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Recap: KU's second-half defense made comeback nearly impossible against Davidson

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Note: Here is a listing of definitions for some terms used in this blog. Also, feel free to ask questions in the comments section below if something doesn't make sense.

For one half in Monday's 80-74 loss to Davidson, Kansas was on pace for its best defensive turnover percentage game since the opener against Towson.

The Wildcats turned it over 12 times before halftime, with the Jayhawks picking up nine steals — which was already the third-most in any game for KU this season.

Kansas guard Travis Releford scrambles for a loose ball in the first half against Davidson on Monday, Dec. 19, 2011 at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.

Kansas guard Travis Releford scrambles for a loose ball in the first half against Davidson on Monday, Dec. 19, 2011 at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo. by Kevin Anderson

The biggest reason for Davidson's win was a total reversal of this statistic in the second half.

The Wildcats, somehow, managed to play the entire second half without turning it over once — any extremely rare feat.

Here's the breakdown by half:

First half — 39 possessions, 12 turnovers, 30.8 percent turnover percentage.
Second half — 35 possessions, 0 turnovers, 0 percent turnover percentage.

KU did seem like it was in chase mode defensively after halftime against Davidson's motion offense, but it's still hard to believe the Jayhawks were unable to force one turnover in 35 possessions.

How does no turning the ball over once affect a team's offense? Here's a look at Davidson's by half numbers:

First half — 33 points, 39 possessions= 0.85 points per possession
Second half — 47 points, 35 possessions= 1.34* points per possession

* — To put 1.34 PPP in perspective, the NCAA leader last year in PPP was Ohio State at 1.20 PPP.

Interestingly, Davidson didn't shoot it particularly well from the floor in the second half. The Wildcats made 12 of 31 field goals (39 percent) and 5 of 17 threes (29 percent).

The thing is, you don't have to shoot it particularly well if you don't turn the ball over once (though it helps to be a great free throw shooting team and make 18 of 21 free throws).

KU's offense had virtually no chance at catching up in the second half because of Davidson's offensive efficiency.

After being disruptive defensively in the first half, the Jayhawks did nothing to bother the Wildcats' offense after halftime.

M.O.J. (Most Outstanding Jayhawk)

A poor outside shooting night from KU might have hidden the fact that Elijah Johnson had a nice night offensively.

Kansas guard Elijah Johnson dunks on Davidson in the first half Monday, Dec. 19, 2011 at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.

Kansas guard Elijah Johnson dunks on Davidson in the first half Monday, Dec. 19, 2011 at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo. by Kevin Anderson

The junior guard posted 1.31 points per possession used while ending 17.4 percent of KU's possessions while he was in.

Johnson made 3 of 10 three-pointers, but also knocked in all three of his two-pointers with six assists and just one turnover in 34 minutes. His effective field goal percentage of 57.6 percent was his third-best mark of the season and also KU's third-best Monday night.

On a tough night offensively for KU, Johnson was the only KU starter who was able to remain efficient with a decent usage percentage and a high number of minutes.

Room for Improvement

As mentioned above, it wasn't KU's turnovers on offense, but instead, the lack of turnovers the Jayhawks created defensively.

Kansas head coach Bill Self talks with the team during a timeout in the second half Monday, Dec. 19, 2011 at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.

Kansas head coach Bill Self talks with the team during a timeout in the second half Monday, Dec. 19, 2011 at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo. by Kevin Anderson

Davidson ended up turning it over on just 16.2 percent of its possessions, which was the second-lowest mark against KU this season.

KU also had its worst shooting game from the free throw line. The Jayhawks made just 18 of 31 shots there for 58 percent; their worst free throw shooting game before Monday was a 64-percent outing against Georgetown.

Tough-Luck Line

Kudos to Tyshawn Taylor for playing 33 minutes just eight days after knee surgery, but if we're just looking at stats, he gets this game's "Tough-Luck Line."

Kansas center Jeff Withey helps up teammate Tyshawn Taylor after Taylor was fouled in second half against Davidson on Monday, Dec. 19, 2011 at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.

Kansas center Jeff Withey helps up teammate Tyshawn Taylor after Taylor was fouled in second half against Davidson on Monday, Dec. 19, 2011 at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo. by Kevin Anderson

The senior guard posted just 0.88 points per possession used while ending a whopping 31.1 percent of KU's possessions while he was in.

Though Taylor notched 42.1 percent of KU's available assists while he was in, he also spent 26.3 percent of his used possessions on turnovers. He also made just 4 of 11 shots and was 1-for-5 from the three-point line.

Taylor has been in quite the offensive funk as of late, as can be seen in the graph at the link below.

After notching better than 1.26 points per possession used in his first three games against Towson, Kentucky and Georgetown, Taylor has been under 0.93 points per possession used in four of his last six games*.

* — KU's team PPP this year is 1.08 to give you a baseline.

Bottom Line

KU had little chance to come back in the second half because of an inability to force turnovers.

Still, part of the reason the Jayhawks were in the hole to begin with was because of a horrible shooting night.

Thomas Robinson pulls up for a jumper against Davidson in the second half Monday, Dec. 19, 2011 at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.

Thomas Robinson pulls up for a jumper against Davidson in the second half Monday, Dec. 19, 2011 at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo. by Kevin Anderson

KU's effective field goal percentage of 45.2 percent was its third-lowest this year. I bet you can guess the other two games that were lower: Kentucky (37.3 percent, loss) and Duke (44.9 percent, loss).

It's going to be very difficult to win any game shooting like that. Last year, KU went 2-2 in games where it shot worse than a 45.2 eFG%. One of the wins (at Michigan) was in overtime, while the other (vs. Oklahoma State in Sprint Center) was by a single point.

KU finished at 1.0 PPP, its worst mark since the Duke loss.

Meanwhile, Davidson's 1.08 PPP were the most against the Jayhawks this season.

Credit that number to Davidson's incredible turnover turnaround in the second half.

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