Recap: KU pushes past KSU on its way to 20-1


It's practically impossible to narrow the difference between two teams down to any single aspect of a game. Every contest is full of factors and reasons for success and failure, variables in an equation that solves itself after 40 — or 45, in Saturday's case — minutes.

So I'm not going to type all about how fouls and free throws decided this one for KU. But I do believe fouls, free throws and KU's ability to win that particular battle certainly helped the Jayhawks move to 20-1.

The Jayhawks entered Saturday with a Free Throw Rate (FTA/FGA*100) of 41.2 percent: a very solid figure. The Wildcats entered the game with a 55.9 FT Rate, tops in the nation. Basically, Kansas State was averaging more than one free throw attempt for every two field goal attempts. Considering a team is likely to score about 1.4 points per possession on a trip that includes two free throws compared to approximately one point per possession a trip ending in a field goal attempt, Kansas State seems to have this whole "get fouled, score points" thing down pat.

KU turned the tables on Saturday.

The Jayhawks posted an astronomical 61.1 FT Rate, their third best of the season. Meanwhile, the Wildcats posted a very pedestrian 32.8 FT Rate. Both teams made an average portion of their free throw attempts, with Kansas State's 68 percent mark barely trumping KU's 67 percent. As you might have guessed already, KU took 11 more free throws than Kansas State and made seven more. The teams matched each other possession-for-possession in most other categories, making the free throw discrepancy one of the main factors in KU's victory. KSU coach Frank Martin could have used a few more free throws. LJW Photo/Nick Krug

In other foul-related news, KU center Cole Aldrich's ability to avoid his fifth foul was absolutely key. For most of his career, Aldrich has shown a singular knack for avoiding foul calls, given his size and aggressive play. After picking up four in the first 32-ish minutes of Saturday's game, Aldrich stayed on the court for most of the final five minutes of regulation and the five-minute overtime period, helping KU to victory.

M.O.J. (Most Outstanding Jayhawk)

Guard Sherron Collins took matters into his hands when KU most needed a leader, Cole Aldrich managed to avoid disqualification in approximately 10 minutes of crucial late-game playing time, but it was guard Brady Morningstar who did the most to help KU win.

In my mind, Saturday's game served as a quick-and-easy guide to why Morningstar is a valuable basketball player, despite his penchant for making unfortunate fashion statements. Here's my theory on Morningstar and why he helps KU so much: The Lawrence native rarely, if ever, does anything he's not good at on the court.

• Morningstar isn't usually a threat to score off the dribble or drive. He picks his spots and utilizes mismatches instead of forcing the issue and driving into turnovers.

• Morningstar doesn't rebound especially well. That's not a problem, considering he makes himself available for outlet passes from KU's bigs that help start fast breaks.

Then there's the stuff Morningstar does well. He's a dead-eye shooter (62.5 eFG%) from both inside (12-for-22) and outside (12-for-26) the three-point arc. He isn't a foul magnet, but his 27 percent Free Throw Rate is nearly double his rate from one season ago. Morningstar is a wonderful passer with the kind of court vision that seems to create quite a few "hockey assists" (making the pass before the assist). He's an excellent defender, equipped with lateral quickness paralleled by few of his teammates. Morningstar used that side-to-side speed to hold Kansas State guard Denis Clemente to 13 points on 4-for-15 shooting Saturday.

Morningstar posted this gem of a line:

39 minutes, 14 points on 4-for-5 shooting(!), three steals, one turnover, and a game-high 1.93 points per possession used.

Room for improvement:

Kansas State turned the ball over with average frequency (18.6 percent TO Rate), posted subpar shooting numbers (47.8 eFG%) and didn't get to the free throw line too often (32.8 percent FT Rate). Regardless, Kansas State scored a solid 1.13 points per possession.

Two words: Offensive rebounding.

The Wildcats snatched up a rebound on half of the shots they missed (most teams grab about one-third of their misses). All those offensive rebounds led to extra possessions and some easy looks.

On the bright side for KU, the Jayhawks corralled 48.5 percent of their misses en route to a 1.16 point-per-possession showing.

Hard luck line:

Sophomore forward Markieff Morris' poor performance might have easily blended into a 25-point KU victory. But placed under the microscope of a one-possession conference battle, Morris' 21-minute, 0-for-1 stinker stood out. Markieff did grab rebounds on 32 percent of his opportunities, but the 0-for-4 mark from the free throw line was just ugly, especially considering the circumstances.

The Bottom Line:

No doubt, this Kansas State team is better than the Michael Beasley/Bill Walker/nobody else edition that topped KU in 2008 at Bramlage Coliseum.* So what does that make KU? Better than the '08 squad that ended up winning the NCAA Championship? There's no way of knowing that at this point, but we do know KU is the best team in the nation, no questions asked.

*It's called Bramlage Coliseum, not "The Octagon of Doom." Where did that nickname come from? It's horrible. And it makes me think of Sega Dreamcast for some reason.

A look at just how give-and-take this one was. As always, thanks to the inimitable for the Game Flow graphic.


Al Martin 10 years ago


This is always interesting stuff, and I really enjoy looking at it, win or lose. Thanks for doing the legwork.

Alec White 10 years ago

Agreed, I always look forward to these articles after game day.

ParisHawk 10 years ago

Driving to the basket is hardly Brady's strong point, but the last few games he has picked his spots exceedingly well, and in pressure situations. What he does well he does very well, and what he doesn't do well he does well anyway, just less often.

I think Sherron, Cole, Marcus and Brady are the ones who look like Championship caliber players (each in his role of course). We don't need more from Taylor and Markieff than what they can do, they just need to be more consistent. To me the question mark is Xavier.

James Donnell 10 years ago

Xavier looks like he is just not quite ready for prime time. With a quick and solid defensive team like K-State, his marginal ball handling was exposed. He looked like he was in slow motion. Perhaps it was the tough atmosphere, or maybe something else was affecting him, but he is going to have to come around and contribute in a significant way for KU to win six in a row at the end of the season.

Doug Merrill 10 years ago

"Morningstar doesn't rebound especially well. That's not a problem, considering he makes himself available for outlet passes from KU's bigs that help start fast breaks..."

I think you have to consider the possibility that the latter fact is the reason for the former, rather than true-true and unrelated.

AsherFusco 10 years ago

Good point, dougmd.

Another thing to consider when looking at KU's individual rebounding numbers: They're competing for rebounds not only against opponents, but against Cole Aldrich. Aldrich is the Big 12's third-best defensive rebounder and fourth-best offensive rebounder, grabbing a total of 40.5 percent of available boards.

This is obviously a good thing for KU but it probably holds some players' individual rebound totals down.

ParisHawk 10 years ago

Again, Brady has had some very timely rebounds, or tips that got us rebounds. Sherron does the big things when we need them, Brady does the little things when we need them.

Mike Kendall 10 years ago

Asher--Great job, as always! It is always a good read.

MrPilot----OMG, I 'bout threw up on my laptop--that scared the crap out of me--if I was at the grocery store, it would not have been a problem, but I am looking at my laptop screen, for cryin' out loud!!!!!

Orwell 10 years ago


Either BatBoy or the somewhat less frightening Purple Martin. Either way he flies off easily.

"Octagon of Doom?" Sounds like another case of the standard K-State approach – "Let's do something like they do at KU (Beware of The Phog), only different." As soon as the national media start equating Bramlage with AFH as the greatest college basketball environment I'll start paying attention.

johnnyphoton 10 years ago

jdonne44, my take is X will be a weapon once the tournament starts. As less talented teams slow the game down with zone defenses, outside shooting will be a premium. To me, it's not so much whether or not X will contribute, it's a matter of him hitting the shots when he takes them. His defense has been solid. But I agree, his lack of ball handling skills and outright foot speed doesn't allow him to be on the court with fast, pressing teams.

Kevin Huffman 10 years ago

The good & bad that stood out in this game to me:

GOOD - Sherron taking over at the critical times as always on the offensive end. Cole still looking aggressive as he has the past few games. Tyshawn emerging as a complementary threat especially once Marcus went out with his 5th Foul (almost like you could tell that had been expressed in a huddle on the sidelines or something).

BAD - Cole's FG one point was 3-9 from the floor missing numerous easy put-backs!! :( Xavier disappearing again.....dude hasn't turned out the way I thought he would thus far this season and it's starting to get DEEP into the season more excuses...rise up! FT-shooting especially in the first half. Officiating letting too much contact from Pullen go uncalled.

Kevin Huffman 10 years ago

One other thing that I didn't like from Saturday's game is that we've heard how deep we are but to me we didn't develop this supposed depth this year. We really don't get the contributions from the freshmen that I was expecting coming into the season.

Ryan Shelton 10 years ago

Was anyone else impressed with the way Taylor played? I think he was on of the main reasons we won in Manhattan. He made plays, and when fouled, made his free throws, which seemed to be a problem for some others.

JayhawkBigXII 10 years ago

Tyshawn doesn't seem to have a problem driving the lane, but didn't he have 2 offensive fouls driving against K-State? X should be driving more, Xspecially being left handed...and Xspecially when the opposing bigs are in foul trouble. If X sticks around next year, he should have plenty of room to Xspand his game with Collins gone.

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