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.
Going to go a little different direction with the start of this blog, as lots of quirky things happened during Kansas' 70-66 victory over Missouri on Saturday.
Here are 10 interesting facts about the KU-MU game on Saturday:
• Missouri's effective field goal percentage of 31.9 was its worst in the last 11 seasons. The last time the Tigers shot that poorly in a game was Jan. 4, 2000, against Winthrop.
• Missouri's 0.868 points per possession against KU were its second-fewest this season. Texas allowed 0.866 PPP to MU on Jan. 29.
• KU scored just 0.92 points per possession against MU — its third-lowest total of the year. KU scored fewer PPP at Michigan (0.91) and at home against Texas (0.88). KU has had four games when it has failed to score one point per possession and is 2-2 in those games.
• MU, which averaged 20 free throws per game in Big 12 play, shot 35 free throws Saturday. It was the most the Tigers had shot all season, topping the 31 free throws it attempted against Georgetown in an overtime game.
• Missouri also posted its highest free-throw rate (FTs attempted*100/FGs attempted) of the year at 60.3. MU's previous high this year was 50.8 against Nebraska on Jan. 12. During Big 12 play, the Tigers' free-throw rate ranked 11th in the conference (34.2).
• The Tigers scored 43.9 percent of their points from the free-throw line Saturday. MU averages scoring 19 percent of its points from the line.
• Missouri scored at least one point on just 38.6 percent of its possessions — its lowest mark in the last three seasons.
• It was only the second time all season that KU's defense did not record a blocked shot. The other game was Michigan on Jan. 9. KU has only had eight games where it hasn't recorded a block in the last 15 seasons.
• KU's game against Missouri had 76 possessions, the second-most for the Jayhawks in Big 12 play. Only the game at Iowa State (81 possessions) had more.
• Hat tip to Rock M Nation for this one: KU forwards Marcus Morris, Markieff Morris and Thomas Robinson combined for 46 points on 17-for-29 shooting (58.6 percent). The rest of the Jayhawks combined for 24 points on 7-for-26 shooting (26.9 percent).
We'll talk more about what the win means for KU in the "Bottom Line" below.
M.O.J. (Most Outstanding Jayhawk)
Thomas Robinson earns this honor even if we only took into account his rebounding.
The 6-foot-9 sophomore posted 13 rebounds in just 17 minutes, which made for some crazy statistics.
He brought down 47 percent of the available offensive rebounds when he was in there. To put that in perspective, the best offensive rebounding team in the nation (Old Dominion) has a team offensive rebounding percentage of 45.2 percent. On Saturday, Robinson's number was better than that, and he's only one guy.
Robinson's second-best offensive rebounding percentage day this year was the Oklahoma game, where he grabbed 34.7 percent of KU's misses. So Robinson, an already good offensive rebounder, topped his best day this year by 12.3 percent on Saturday.
Robinson also grabbed a team-high 32.8 percent of the available defensive rebounds while adding 15 points on 6-for-8 shooting to go with three turnovers. He had 13 points and eight rebounds in the second half alone.
Room for Improvement
Pretty obvious, isn't it?
The Jayhawks couldn't keep from turning the ball over, giving it away on 31.6 percent of their possessions.
It was KU's 10th-highest turnover percentage in the last 15 years and the highest of the season.
The most surprising thing to me about KU's turnovers is where they came from. I would have expected a handful of turnovers from new starting point guard Elijah Johnson and the sometimes-careless Tyshawn Taylor, but both of KU's point guards weren't part of the problem.
Johnson had no turnovers in 25 minutes, while Taylor had just one in 17 minutes.
Instead it was KU's big men (Marcus Morris 5, Markieff Morris 5, Robinson 3) and typically sure-handed guards (Brady Morningstar 4, Tyrel Reed 3) who contributed the most to the turnover count (though Josh Selby's three in seven minutes didn't help either).
I think we expected KU to turn the ball over on Saturday, but not quite at that pace. Though MU's defense deserves some credit and the atmosphere makes things more difficult, the Jayhawks did not handle the circumstances well and made too many unforced mistakes.
Josh Selby takes the Tough-Luck Line, and one has to wonder where he'll go from here.
The freshman looked completely frazzled against Missouri, posting three turnovers in seven first-half minutes before getting pulled. Selby did not play in the second half.
Before Saturday's game, I had heard some sentiment from KU fans that Selby should play point guard. That argument won't be made any more, as Selby couldn't seem to complete even simple passes when he was the team's main ball-handler against Missouri.
The Baltimore native posted just 0.11 points per possession used while ending a whopping 30 percent of KU's possessions while he was in there. As Tom Keegan pointed out, Selby has made just 9 of his last 34 field goals (26.5 percent) and 2 of his last 15 threes (13.3 percent).
KU is running out of time to have Selby find himself this season. Right now, the reality is that he's KU's ninth- or 10th-best player, despite all the hype coming in.
It'll be interesting to track him in the Big 12 Tournament, as he has more to gain than any other Jayhawk.
Is it too early to say KU's strength, right now, might actually be its defense?
Though KU had its third-worst offensive effort of the year, it still beat Missouri because of a tremendous defensive performance.
The Jayhawks have held four of their last five opponents under 0.88 PPP. In KU's previous 11 Big 12 games, it held none of its opponents to under 0.88 PPP.
Right now, KU is fourth nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency and seventh in adjusted defensive efficiency. Only one other team (Duke) is in the top 10 in both categories.
Forget the earlier criticisms of KU's defense. KU has rounded itself into a more balanced team over the last two weeks, and that has to be encouraging for its NCAA Tournament hopes.