Recap: Brady Morningstar's adjustment helps KU shut down Boston
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Kansas made some important three-pointers in the second half of its 72-53 victory over Boston.
Tyshawn Taylor made one, while Markieff Morris followed with an NBA three to put KU up 15 points with 7:35 left.
At one point, KU made nine straight shots in the second half.
Still, it was KU's defense that was the biggest key in the Jayhawks pulling away from the pesky Terriers.
KU held BU to just 0.84 points per possession — the best defensive mark for the Jayhawks since before Big 12 play began (Michigan, 0.81 PPP).
The defensive numbers look even better if you look at the second half alone.
KU — 1.06 PPP
BU — 0.94 PPP
KU — 1.22 PPP
BU — 0.75 PPP
A big reason for KU's defensive improvement was KU guard Brady Morningstar locking down on BU's John Holland, who scored 10 of his team's first 12 points.
After starting the game 7-for-9, Holland missed his final 10 shots.
Morningstar told me afterwards that it took a little while to figure out how Holland played. The KU guard was expecting more driving to the hoop from him, yet Boston continually had him run around screens to get open set shots, which he was making.
Morningstar changed his style of defense, getting more underneath Holland to force him to drive. Even if he did penetrate, Morningstar knew he'd have help defenders behind him. The key was to not let Holland get clean looks on jumpshots.
The adjustment — and execution of that adjustment — helped KU shut down BU's best player, which in turn severely limited what the Terriers could do offensively in the second half.
M.O.J. (Most Outstanding Jayhawk)
For the second straight game, Tyshawn Taylor picks up M.O.J. honors after giving the Jayhawks a boost offensively.
The junior guard posted 1.51 points per possession used while ending 16.2 percent of the Jayhawks' possessions.
Quietly, Taylor has developed into one of KU's most reliable three-point shooters. In his last seven games, he's gone 8-for-14 (57.1 percent) from three-point range.
Taylor also contributed 37.8 percent of his team's assists while he was in the game, his second highest mark in Big 12/postseason play.
After facing criticism for his carelessness most of this season, Taylor has put together two of his best games at exactly the right time.
Room for Improvement
KU's gameplan in most games should be to attack the paint with its talented forwards, and the Jayhawks didn't do a good job of that, especially in the first half.
Because of that, KU's free-throw rate (FTs*100/FGs) was extremely low.
The Jayhawks posted a free-throw rate of only 14.0, its second lowest mark of the entire season.
KU finished with just eight free-throw attempts, which also was the second-lowest this year, next to the Miami (Ohio) game on Jan. 2 (seven free throws attempted).
BU's packed-in zone looked a lot like Oklahoma State's in the first half, and in some of those scenarios, KU almost will have to hit some open threes to loosen up the defense.
Still, against an overmatched team like BU, the Jayhawks should expect to force it inside enough to get more than eight free-throw attempts.
No KU player had an awful game, so we'll go with Elijah Johnson here simply based on his inability to avoid fouls.
In nine minutes, Johnson racked up a team-high four fouls. That ended up being more than 30 percent of KU's total fouls on Friday (the Jayhawks only had 13).
Johnson did contribute a team-high two steals to go with one assist during his minutes, but his impact was limited because he couldn't stop fouling.
After playing a few solid defensive games in a row late in the Big 12 season, Johnson has struggled as of late. In his last four games, he has 13 fouls in just 41 minutes. That means he's picking up a foul every 3.2 minutes of gametime.
If Johnson can't get that statistic corrected, he's going to have a hard time getting more than a handful of minutes in any NCAA Tournament game.
Though I expected KU to dominate the offensive glass against BU, the Jayhawks ended up taking control by dominating the defensive glass.
KU's 36.7 percent offensive rebounding percentage was almost right at its season average, but its 82.9 percent defensive rebounding percentage was spectacular.
BU's 17.1 percent offensive rebounding percentage was its lowest mark all season. Its previous worst in a game this year was 21.4 percent.
KU's great rebounding effort was just part of a strong overall defensive performance that carried the Jayhawks when their offense stalled in the first 30 minutes.
The Jayhawks now must prepare for the toughest Round of 32 game for any No. 1 seed (or No. 2 seed or No. 3 seed or No. 4 seed), as ninth-seeded Illinois, with its win Friday, has moved all the way up to 16th in the latest KenPom rankings.