Recap: KU punishes nation's No. 1 defense; plus, a KU concern heading into NCAAs
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. Here's the KU-Colorado recap from Saturday, in case you missed it.
Pretty much all year, Texas has had the No. 1 defense in the nation according to KenPom.com.
The Longhorns' defense was ridiculously good starting Big 12 play: UT allowed less than 0.9 points per possession to 10 of its first 11 Big 12 opponents. That included a matchup against KU, where the Jayhawks mustered just 0.88 PPP.
Though Texas' defense hasn't been as dominant in the last month or so, it's still been good enough to easily hold KenPom's billing.
That makes KU's offensive performance against UT in Saturday's 85-73 victory all the more impressive.
The motivated, ready-for-payback Jayhawks posted 1.25 PPP against the Longhorns on Saturday — the most PPP given up by the Longhorns all season. Only two UT opponents have mustered more than 1.16 PPP against the Longhorns (KU and Colorado) this year.
If KU can score like that on Texas, it can score like that on anyone in the nation.
Using a combination of fast-break points, ball movement and perfectly picked set plays by KU coach Bill Self, the Jayhawks had one of their best offensive performances of the season Saturday, especially considering the opposition.
M.O.J. (Most Outstanding Jayhawk)
This award could go a lot of different ways, as five Jayhawks finished with at least 1.26 points per possession used against Texas.
In the end, though, Tyshawn Taylor is the choice for M.O.J. after picking up his first start in four games.
Playing a season-high 37 minutes, Taylor put up 1.54 points per possession used while ending 19 percent of KU's possessions. When he ended a possession, KU scored at least one point 64 percent of the time.
The junior's eFG% of 80 percent was tops on the team, as was his free-throw rate (FTs*100/FGs) of 70.
Taylor was able to drive effectively and under control against UT, then also finish at the rim, which he's struggled with this year. He also benefited most of any Jayhawk when Texas forward Tristan Thompson sat with foul trouble, as many of his drives might have not finished with layups had the disruptive Thompson been in.
Taylor also didn't force things, putting up just 18.6 percent of KU's shots while he was out there — ranking sixth on the team. He contributed 21.2 percent of KU's assists during his time on the floor while turning it over just twice.
I can't remember a better game for Taylor during his time at KU.
Room for Improvement
One big concern for KU heading into the NCAA Tournament will be its inability to turn teams over defensively.
The Jayhawks showed no ability to force turnovers in the Big 12 tournament. Though KU has forced teams to turn it over on 20.3 percent of their possessions this year (which is almost exactly the NCAA average), the Jayhawks forced turnovers just 16.1 percent of the time against Oklahoma State, 14.3 percent of the time against Colorado and 10.3 percent of the time against Texas.
Texas' 10.3 percent turnover percentage was the third-lowest recorded against KU all season. Seven of the last eight KU opponents have turned it over on fewer than 18 percent of their possessions.
The Jayhawks could still stand to crank up the defensive pressure a bit. Even with great defense, it's going to be hard to keep an opponent's point total down when it's getting a shot on nearly every possession.
This is splitting hairs between Josh Selby and Mario Little, who nearly had identical lines, but Little is the pick because of fouls.
Little was 0-for-3 from the floor while racking up three personal fouls and a turnover in just seven minutes. He did add a steal and a defensive rebound and made a couple nice passes to the perimeter for shots that his teammates didn't make.
Selby also wasn't good Saturday, missing his only shot while posting two turnovers a rebound in seven minutes.
Self's rotation appears to be shaping up for the NCAAs, with the bench players most likely appearing in this order: Thomas Robinson, Elijah Johnson, Little, then Selby.
Though KU didn't force many turnovers, it was still able to limit Texas offensively (1.07 PPP) by dominating the defensive glass and limiting free throws.
KU came away with 73.2 percent of the available defensive rebounds; UT's 26.8 percent offensive rebounding percentage was its third-lowest this year.
The Longhorns' free-throw rate of 22.7 also was its second-lowest of the season.
Offensively, KU used great passing to get easy shots. The Jayhawks outscored the Longhorns, 38-18, in the paint.
KU's eFG% of 62.9 percent also was the highest the Longhorns had allowed since the 2007-08 season.
The Jayhawks end the season as fourth in adjusted offensive efficiency and 12th in adjusted defensive efficiency, according to KenPom. Only three teams rank in the top 15 in both categories: Ohio State (first offense, 10th defense), Duke (fifth offense, fifth defense) and KU.
If you're searching for national championship favorites in your bracket, look no further than those three.