Recap: Title game a foul affair for 'Cats
This blog spent more than a few words yesterday talking about how Kansas' depth and supreme talent level made it OK for forward Marcus Morris to sit out with foul trouble. That may have been true, but having the big guy around on Saturday didn't hurt KU.
Marcus Morris scored 18 points on 13 field goal attempts and helped the Jayhawks compete on the boards against a Kansas State team known for its rebounding. Marcus, Markieff Morris and Cole Aldrich each grabbed more than 10 percent of the total available rebounds during their playing time. Kansas State forwards Luis Colon and Curtis Kelly also recorded plenty of rebounds, but the Kansas bigs neutralized what could have been an advantage for the Wildcats.
A couple of quick statistical hits:
• Saturday's game supplied a classic example of the "eye test" not telling the whole truth. The contest was full of 4-0 or 5-0 runs and looked sloppy and plodding. In truth, the offenses weren't terrible. KU scored 1.13 points per possession, slightly worse than its season average. Kansas State generated an even one point per possession: Worse than its mean but near the national average and better than that of most KU opponents. The game was painful to watch not because of a lack of offense, but because of a lack of pace. The teams played at a 64-possession pace, Kansas State's second-slowest and KU's fifth-slowest of the season.
Saturday's GameFlow (in Super Slo-Mo) from StatSheet.com:
• One of the differences in Saturday's game was the teams' Free Throw Rates. The Jayhawks shot nearly six free throws for every 10 field goal attempts while the Wildcats earned just two free throw tries per 10 field goal attempts. This result half-met expectations, as Kansas State entered Saturday shooting the most free throws and giving up the most free throws in the Big 12 Conference. On top of the free throw attempt disparity, KU converted 77.4 percent of its attempts while Kansas State made just 57.1 percent of its tries.
M.O.J. (Most Outstanding Jayhawk)
This one was tough.
Marcus Morris was solid on the boards, ultra-active on offense and fairly efficient. Reserve guard Tyrel Reed somehow scored 15 points on four field goal attempts in just 20 minutes. Talk about efficiency.
Better than Morris and Reed was point guard Sherron Collins. The senior added to his already-impressive highlight reel with several beautiful floaters, assisted 41.9 percent of his teammates' field goals when he was on the floor and generated 1.32 points per possession.
Room For Improvement
KU did a lot of great things on Saturday. It took away Kansas State's assumed advantage on the boards, somehow avoided committing fouls and forced the Wildcats into a 40.6 eFG%. What KU didn't do is force turnovers. Kansas State committed a turnover on just 7.8 percent of its possessions, the second-lowest by any KU opponent this season. There's not much room to criticize a defensive performance that turned the nation's 16th-best offense into an average unit, but something has to go in this space, right?
Tough Luck Line
KU guards Xavier Henry and Tyshawn Taylor played passively, using less than 20 percent of KU's offensive possessions combined. Each showed his value on the defensive end, but Henry earned this yoke thanks to his 1-for-7 shooting line.
The Bottom Line:
Successful or not in the upcoming NCAA tournament, this Kansas team only has a few games remaining. Enjoy the next few weeks. This team shares the ball, scores with ease, plays tenacious defense and switches tempo effortlessly from possession to possession. Oh yeah, and they do a little winning, too.