The end result of Saturday's game — 94-74, Kansas — was far from unusual. But the way KU defeated Colorado didn't completely follow the script. Several interesting irregularities stood out after a quick jaunt through the DVR and a glance at the numbers:
• KU ran and Colorado played along. The game's exceptionally quick tempo was apparent upon first viewing, but truly stood out in the stats. The teams played at a 77-possession pace, KU's second-snappiest of the season and tied for the fastest the Buffs have played. Colorado coach Jeff Bzdelik isn't known for engineering an up-tempo game plan, although Colorado entered Saturday ranked a middling 151st in pace nationally (the coach has consciously sped up his team's sets). Instead of holding things up like they did in a 71-possession KU victory that took overtime to settle on Feb. 3 in Boulder, the Buffs ran with the Jayhawks. Unfortunately for Colorado, it isn't as good as KU at any pace. The two squads both shot relatively well and committed quite a few turnovers, but KU did almost everything better than Colorado did.
• The Buffs scored with relative ease. KU allowed Colorado 0.96 points per possession, just worse than the national average and approximately equal to the KU defense's standard against Big 12 Conference competition. Colorado entered the game with the Big 12's eighth-best offense (51st nationally), so Saturday wasn't a total aberration. The Buffs 51.8 eFG% performance did seem shocking, however, considering KU was on the heels of holding both Texas A&M and Iowa State to worse than 0.89 points per possession.
http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2010/Feb/21/ku_bkc_cu_02.jpg Marcus Relphorde and Colorado posted decent offensive numbers on Saturday — Nick Krug/LJW Photo
Two aspects of Saturday's game that didn't surprise:
• The Jayhawks scored early and scored often. Colorado entered the game as the Big 12's second-worst defensive team. KU came in as the conference's top offensive power. The Jayhawks scored 1.22 points per possession, their second-strongest showing of the conference season. KU offset committing a turnover on 23.4 percent of its possessions by grabbing 43.8 percent of available offensive rebounds and making 54.7 percent of its shot attempts. Every KU starter, along with guards Brady Morningstar and Tyrel Reed, contributed more than one point per possession used.
• KU dominated the boards. Colorado played four guards for much of the game — which helped it keep up with KU's tempo — and struggled accordingly to grab rebounds. The Jayhawks pulled down nearly half of the available offensive rebounds while the Buffs grabbed just 21.2 percent of their possible offensive boards. Especially strong offensive rebounding performances came from forward Marcus Morris and center Cole Aldrich.
M.O.J. (Most Outstanding Jayhawk)
In a game in which all of KU's starters posted strong numbers, the M.O.J. Award realistically could have gone to one of three players:
Guard Xavier Henry, thanks to 4-for-7 three-point shooting, created 1.45 points per possession used. Aldrich delivered a "routine" 17-point, 10-rebound double-double, didn't commit a turnover and produced 1.56 points per possession. Guard Tyshawn Taylor, however, might have delivered the most effective mix of offense and defense. The St. Anthony High School product went 6-for-7 from the field, led KU in Assist Percentage, disrupted a combined 8.4 percent of Colorado's possessions via block or steal and created 1.83 points per possession. Seems like there's something to KU coach Bill Self's thought that Taylor plays best when starting. No matter the reason for the renaissance, Taylor certainly served up his best game of the season on Saturday.
All of these guys had reason to celebrate. Especially M.O.J. Tyshawn Taylor — Nick Krug/LJW Photo
Room For Improvement
We addressed the merely decent defense above, and Bill Self talked a bit about it in his post-game press conference. Aside from those minor defensive inconsistencies, KU did what it was expected to in racking up a +0.28 points-per-possession margin against the 3-9 Buffs.
Hard Luck Line
True to form, Brady Morningstar managed to post a +5 plus/minus number while going a scoreless 0-for-1 in 17 minutes.
The Bottom Line:
When KU's offense clicks like it did Saturday, it's hard to imagine the Jayhawks losing in the regular season, Big 12 Tournament or NCAA Tournament. True, the defense could use a tuneup heading into tougher competition, but wow, that KU offense is something when Tyshawn Taylor is in rhythm.
Our handy Game Flow, presented with thanks to StatSheet.com: