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