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Recap: Despite rebounding woes, KU bests A&M

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Rare is the basketball game that provides 40 minutes of excitement.* But when one of those comes along, it looks like this:

As is made apparent by StatSheet.com's nifty graphic above, Kansas and Texas A&M engaged in quite a tug-of-war Monday night.

The greatest gap between the two teams was found in their field goal percentages. KU posted a below-average 44.6 eFG% mark while the Aggies finished at a dismal 38.9 eFG%. A difference that substantial would usually lead to a more lopsided victory for the Jayhawks, but two components of Monday's game helped keep the margin of victory lean.

• The game was played at a plodding pace. The 61-possession pace was the slowest of the season for KU, a team that averages nearly 69 trips per game (122nd-fastest in the nation). The Aggies entered the game accustomed to slower-paced contests, averaging about 66 possessions per game (251st). KUSports.com Editor Jesse Newell has explored the connection between pace of play and KU's defensive efficiency in blogs past, coming to a tentative conclusion that opponents who slow things down enjoy more success against KU. That wasn't the case in College Station. Despite the Aggies' deliberate pace, KU's defense allowed just 0.89 points per possession, exactly its season average. The pace didn't necessarily harm the Jayhawks, but low-possession games tend to have smaller margins, in terms of raw point totals.

• Texas A&M dominated the glass. The Aggies gained scoring chances by crashing the offensive boards and negated KU's second-chance points by locking down the defensive glass. We'll tackle the stats in the 'Room For Improvement' section, but rebounding was a glaring issue for KU on Monday. Basketball 101: It's never good to give your opponent additional opportunities to score.

*There will be those who argue against calling a 59-54 game exciting. Those people — like those who favor a home run derby over a pitching duel — will be wrong. The game was close. Valuing possessions was of utmost importance. KU blocked 11.1 percent of Texas A&M's shots, and watching players block shots is really, really fun.

M.O.J. (Most Outstanding Jayhawk)

On a per-minute basis, Marcus* and Markieff Morris may have been KU's most efficient players. The pair combined to shoot 6-for-10 from the field, 9-for-10 from the free-throw line, score 21 points and grab nine rebounds. Unfortunately for the Jayhawks, the twins also committed eight fouls and played just 37 total minutes.

Long story short, Cole Aldrich was KU's most valuable player against Texas A&M. Aldrich was effective and managed to stay out of foul trouble. The center posted a 12-point, 10-rebound double-double in 33 minutes of action, though three turnovers dragged his Offensive Rating down. The KU center also was responsible for Texas A&M center Brian Davis sputtering to a 2-for-9, six-turnover, four-point performance that ended in his fifth foul. According to StatSheet.com, Davis produced just 0.32 points per possession used. That's about one-third of the national average.

http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2010/Feb/16/ku_bkc_am_09.jpg Cole Aldrich passed Greg Ostertag as KU's single-season blocks leader — Nick Krug/LJW Photo

*It should also be noted that pieces of Marcus Morris' impressive performance near the end of Monday's game would look nice on an All-Big 12 First Team highlight reel.

Room For Improvement

KU's offense was average at best, but no one offensive stat in particular stood out as ugly. KU's rebounding, on the other hand, looked bad all around. The Aggies corralled 44 percent of their missed shots, about 10 percent better than the national average. In stark contrast, KU grabbed just 27.6 percent of its available offensive rebounds, the team's worst performance of the conference season. KU actually entered the game as the better rebounding squad, but the Marcus Morris-David Loubeau matchup tilted far in Texas A&M's favor, as Morris grabbed 16 percent of available rebounds to Loubeau's 30 percent.

Hard Luck Line

One of Big Monday's main storylines was KU guard Sherron Collins' offensive struggle. The Jayhawks' floor leader missed and missed and missed until finally converting a field goal with just less than eight minutes remaining in the game. And not only did Collins miss shots, he committed five of KU's 11 turnovers. Collins finished with seven points on 2-for-9 shooting and generated 0.51 points per possession used.

Collins' poor performance might have been more troublesome had KU's complementary perimeter players not provided such solid games. Xavier Henry wasn't lights out (3-for-9) but he did grab six rebounds and commit just one turnover in 35 minutes. Brady Morningstar didn't make a shot, but he collected five assists to zero turnovers. Tyshawn Taylor* collected one block, one steal and four points, and Tyrel Reed made the Jayhawks' lone three-pointer.

*The comments to the Iowa State recap turned into a discussion of Tyshawn Taylor's merits, based on an anecdote I shared of a poor decision made by Taylor during KU's victory. Let it be known that this blog thinks highly of Taylor's contributions to KU's success. The sophomore is a great defender and an adequate offensive player, despite some turnover issues. Also, my personal impression from one season of covering him on a face-to-face basis last season: He's outgoing, friendly and undeserving of the bad rap constantly talked about by TV announcers.

The Bottom Line:

Speaking in "sportstalk," this game was exactly what KU needed: "A character-builder! A victory that helped teach KU to band together when the going got tough, etc.!"

In real terms, KU stared down a very good defensive team in a lively road environment and emerged 11-0 in conference play. This was exactly what KU needed: Another victory and another step toward the conference title.

Comments

Ben Kane 9 years, 7 months ago

I think it's time to take a stand against all the missing of our basketball games on ESPN the question is what do we do...

Any sort of boycott would hurt us more than them as we would then be punished by not being able to see our games at all. I think EverYOne needs to write a letter to the KUAD detailing how disappointed they are in missing 20% of nearly every ball game because of this. That letter should also include that we used to be able to listen to the beginning of games on internet radio until ESPN switched over but we can't do that anymore because KUAD shut down the internet radio option.

We are being screwed over by our conference and a school that are out for the mighty buck as oppossed to the best interest of the fans. Something has to be done.

Write letters! Write to the KUAD! Write to the Big12! Write to your congressmen!

this will never end unless we do something!

chicagojhwk 9 years, 7 months ago

Or you can just watch on ESPN 360 until it comes on the TV. That's what I do. If you don't have 360, that is your Internet provider's fault, not the Big 12, ESPN, or KUAD's fault. So write to them.

Ben Kane 9 years, 7 months ago

i hate to tell you this chicago but most major internet providers do not give access to espn360 because espn chargers them per subscriber which is unheard of.

Greg Lux 9 years, 7 months ago

There is a simple solution .. 8:20 start time ... That is a decision the Big 12 could make easily. Tell Espn effective immediately...

Rock Chalk

James Miller 9 years, 7 months ago

I agree with TT receiving more criticism than deserved.

James Miller 9 years, 7 months ago

I agree with TT receiving more criticism than deserved.

d_prowess 9 years, 7 months ago

While I do think Taylor gets a lot of criticism, it is only because he has shown how great he can be via his summer performance and some of his play here at KU. So, while it is a lot, I think most of it is justified. Look at the actions of Coach Self. He has stopped starting Taylor and has made numerous comments on his need for improvement. Just because he is good for the most part, doesn't mean he can be a lot better and that people should push him for that.

bg_duck1 9 years, 7 months ago

Sorry to say it but this petition is a JOKE its about $$$ and TV ratings and the game being on ESPN is much more important than KU fans missing the first few minutes of the game b/c the game before ran long. guess what its happened to us before and we've also made other teams miss the beginning of their games

Ryan Shelton 9 years, 7 months ago

Tyshawn has his head screwed on right now. He is a positive asset to our team, someone who hustles hard and produces. I wasn't very impressed with his transgressions when they happened, but America is the land of 2nd chances. I agree that he needs to be cut some slack.

slowplay 9 years, 7 months ago

"i hate to tell you this chicago but most major internet providers do not give access to espn360 because espn chargers them per subscriber which is unheard of."... However, they do not charge universities and military installations. I'm also pretty sure it's available through Sunflower and AT&T. It should not be an issue in Lawrence.

Clarence Haynes 9 years, 7 months ago

I was even able to access espn 360 in Asuncion Paraguay!

chicagojhwk 9 years, 7 months ago

"i hate to tell you this chicago but most major internet providers do not give access to espn360 because espn chargers them per subscriber which is unheard of."

Again, that is your ISPs fault, not the KUAD. I have no problem with my AT&T service. I switched from Comcast for basically that reason. You should look into it.

And hutch, doesn't matter if we are #1, ESPN isn't leaving their biggest market (northeast) in the last 4 minutes of the game (an upset no less) to go to the start of another game. What is more important, seeing the beginning of the game, or the end? By your reasoning, the KU telecast should have ended promptly at 10 for Sportscenter, leaving us without seeing the end of the game. But hey! at least we would have seen tip-off!

But i agree. The game times should be altered to accommodate.

63Jayhawk 9 years, 7 months ago

ChuckBerry32, I'll take the end of the game over the beginning anytime. I hate it when CBS carries the Hawks and cuts away to another game before the KU game is over. I don't like for the games to be on CBS. I laud ESPN for sticking with a game until it is over. It does not annoy me, becuase I know how angry I would be if I were a fan of one of the teams playing ahead of KU and they cut away early. Having said that, it would be nice if they allowed a little more time for the early game, but it is a only a minor concern for me.

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