13-rebound showing against Iowa State.
Room for Improvement
KU's defense actually wasn't all that great against Baylor, as the Jayhawks allowed 1.03 points per possession — their second-worst defensive game this season.
The big reason? The Jayhawks had troubles playing defense without fouling.
Baylor's free-throw rate (free throws divided by field goal attempts) was 63.4 — the highest number by a KU opponent since the Jayhawks' 2008 game against Syracuse at Sprint Center.
The worst culprits were Elijah Johnson (four fouls in nine minutes) and Brady Morningstar (four fouls in 18 minutes).
The Bears' 26 free-throw attempts helped them keep their efficiency high on a day when they were even more careless with the basketball than they normally are.
This wasn't Thomas Robinson's night, partially because Baylor was not a good matchup for him.
With the Bears' zone, one of the openings that KU tries to exploit is the elbows — a spot where Robinson wasn't comfortable receiving the ball. When Robinson did get the ball there, he seemed hesitant, and that turned him into a liability offensively.
The sophomore posted just 0.31 points per possession used while ending 39.6 percent of the team's possessions (about twice an average player) during his eight minutes.
Robinson's turnover woes (four in eight minutes Monday) hurt KU offensively, and it's the reason that the forward has gotten the quick hook recently when he's started off the game poorly.
After three straight bad offensive games, the Jayhawks responded with their best offensive game of the year against a tough opponent.
KU carved up Baylor's 2-3 zone, using quick, crisp passes to get good shots inside. It was the kind of performance that will make opposing coaches think twice before deciding to go primarily zone against the Jayhawks.
Though KU fouled too much defensively, it still was able to force lots of turnovers. The Bears had their third-highest turnover percentage of the year (28.6 percent); coming in, BU had turned it over on 22.7 percent of its possessions.
The Jayhawks will now have the rest of the week to prepare for Saturday's home game against Texas — a game that could go a long way toward deciding the eventual Big 12 champion.