Recap: KU's low-post offense a no-show at Tennessee
For the first time this season, Kansas allowed its opponent more than one point per possession. For the second time this season, KU scored less than one point per possession. Not surprisingly, for the first time this season, KU lost.
So what happened?
• The Jayhawks didn't get much offense in the low post.
Junior center Cole Aldrich — usually a big target for passes and a sure bet to score — found himself blanketed by Tennessee players all afternoon. Vols fronted the post when Aldrich fought for position and kept a back side defender nearby to eliminate KU's ability to throw lob passes to the 6-foot-11 Minnesotan. When Aldrich did catch the ball with his back to the basket, Tennessee quickly and masterfully collapsed on him to limit his offensive options. Aldrich finished with fantastic rebounding numbers (he grabbed 65 percent the of available rebounds while he was in the game) and a solid block total (14 percent of Tennessee's shots), but he only took 10 percent of KU's shots while in the game. Aldrich's 10 percent Shot Percentage was tied for the lowest among Jayhawks who played more than two minutes.
http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2010/Jan/11/ku_bkc_tenn_04hz.jpg Cole Aldrich tries to score against the sturdy Tennessee defense — Nick Krug/LJW Photo
Sophomore forwards Marcus and Markieff Morris didn't pick up the slack. Marcus finished with a 13 percent Shot Percentage while Markieff posted a 10 percent Shot Percentage. In sum, the post troika combined to create 17 points in 68 minutes.
• Tennessee guard Bobby Maze (almost) had the game of his career.
The 6-2 Maze racked up an "efficiency" of 21 against KU. The only time the guard has put together a better all-around game was in a 2008 game against Georgetown. Maze, usually content to stay a pass-first role player, attacked the paint repeatedly against KU's soft perimeter defense. Maze ended up scoring 16 points on 5-for-10 shooting, grabbing seven rebounds and distributing eight assists. Most importantly, Maze committed just two turnovers in leading his Vols to their second-lowest Turnover Rate of the season (11.4 percent).
• KU failed to take care of the ball
As painful as this game was to watch from impartial ground, I can only imagine the hair-pulling KU fans did Sunday afternoon. The Jayhawks turned the ball over on 22.9 percent of their possessions: More than the national average and the team's third-worst performance of the season. Among the starters, the most careless Jayhawks were sophomore guard Tyshawn Taylor (30 percent Turnover Rate) and freshman guard Xavier Henry (25 percent Turnover Rate). Senior guard Sherron Collins' high possession usage offset his four turnovers and he finished with only a 20 percent Turnover Rate.
M.O.J. (Most Outstanding Jayhawk)
Despite his lack of offensive opportunities, the honor goes to Cole Aldrich. KU's center blocked four shots and, most importantly, snared 18 rebounds. Ten of those rebounds came on the offensive glass. With the Jayhawks throwing away possession after possession through turnovers, the extra possessions the team gained by way of Aldrich's work on the glass might have been the difference between the actual eight point margin and a more reputation-tarnishing 15 point deficit.
Room for improvement
Hard luck line
If you're charged with doing half of your team's ball distribution and you register more turnovers than assists, it just isn't your afternoon. Tyshawn Taylor committed four turnovers and earned three assists Sunday to go along with 4-for-11 field goal shooting and just one rebound.
The Bottom Line
Losses happen to bad teams, losses happen to good teams and losses happen to great teams. KU certainly is not bad and probably is better than good. There's no reason to panic. This loss doesn't go on the conference ledger and won't look terrible come March.
The always-enlightening Game Flow chart, compliments of StatSheet.com: