Recap: Kansas overwhelms A&M with sheer talent
Kansas forward Marcus Morris found himself in foul trouble and his teammates managed to stay within striking distance of Texas A&M.
Texas A&M guard Donald Sloan ran into foul problems as well, but his teammates couldn't stem KU's second-half tide.
The difference in KU's 79-66 victory against Texas A&M on Friday wasn't quite that black and white. But Morris' and Sloan's foul issues certainly put on display the reason KU is so fearsome: The Jayhawks have enough talent to defeat a good team despite the loss of an offensive threat such as Marcus Morris. When the Jayhawks lost Morris for much of the first half, fellow KU bigs Cole Aldrich and Markieff Morris did their parts to ensure KU stayed within three points of Texas A&M at halftime. In the second half, Marcus Morris didn't often leave the bench, while Aldrich and Markieff Morris didn't often find themselves outmatched by the Aggies.
Check out the stat lines from the game's four most prominent post players:
• Bryan Davis, Texas A&M: 30 minutes, 0 eFG%, 21% Rebound Rate, 0% Assist Rate, 5.8% Steal Rate, 12.5% Block Rate, 0.43 points per possession, 9.8% of team's possessions used.
• David Loubeau, Texas A&M: 26 minutes, 66.6 eFG%, 5% Rebound Rate, 9.1% Assist Rate, 4.5% Steal Rate, 0% Block Rate, 1.24 points per possession, 13.5% of team's possessions used.
• Cole Aldrich, KU: 31 minutes, 100 eFG%, 19% Rebound Rate, 5.6% Assist Rate, 0% Steal Rate, 11.7% Block Rate, 0.81 points per possession, 15.1% of team's possessions used.
• Markieff Morris, KU: 29 minutes, 90 eFG%, 11% Rebound Rate, 24.5% Assist Rate, 4% Steal Rate, 12.5% Block Rate, 1.66 points per possession, 12.1% of team's possessions used.
Neither team's post players were especially active on offense, with none using more than 15.1 percent of his squad's possessions. But when they did assert themselves, KU's bigs did a more efficient job. Morris and Aldrich combined to create well over one point per possession (average), while Davis and Loubeau failed to earn one point per possession. Also, Aldrich and Morris grabbed a higher percentage of available rebounds and blocked more shots than the Davis-Loubeau combination. Markieff and Aldrich were not elite, but KU managed the loss of Marcus serviceably.
On the flip side, Texas A&M could not handle Sloan leaving the game because of foul trouble for a short stretch in the second half. With Sloan on the bench, KU took control of the game and captured a lead it would hold the rest of the way. Aggie guards B.J. Holmes and Khris Middleton were efficient in low-volume roles, combining to use just 36.3 percent of Texas A&M's possessions. KU guards Sherron Collins and Tyshawn Taylor were efficient and aggressive, creating nearly 1.5 points per possession on 48.8 percent of KU's trips.
The difference between a good team (Texas A&M) and a great team (Kansas) on Friday was the Jayhawks' advantage in the sheer talent department. Without one of its best players, KU simply plugged a reserve in and outplayed the No. 24 team in the nation. Without their lead guard, the Aggies couldn't hang with the No. 1 Jayhawks.
A look at Friday's Game Flow (from StatSheet.com):
M.O.J. (Most Outstanding Jayhawk)
No ifs, ands, or buts about it: Sherron Collins was the best player at Sprint Center on Friday. The KU senior made 50 percent of his two-point attempts, 42.9 percent of his three-point shots and 83.3 percent of his free throw tries. He delivered six assists to just one turnover and created 1.54 points per possession.
http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2010/Mar/13/collins.jpg KU guard Sherron Collins dominated Texas A&M — Nick Krug/LJW Photo
Room For Improvement
KU threw its quickest defender in Tyshawn Taylor at Texas A&M guard Donald Sloan, to no avail. At times Sloan seemed a few steps faster than the KU defense, speed that manifested itself in a 24-point, 8-for-16 performance. Some of Sloan's shots were defended well by Taylor, but giving up 24 points to a single player always stands out as a potential reason for worry.
Tough Luck Line
In his 11 foul-plagued minutes, Marcus Morris registered three "good numbers": two points and one steal. He was responsible for six "bad numbers," committing two turnovers and four fouls. A foul-free Marcus could be an important cog in KU's machine on Saturday when the Jayhawks are charged with facing the dynamic Kansas State frontcourt combo of Jamar Samuels and Curtis Kelly.
The Bottom Line:
KU played another game full of possessions good, bad and ugly. The Jayhawks turned the ball over 27.9 percent of the time but made 56 percent of their field goal attempts. They sent the Aggies to the free throw line more often than average but outpaced A&M in total free throw attempts. I guess it's just a case of 2010 KU being 2010 KU — usually a good thing for Jayhawk fans.