Recap: The Jayhawks' best two-point shooters this year are ...
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.
Following Kansas' strong two-point shooting in Saturday's 72-61 victory over Oklahoma on Saturday, I thought we'd start this blog by looking at KU's most accurate shooters from inside the arc this season.
As you might have already read in Tom Keegan's column, KU made 25 of 39 two-pointers against OU (64 percent) in a game it only shot four of 19 from three (21 percent).
So who do you think the Jayhawks' best two-point shooters have been this season? Come up with a couple guesses before looking at the full list, which is below this picture.
1. Travis Releford — 64.5 percent (40 of 62)
2. Elijah Johnson — 63.6 percent (28 of 44)
3. Kevin Young — 63.0 percent (17 of 27)
4. Jeff Withey — 57.1 percent (40 of 70)
5. Conner Teahan — 55.6 percent (10 of 18)
6. Thomas Robinson — 54.1 percent (100 of 185)
7. Justin Wesley — 52.2 percent (12 of 23)
8. Tyshawn Taylor — 44.0 percent (51 of 116)
9. Naadir Tharpe — 40.0 percent (4 of 10)
(NCAA average is 47.6 percent; source: KenPom.com)
I was surprised a bit that Releford tops this list, but he does get a lot of easy shots in transition and also is choosy with his field goal attempts.
Johnson is second for some of the same reasons: He gets quite a few lob dunk attempts and also doesn't force up a lot of guarded two-pointers.
The two-point percentage that stands out the most is Taylor's — especially considering he's shot better from two-point range in the past.
Tyshawn Taylor two-point percentages
2008-09 — 56.1 percent (96 of 171)
2009-10 — 47.6 percent (70 of 147)
2010-11 — 50.5 percent (97 of 192)
2011-12 — 44.0 percent (51 of 116)
Taylor obviously has taken a bigger role in this year's offense, as he's taking 23.5 percent of his team's shots while he's in, compared to 17.2 percent last year.
The numbers above also don't take into account that he's been great at getting to the free throw line, as his free throw rate (58.6) ranks 132nd nationally.
Still, Taylor had made 51.6 percent of his career twos coming into this season. With that percentage this year, he'd have nine more made twos, which would be 1.2 more points per game.
I've thought about it, but I can't come up with an explanation for why Taylor's two-point percentage would be down that much this season. Any ideas?
M.O.J. (Most Outstanding Jayhawk)
Travis Releford's individual effort against OU should rank as KU's second best this year, trailing only Thomas Robinson's 30/20 game against North Dakota.
Releford posted 1.87 points per possession used while ending a healthy 22 percent of KU's possessions while he was in.
The junior also was super-efficient, making 9 of 13 field goals and 3 of 5 threes to give him an effective field goal percentage of 80.7 percent — highest on the team among players with more than one shot.
During Releford's 34 minutes on the floor, KU outscored OU by 17 (65-48). No other Jayhawk was better than plus-12 against the Sooners.
In his last three games, Releford has averaged 19.3 points while making 20 of 34 field goals (59 percent) and six of 13 threes (46 percent).
Room for Improvement
The Jayhawks put the Sooners on the free throw line too often.
Oklahoma's free throw rate of 56.0 was its highest this year and its 28 free throws attempted were its third-most this season.
Though KU was foul prone early in the season, it actually had done a nice job lately of limiting opposing free throw attempts. In fact, in the Jayhawks' four games before Oklahoma, they had allowed 13, 10, eight and 16 free throws.
KU's defense made up for the deficiency by forcing OU's highest turnover percentage this year (26.6 percent) while also holding the Sooners to their second-worst shooting game (41.0 eFG%).
Conner Teahan had a rough game offensively in his 18 minutes.
The senior posted just 0.28 points per possession used while ending 20.8 percent of the possessions he was in.
Not only did Teahan make just one of five shots, he also was uncharacteristically careless with the ball. He posted three turnovers, which tied a career high. His only other game with three turnovers was against USC earlier this year.
Even including his 0-for-3 performance from three against OU, Teahan has still made 10 of 24 long-range shots in his last five games (42 percent).
If KU is in need of a three-pointer, he's still the Jayhawks' best option.
KU's offense rebounded from a sluggish first half by getting lots of easy shots in the second half.
Two-thirds of the Jayhawks' second-half points (26 of 39) came from inside the paint. That offensive execution helped KU to 1.13 points per possession overall, which is above its season average of 1.09 PPP.
Meanwhile, KU forced steals on 21.9 percent of its defensive possessions — the second-best mark this season behind the Towson game.
The Jayhawks have become a swarming defensive team since failing to force a turnover in the second half of Dec. 19's 80-74 loss to Davidson.
In KU's first 10 games (including Davidson), it forced turnovers on 21.6 percent of its possessions. Since then, KU has created giveaways on 88 of its 331 defensive possessions (26.6 percent).
The Jayhawks will have the chance to keep that trend going against Texas Tech on Wednesday, as the Red Raiders have the highest turnover percentage in the Big 12 (25 percent).