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Recap: I thought that game looked familiar, Part II

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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.

One of the first comments Kansas coach Bill Self made after KU's 64-51 victory over Texas A&M on Wednesday was that the game had no rhythm.

So many times this year, the Jayhawks have won pretty. The ball moves, the jumpshots go in, players feel good about themselves and KU runs away with a victory.

Wednesday wasn't like that. The Morris twins missed shots they normally make. Markieff even joked to his brother Marcus that he was going to check if there was something on the top of the rim.

Kansas forward Markieff Morris turns for a shot over Texas A&M forward Kourtney Roberson during the first half on Wednesday, March 2, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Markieff Morris turns for a shot over Texas A&M forward Kourtney Roberson during the first half on Wednesday, March 2, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

That kind of game — slow-it-down, muddied-up — is the kind of environment that Self wanted to see his team succeed in.

I found it interesting that KU's numbers last night — low possessions, below-average offensive output — were very close to another game. Take a look.

While KU's 59 possessions were the lowest for this season, the 62 possessions in Game X tied for the second-lowest that season.

Any guesses?

Here's another clue.

With almost identical possession and offensive numbers, KU won the Texas A&M game by 13, yet lost Game X by two.

Kansas guard Elijah Johnson gets up for an alley-oop jam against Texas A&M during the second half on Wednesday, March 2, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Elijah Johnson gets up for an alley-oop jam against Texas A&M during the second half on Wednesday, March 2, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Turns out last night's game was very similar to an NCAA Tournament game at the end of last season.

Game X is KU vs. Northern Iowa last year.

The good news for KU fans is that the Jayhawks found a formula to win on a night when the game was sluggish and the possessions were low.

Brady Morningstar (12) celebrates a three-point basket during the Kansas Jayhawks 64-51 win against Texas A&M Wednesday, March 2, 2011. It was the last home game for KU.

Brady Morningstar (12) celebrates a three-point basket during the Kansas Jayhawks 64-51 win against Texas A&M Wednesday, March 2, 2011. It was the last home game for KU. by Mike Yoder

So how did KU do it?

Take a look.

For one, the Jayhawks locked down defensively, holding Texas A&M to nearly five percent below its eFG% season average (49.5 percent).

KU also was able to "out-possession" A&M by dominating in turnovers.

Tyrel Reed, Brady Morningstar and Elijah Johnson pressured the Texas A&M guards all over the floor, and that sticky defense led to the Aggies' highest turnover percentage in their last four seasons.

Kansas guard Tyrel Reed dives for a loose ball with Texas A&M guard Dash Harris during the first half on Wednesday, March 2, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Tyrel Reed dives for a loose ball with Texas A&M guard Dash Harris during the first half on Wednesday, March 2, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

It also helped that KU was well below its season average for turnover percentage (15.3 percent, compared to 18.9 percent), unlike the UNI game, when KU was well over its season average (24.2 percent, compared to 18.7 percent).

Texas A&M might have just done KU a favor, giving the Jayhawks a taste of the style of game that will surely come sometime in the tournament.

KU passed Wednesday's mid-term. Now, the Jayhawks will just have to keep their notes in case that same type of game shows up on the final exam.

M.O.J. (Most Outstanding Jayhawk)

Fittingly, Brady Morningstar takes the M.O.J. honor on his Senior night.

The Lawrence native was 3-for-3 from the floor and 2-for-2 from three, posting nine points during his perfect shooting game from the floor.

He also dished out 20.8 percent of KU's assists while he was on the floor while contributing to the Jayhawks' stifling on-ball defense.

Morningstar, who had four second-half steals, came away with steals on 7.3 percent of his defensive possessions in the game. That number was second on the team behind Tyrel Reed (8.2 percent).

Though Morningstar's usage was extremely low (3.6 percent), he still managed to get plenty of offensive production out of the shots he did take while limiting his turnovers and playing great defense.

Room for Improvement

KU struggled to rebound against Texas A&M on both ends of the court.

Kansas forward Markieff Morris pulls away a rebound from the Texas A&M defense during the second half on Wednesday, March 2, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Markieff Morris pulls away a rebound from the Texas A&M defense during the second half on Wednesday, March 2, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

The Jayhawks grabbed just 63.3 percent of the available defensive rebounds (their fifth-lowest mark of the year) and just 27.3 percent of the available offensive rebounds (their sixth-worst mark of the season.

To be fair, Texas A&M came in as the ninth-best offensive rebounding team in the nation according to KenPom, tracking down 38.4 percent of the available offensive rebounds this season. So the Aggies' 36.7 percent offensive rebounding percentage was actually still below their season average.

Still, KU should expect to put up a better fight on the boards, even if it is against a good rebounding team. Markieff Morris — the Big 12's leading rebounder — had just three rebounds in 30 minutes, while no Jayhawk had more than five rebounds.

Luckily for KU, this shouldn't be a lingering problem, as the Jayhawks face one of the worst rebounding teams in the conference (Missouri) on Saturday — a team KU outrebounded 38-21 in the teams' first matchup.

Tough-Luck Line

Mario Little takes this distinction following a poor shooting night.

Kansas forward Mario Little plays to the crowd during the player introductions prior to tipoff against Texas A&M on Wednesday, March 2, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Mario Little plays to the crowd during the player introductions prior to tipoff against Texas A&M on Wednesday, March 2, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

In his 15 minutes, Little was 0-for-5 from the floor and 0-for-3 from three. He posted just 0.16 points per possession used while ending 18 percent of KU's possessions while he was out there.

The Chicago native's lone statistical highlight was his defensive rebounding, as he came away with 26.6 percent of the available defensive rebounds.

That still wasn't enough to make up for his errant shooting on Wednesday.

Bottom Line

Give credit to KU for avoiding fouls, something the Jayhawks haven't always done well this season.

Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor knocks the ball away from Texas A&M forward Naji Hibbert during the first half on Wednesday, March 2, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor knocks the ball away from Texas A&M forward Naji Hibbert during the first half on Wednesday, March 2, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Though KU was up to seven team fouls at just under the 12-minute mark of the second half, the Jayhawks had just one foul the rest of the way.

That defensive effort also came against a Texas A&M team that is good at getting to the free-throw line. The Aggies' free-throw rate (FTs attempted*100/FGs attempted) of 46.0 ranks 28th nationally.

A&M's free-throw rate on Wednesday night was 20.8 — its lowest of the season. The Aggies' 10 free throws attempted also was their lowest total in the last two years.

KU's 0.86 points per possession allowed on defense was its best performance of the Big 12 season. In three of the Jayhawks' last four games, they've given up fewer than 0.88 PPP.

Though the Jayhawks like to play pretty, they showed they could win ugly on Wednesday by tightening up the defense and forcing turnovers.

Comments

fundamental 10 years, 9 months ago

Jesse,

Can you explain how Mario ended up with .16 PPP when he didn't score a single point? Does he get credit for assists in that number?

Jesse Newell 10 years, 9 months ago

You're right on. The offensive rating gives a player partial credit for assists. Mario had one.

Marcia Parsons 10 years, 9 months ago

Didn't Brady also have at least one free throw?

Steve Kubler 10 years, 9 months ago

2 for 2 from 3 - 6 pts 1 for 1 for 2, and 1 FT =9

It was 3 for 3 from the floor, not from three.

KGphoto 10 years, 9 months ago

Just kiddin' Jesse.

Was Game X @Mizzou two years ago?

KGphoto 10 years, 9 months ago

Oh wait. It WAS UNI?

God those damn stats get me flustered.

Scott Smetana 10 years, 9 months ago

Great comparison. I think you prove how important each possession and therefore turnovers and rebounding are in grind games like these. I like how you're not afraid to bring up the UNI game and learn from it, as painful as it might be. It also seemed we had some slower grind games earlier this season??

It also seemed we didn't and couldn't make many 3's against UNI. I also think their guards had better handles on the ball. Of course it didn't hurt them that they all played the games of their lives. I was bummed to see them blow it in the next game.

Alohahawk 10 years, 9 months ago

Morningstar played a superlative game. as did Reed. But, you didn't give the PPP for either. I would think that Morningstar's would be close to 2.0, or perhaps better? Also, what were the eFG%'s and PPP's for each of the starters, and for TT?

Jesse Newell 10 years, 9 months ago

Sorry for the late response, as I've been out and about. I didn't include Morningstar's PPP because, frankly, it was too high. When a player like Morningstar has a night like he had (perfect shooting, high assists, no turnovers), the formula (which approximates PPP) somewhat "breaks," for lack of a better word. Morningstar's official points per possession used, based on the formula, was 3.72. You and I and everyone else know that he didn't provide 3.72 PPP used (that's nearly impossible), so I left out the number to avoid confusion. It's safer just to put out the raw numbers and say he had a great performance (which he did).

In case you were wondering, Reed posted 1.35 points per possession used.

Here are the starters: Markieff Morris 1.19 PPP used, 20.3% possessions ended, 54.1 eFG% Marcus Morris 1.14 PPP used, 25.1% possessions ended, 50 eFG% Reed 1.35 PPP used, 12.3% possessions ended, 91.6 eFG% Morningstar 3.72 PPP used (in actuality, probably more like 2.7 PPP used), 3.6% possessions ended, 133.3 eFG% Little 0.16 PPP used, 18.0% possessions ended, 0 eFG%

Alohahawk 10 years, 9 months ago

Mahalo, Jesse. As others have stated before, your stats add a lot to the total enjoyment and understanding of the game.

And yes, I can see how Morningstar's numbers could have created some confusion. Always wondered what kind of stats it would take to monkey wrench the system. Thought Reed's would be high, too. I'm sure nobody would complain if a KU player each game had Brady's type of confusing numbers.

Didn't expect the starters average would be as high as they were.

97jhawk 10 years, 9 months ago

Love the analytical breakdown Jesse.

It really shows how the numbers don't lie and it ties directly to how the game was played out. I'm a numbers nerd so it appeals to me in that fashion as well...haha.

Thanks for these articles J-New!

JRandall 10 years, 9 months ago

Thanks for the great article and break down Jesse. It will be intersting to see in the Big 12 tourney and March Madness, which strategy and game plan teams come at us with. Maybe this game and result, will cause those grind it out teams to rethink that strategy as we have the weapons to counter that kind of game.

Thanks again for the insight.

Ben Kane 10 years, 9 months ago

here's some quotes to prove that V is completely east coast centric and has no clue about kansas:

What would be something that would keep Kansas from winning a national championship?

Dick Vitale (11:19 AM)

When you look at Kansas right now, I love the way the Morris guys are playing. A little more consistency in the level of perimeter play. Depth is a concern. When you start getting teams into the Sweet 16 and Elite 8, those kinds of things really become important.

Jim (pittsburgh)

who do you feel is the deepest team in the country?

Dick Vitale (11:21 AM)

Wow. Good question. That's a really good question. When you look at Duke, Carolina, Kansas, OSU, they really don't use their bench. You know Pitt is a good deep team. Keep an eye on UCLA too. They're starting to play well defensively. Nobody's talking about them.

I'm sorry mr vitale, but depth is not a concern for kansas this year...

JRandall 10 years, 9 months ago

Wow... I love DickieV and what he has done for the College Baskeball game, but those quotes u just put up... he is clueless. KU is shooting the perimeter ball as well as almost anyone. Our bench is deeper (number of players) than anyone I can think of, and to top that off... the quality and production of those players coming off the bench is top notch.

The team that is most impressive and concerning to me right now.. is Notre Dame. That is a very well coached, experienced, deep team. Lots of senior leadership and very good perimeter and tough post play.

Dickie V.. go get ur next endorsement check from the Big East.. disappointed.

Justin LoBurgio 10 years, 9 months ago

DickieV is unaware of anything west of Atlanta. I'm surprised he mentioned UCLA.

waywardJay 10 years, 9 months ago

He's convinced it's a seperate country called Krzyzewskiville..... Capital City, Northern Syra-nnectic-olina.

Alohahawk 10 years, 9 months ago

Give the guy a break. Dukie Vitale loses brain matter with every hair folicle that falls out. As you can see, there ain't much hair left to contain what little he has left underneath.

sloppyscience 10 years, 9 months ago

Thanks for the breakdown Jesse. And for an unrelated request as a fan of your work: Any possible way you'll release a statistical analysis of how much more often a bramlage crowd boos than any other place on the planet??

KU_FanSince75 10 years, 9 months ago

Jesse---

You continue to amaze me with your analysis. I have to admit, you had me in suspense, as I was trying to guess Game X. I was thinking it wasn't a game from this year. We haven't lost to a team this year by two points. And, then you put UNI in there from last year for Game X. It all made sense. Pretty sharp on your part to compare the two.

Not only did Brady get the M.O.J. award, he also, had the best Senior speech. Tyrel had a good speech, too. It was Brady's speech that made me cry the most. I said to myself, "I am not going to cry, I'm not going to cry." Yet, I still had tears coming out of my eyes. Last year, I cried when Sherron gave his speech---oh, well. Thanks again, Jesse. You're the best!

Christopher Hauser 10 years, 9 months ago

I think it was in the first half where Little had a great hedge on a ball screen almost out to half court and then hustled back to the baseline to draw a charge. This was the best defensive play I have seen him make all year and it really pumped me up. I had to rewind it on my dvr and watch it a couple of times. Great defensive posession for Mario, loved it.

BCRavenJHawkfan 10 years, 9 months ago

I like the comparison but does A&M have a shooting savant like UNI's Ali Babba and The Forty Thieves?

HawksWin 10 years, 9 months ago

May have been an "ugly game", but the stats look pretty. Numbers don't lie! Thanks for that analytic. Hopefully our Jayhawks are mentally starving/hungary for NC!

Ben Kane 10 years, 9 months ago

Lunardi's power rankings as of today... what is he smoking?

Ohio State

Pittsburgh

Texas

Kansas

Duke

Brigham Young

San Diego State

Notre Dame

Georgetown

Connecticut

Villanova

Wisconsin

Purdue

Syracuse

Florida

Kentucky

North Carolina

Arizona

Louisville

Texas A&M

Missouri

West Virginia

Vanderbilt

Illinois

Tennessee

KGphoto 10 years, 9 months ago

Until the day I die, this is the only thing I'll see when I look at Joe Lunardi. He's the most annoying individual.

http://whatscookingamerica.net/Poultry/PoultryPhotos/ChickenCooked5.jpg

Alohahawk 10 years, 9 months ago

Saw him on the corner buying some pakalolo a few days ago. Thought it might be oregano, but must have been Maui Wowie or Kona Gold.

Purdue too low. Villanova too high. Where are K-State, St. Johns and Utah State? Georgetown questionable without their starting guard. BYU could easily plummet from the top 15 without Davies. Their next Baylor game may be the true sounding board for what Texas does in the big dance. Kenstinky and Missery have trouble winning on the road. From this list, surprised he didn't include Michigan State.

KGphoto 10 years, 9 months ago

Texas is slipping border goodies to Hubert Davis too. He's been totally stoned on Texas Tea since they beat KU. Doesn't matter that KU handled Nebraska twice, Colorado twice, and USC. They're just high on horns.

Good thing those guys don't matter.

Michael Luby 10 years, 9 months ago

Seriously, Looney Lunardi has no idea what he is talking about. I could do better at ranking teams. Pitt and Texas over KU? No way. Wisconsin isnt a top 10 team and Kstate and StJohns dont even get mentioned? Sorry, wrong!

Dirk Medema 10 years, 9 months ago

That's really different than the one I'm seeing for week 17 with tOSU, KU, Pitt, Duke, Purdue at the top.

HawksWin 10 years, 9 months ago

Jesse, could you look into the stats used by ESPN David Thorp & his claim for the top 4 NBA draft that included Marcus & Kieff? I was pleased to see Kieff mentioned, and very curious to know what data points he was analyzing - perhaps your stats? :)

doctorWho 10 years, 9 months ago

Despite the interesting statistical analysis, the game-factor that no regular season game or even conference tournament game simulates is the pregame overconfidence and the game-day single-elimination-pressure of a David vs Goliath match-up during the NCAA tournament on a neutral court.

Here's hoping KU's learned what it takes to avoid being slingshot fodder again this year.

Aaron Rosenthal 10 years, 9 months ago

One word of caution. Last February KU won a supremely tough game in College Station by the score of 59-54 against a better Texas A&M than this one. That didn't do much good vs. Northern Iowa, did it?

I agree with Newell and everyone else that last night's performance is encouraging precisely because it was an NCAA-like game. And this KU team is different. Last year's team was really a grinding team if you're honest about it. So the value of last night's lesson is probably greater for this year's squad.

Let's hope so...

Dan Harris 10 years, 9 months ago

I'm pretty sure Coach Self has them focused on more then just winning the Big 12 every year.

Michael Luby 10 years, 9 months ago

Hey Jesse, Good article once again. Its good to know that this year KU can win grind it out games with no rhythm. KU's road win % this year is pretty darn good, lets see how they can do in the same type of game in the tournaments coming up. Im betting they do alot better this year. They are definitely a final four caliber team despite what Looney Lunardi says and Vacant Vitale. Pitt and Texas over KU? Really? KU doesnt have a good bench or enough depth to make a long tourney run? Really?
wtf over?

REHawk 10 years, 9 months ago

Time to cut the fence and spook poor ol' Dick out to a verdant pasture where he can merely stand and ruminate until his final breath. Considering his prognostications and disregard for the Jayhawk strength and bench this season, he truly must live in LaLa Land. The guy has become little more than a televised clown whose factual knowledge of the game he analyzes is on a level with the historical awareness and savvy of the typical American political office holder.

bdk980 10 years, 9 months ago

yes... but UNI had a big man inside that frustrated the bejeez out of Sharron.

wyansas 10 years, 9 months ago

KU trailed the whole UNI game, and KU never lost control and kept A&M at arms length the whole time. The two games aren't similar at all.

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