Recap: Offense abounds in Nebraska


A Doc Sadler-coached team and a Bill Self-coached team match up. What do you expect to see?

Before Wednesday, I would have answered, "Defense," (capital D for emphasis!) right away. After Wednesday's 84-72 Kansas victory at Lincoln, Neb., I'm a bit confused.

The Huskers posted an above-average Effective FG% (eFG%) of 53.8 percent, the second-highest yielded by KU this season. Nebraska committed turnovers on just 14.5 percent of its possessions and posted a solid 39.6 Free Throw Rate. Those numbers helped Nebraska score 1.16 points per possession. Before Wednesday, KU's most porous defensive effort came Sunday at Tennessee (1.09 points per possession allowed).

Even compared to that of Nebraska, KU's scoring output was incredible. The Jayhawks enjoyed their best shooting night of the season (72.2 eFG%). To offer a bit of perspective, the last time KU shot as well was Dec. 1, 2003, in an 85-66 victory at Texas Christian (74.0 eFG%). KU scored a surprisingly low 1.35 points per possession, its fifth-best total of the season. The reason the Jayhawks didn't end up with a truly historic offensive performance was their habit of turning the ball over. KU coughed up the ball on 21 percent of its possessions. Sophomore guard Tyshawn Taylor and junior center Cole Aldrich each committed turnovers on more than 25 percent of their possessions used.

So what makes Wednesday's offensive explosion so special? KU is, after all,'s No. 2 offense, and Nebraska was playing for pride in front of an excitable Devaney Center crowd.

Let's look at these coaches' defensive pedigree in terms of KenPom's Adjusted Defensive Efficiency:

Bill Self (KU):

• 2007: 1st nationally, 1st Big 12

• 2008: 1st, 1st

• 2009: 7th, 1st

• 2010: 2nd, 1st

Doc Sadler (NU):

• 2007: 89th, 9th

• 2008: 13th, 3rd

• 2009: 19th, 3rd

• 2010: 63rd, 8th

Nebraska hasn't stopped teams this season at the same rate it did in the past two seasons, but Sadler clearly has improved the Huskers' defense since his first year on the job. Self's resume speaks for itself.

M.O.J. (Most Outstanding Jayhawk)

A player who scores one point for every two minutes of playing time is generally considered an active offensive player. For example, KU guard Sherron Collins, Iowa State forward Craig Brackins and Texas Tech forward Mike Singletary are three Big 12 Conference players hovering at or near 20 points per 40 minutes played.

Marcus Morris scored 19 points in 21 minutes Wednesday. How's that for active? The sophomore forward was efficient, too, going 7-for-8 from the field and 2-for-2 on three-pointers. In sum, Morris created 1.56 points per possession used and grabbed 51 percent of possible rebounds during his minutes. His raw Efficiency of 23 was the second-best of his career. KU forward Marcus Morris advances the ball against Nebraska guard Brandon Richardson.

Room for improvement

Ideally, KU would have liked to limit the Huskers' 103rd-ranked offense to less than one point per possession. Or at least make Nebraska look uncomfortable. On top of its high shooting percentage, the home team didn't have many issues running its offense against KU's esteemed defense. The Huskers posted a 2-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio (second time KU has allowed 2-to-1 or better this season) and assisted 78.3 percent of their made field goals. Nebraska guard Lance Jeter and wing Ryan Anderson* really distributed the ball well: The pair combined for 13 assists and three turnovers.

*Is it me, or has Ryan Anderson played for Nebraska for about 13 years?

Hard luck line

The only Jayhawk who endured a worse-than-average offensive night was freshman guard Xavier Henry. Henry made two shots in 26 minutes and converted on less than half of his attempts for the third consecutive game.

The Bottom Line:

Sieve-like defense or no, Wednesday's game seemed to serve as a palate-cleanser after KU's rough weekend. When basketball fans around the country see "Kansas 84, Nebraska 72" scroll by on the bottom of their TVs this morning, they won't think anything of it. That's usually a good thing for KU.


Jesse Newell 10 years ago

It's interesting that NU coach Doc Sadler talked afterwards about how he thought his team got into a scoring match with KU. Looking at the numbers, the possessions (62 according to were really low, so NU actually did a good job of slowing down KU. The Huskers just played horrible defensively.

suttonku 10 years ago

I think both teams didnt really play well defensively but I thought KU played much better defense than the stats show. I thought Nebraska just hit shots. I thought we contested really well for the most part.

Alec White 10 years ago

I laughed at loud when I read that comment about Ryan Anderson. Me and my dad were trying to remember the last time we played a Nebraska team without that annoying 6'4 PF who always seems to show up and play well against the Hawks'. He actually has turned into a solid player but the whole Big XII should be embarrassed that he's leading the conference in steals. You guys want to know somthing else about him that will make you laugh? He actually declared for the NBA draft last year and decided to come back to college lol. I guess The League has no room for unathletic 6'4 power forwards that are headcases. Who woulda guessed???

Benjamin Piehler 10 years ago

not sure whats up with xavi, but he better snap out of it

suttonku 10 years ago

X will be back to normal hes just in a slump...I could tell before the game even started that he was going to be bad in the game at Nebraska. I think I watched him miss 13 shots in a row in warmups.

actorman 10 years ago

Thanks Asher. As a numbers geek, I always love your in-depth analyses. It's great to see things broken down so thoroughly.

I too loved the line about Ryan Anderson. Wasn't he the one who crowed and made a spectacle of himself a few years ago when he made a few shots late in a game where KU was slaughtering Nebraska by something like 30 points? He made himself look like a self-centered idiot when he did that.

I'm not too worried about X, as it seems like he's just going through a typical freshman slump. The one thing I am worried about (to paraphrase what another poster said a little while ago) is that he sometimes seems like a kinder, gentler version of J.R. Giddens in that he often just settles for the three-pointer. With his athletic ability and HCBS's usual magic, hopefully he will soon evolve into a more complete player.

nnelson 10 years ago

I'm glad people have the same Ryan Anderson deja vu going on. It's unsettling.

And yes, actorman, Ryan Anderson was the player who showboated during a 20-point Nebraska loss in 2007. The Huskers trailed, 43-8, in the first half before Anderson and his 19 points led Nebraska back (not really) into the game.

But hey, he did score more than twice as many points in that game as any one of his teammates.

AsherFusco 10 years ago

^^^^ That post up there is actually me. Logout/Login FAIL.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.