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Recap: Everything in its right place for KU heading into postseason

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Kansas and Missouri played a game Saturday full of runs, scoring spurts and streaky shooting. Each team controlled the game for minutes at a time and the whole affair felt a bit jarring. In the end, however, KU ended up with a 77-56 victory atop an unsurprising box score.

• The Tigers forced turnovers. A lot of them. KU coughed up the ball on 27.9 percent of its possessions, its third-worst showing of the season. Oddly enough, Missouri was unable to use those turnovers and Mizzou Arena's energy into a frantic pace of play. The game was played at a 68-possession pace, two possessions slower than KU's per-game average and four slower than Missouri's mean.

• Missouri couldn't make anything from the field. That's a slight exaggeration. The Tigers actually made 35.4 percent of their shots. Missouri, not ordinarily the best shot-making squad (ranked seventh in the Big 12 and 102nd nationally in eFG%), was especially poor during a 16-0 KU run that closed the first half and sealed the Tigers' fate.

• The Jayhawks owned the offensive glass. Missouri entered Saturday as the Big 12's worst defensive rebounding team by percentage and didn't do anything to reverse that trend. KU grabbed an astounding 48.3 percent of possible offensive rebounds (national average is about 33 percent). Saturday marked Missouri's second-worst offensive rebounding showing. The worst came Jan. 25 in a loss against KU at Allen Fieldhouse.

• KU shot the lights out. The Jayhawks scored 1.13 points per possession, a solid total for KU that would be wonderful for most of the nation's teams. Considering its astronomical Turnover Rate, KU's scoring could only mean one thing: The Jayhawks must have made some shots. KU converted to the tune of a 57.9 eFG%, nearly three percent better than its season average. The Jayhawks were accurate from everywhere, making 53.3 percent of their two-pointers, 50 percent of their three-pointers and 73.3 percent of their free throws.

The game itself may have seemed up-and-down and scattershot, but the better team won Saturday by making shots, playing solid defense and controlling the glass.

A look (via StatSheet.com) at the ebb and flow of Saturday's game:

M.O.J. (Most Outstanding Jayhawk)

This award could have certainly gone to guard Tyshawn Taylor, who controlled the second half and posted one of his best lines of the season (13 points, five rebounds, six assists, 1.39 points per possession). Instead, forward Marcus Morris earned the honor. Morris finished with five unsightly turnovers on his final line, but he scored 10 of his 12 points during a first half in which KU wrested away control of the contest. Marcus was solid from the field (66.6 eFG%), stellar on the boards (more than 20 percent of available rebounds) and he helped provide KU a boost at a key juncture. If not for a thankfully not-as-bad-as-it-seemed fall through the media table, Morris might have posted better overall numbers.

http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2010/Mar/06/McMorris.jpg KU forward Marcus Morris posted a double-double / Nick Krug/LJW Photo

Room For Improvement

The one stat that stood out as ugly was KU's high Turnover Rate. But considering the Jayhawks still scored with ease on the road against a tough defense, their shooting and overall offensive acumen more than made up for some sloppy play. Against an underrated and motivated Missouri team playing at a tough venue in front of rabid fans, KU rose to the occasion and left little to doubt.

Tough Luck Line

Xavier Henry seemed to have trouble syncing with the rest of the KU offense on Saturday, going 2-for-6 and scoring seven points in 26 minutes. Henry was not especially active, using the lowest percentage of offensive possessions of any KU starter (15.8 percent).

The Bottom Line

If the past two games serve as any indication, KU won't be a tough out in the postseason because it won't be an out at all. No team in America can hang with KU when it plays like it did during Saturday's 16-0 run or most of Wednesday night's banner victory against Kansas State. The NCAA Tournament is all about matchups, and KU has handled two very different, very good teams in the past week.

Comments

Steve Corder 9 years, 6 months ago

The Bottom Line has it right....

If kids had to stay in school for four years, as during the Wooden glory years, Self would have such a system of perpetual excellence and dominance. As it is, he's just about there in the Big 12 (not much more he & the program can do) and if he brings home a NC this year then all I can say is 'watch out' Kentucky & UNC.

What a great ride.

Andrew Moore 9 years, 6 months ago

If kids had to stay in school, your national champion would be... Texas.

The reason is that DJ Augustine, Kevin Durant along with Damion James would all be seniors. That would be a great team, and Durant would most likely be the greatest college player to ever play. Be thankful for the 'one and done' rule!

number1jayhawker 9 years, 6 months ago

Speculation at best on your part. We would also have Darrell Arthur to go along with Cole and the Morris twins. Maybe last year with Mario and Arthur, we win back to back titles. See how this game is played? It's just anyones guess, until it actually happens.

Alec White 9 years, 6 months ago

Sorry number1jayhawker, but I doubt anybody (including most KU fans) has any reservations that Durant would've given Barnes his first NC if he stayed 4 years. He almost single-handedly beat us as a freshman! If he can average 30 points a game in the NBA (and this would be his senior year) I'm sure he could drop 35-40 a night in college. And the scary thing (other than the fact he's only 21)? Durant's just learning how to get others involved and has a young and inexperienced Thunder team on the verge of a playoff berth. I'm not trying to bag on our wonderful team this year, just that if you add a seasoned Durant to any top 25 team they would automatically become the favorite to win it all. But who knows, I bet Barnes would still find a way to blow it.

Mike Kendall 9 years, 6 months ago

afmoor06--- If kids had to stay in school, the Jayhawks would have more banners hanging in AFH---perfect example, Paul Pierce. If Paul Pierce would have stayed until his Senior year, we probably would have won it all. Then, of course, Roy wouldn't be whining that he couldn't win the big one at KU.

Another example is the '08 Championship game. If Chalmers and others before him would have stayed until they were Seniors, who knows what would have happened. It just speaks volumes on how much talent Roy and Bill Self have recruited in past years. Truly remarkable!

Chris Shaw 9 years, 6 months ago

I'm not sure I like where this thread is heading. Every BCS school in the country can point to "Early Defections" as reasons that prevented them from future Championships. What about Duke in the late 90's? What about UNC this decade? I mean, this is a pretty silly argument.

actorman 9 years, 6 months ago

I agree, kushaw. And it's not only that; everything affects everything else. There's no possible way to know what recruits would have been lost if other players had stayed. Certainly some of our best players now would have gone elswhere because they wouldn't have gotten the playing time they do now.

So it's really not just a silly argument, but something that's impossible to really know about.

Mike Kendall 9 years, 6 months ago

kushaw--- It's something college coaches have no control over---players leaving early, that is. I remember Roy Williams saying about Paul Pierce: "If Paul makes the decision to leave early, then he has to do what's best for him and his family. It's pretty selfish on my part to try and persuade him to stay another year." I think that is usually the theme each year when a "one and done" player leaves. Every player's situation is different. If the NBA goes on strike, that could throw another interesting wrinkle into the process. Good dialogue here!

Chris Shaw 9 years, 6 months ago

mikendal: I understand college coaches really don't have say. Just like UConn, Flordia, Ohio State, Michigan State, UCLA, have all experienced the same thing as KU. The only difference is that "Recently" Bill Self has done a better job at re-loading. We'll see what happens with Bill Self's squad next year? I have confidence in Bill Self, but so did the Tar Heels in Roy Williams this year.

Kye Clark 9 years, 6 months ago

kushaw - I think the difference between the Tar Heels & Bruins this year (and the Florida team from a few years ago) and KU next year is that we will have established players returning. If ever there was going to be a significant drop-off it would have been last year, after losing all 5 starters and 1 key bench player. Next year in all likelihood we will lose X and Cole along with Sherron. However, we will return Tyshawn, the Twins, Brady, and Tyrel, all of whom have played significant minutes this year. TRob has shown glimpses of the player he can be, and his expected progression along with that of Elijah & Withey will be nice additions. Factor in that we will have two players coming off of redshirts in Releford & Little that will be entering their 3rd years under Bill Self's system and that's 10 returning players. I'm not expecting much of a contribution from Royce Woolridge (I suspect he will probably redshirt), but we may also land another blue chip guard from the trio of Knight, Lamb, & Selby who could impact the team as a freshman. Basically, the cupboard is anything but empty next year. Not saying replacing the two leaders of this team - two first team all-big 12 players, the conference defensive player of the year, and the winningest player in the history of the program - will be easy. Nor am I saying that we will be quite the force competing for a national championship, but I can't foresee any way we fall to NIT level like the aforementioned programs.

ChicagoJHawk 9 years, 6 months ago

I agree icthawkfan316, we'll be solid next year. We'll have a good amount of juniors and seniors, which goes a long way in the tournament.

As for the other argument, about how good this team or that team will be without the one and done rule - there's just too many variables in the equation. It really is a bit of a silly argument, there's no way to say who would or would not have won a championship, although if I had to pick a team I do like KU's chances.

So anyway, I have a really good feeling about this team. Saturday's performance was excellent, and so was the K-State game based on the stats (unfortunately didn't get to see it!). Rock Chalk Jayhawk GO KU...National Champs 2010!!!!

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