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Recap: Jayhawks bad all around, but does the loss hurt KU that much?
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.
Pretty much this whole blog will talk about how poorly Kansas played in its 84-68 loss to Kansas State on Monday night.
Before we get to all that, though, let's put the defeat in perspective.
Or, another way of looking at it: What did the Jayhawks lose by getting beat on Monday?
http://www2.kusports.com/photos/galle... Here's the list I can come up with:
1. A shot at the Big 12 regular-season championship. At two games back with just six to go, KU's streak of six consecutive conference championships most likely will come to an end this season.
Reality is, though, that Texas might run the table anyway. The Longhorns' toughest games left are at Nebraska and at Baylor, two games I'd expect them to win.
Even if KU had gone 15-1, that doesn't beat 16-0. The Jayhawks might have lost a chance at the conference title on Monday, but they might not have as well.
2. A chance to be No. 1 again in the regular season
KU will most likely drop to No. 4 or 5 after the loss, but what difference does the No. 1 ranking make? KU still is one of only six teams in the nation with two losses or fewer and has a great shot at still securing a No. 1 seed.
3. A rivalry game
Yep, that tends to sting fans a bit more, but the KSU victory only split the season series.
If the two teams play again in Kansas City, I'd think the Jayhawks would be around a 10-point favorite.
I know that, especially on our site, the sky seems to be falling after every KU loss. But really, the Jayhawks' loss doesn't appear to have harmed them a whole lot when you look at the big-picture goals.
Another way to look at it: After losing by 16 to Kansas State, KU dropped from second in the KenPom ratings all the way to ... third.
A season's-worth of good play shouldn't be forgotten because of one lousy effort.
M.O.J. (Most Outstanding Jayhawk)
If the scouting report was to attack the Kansas State defense and force fouls (the Wildcats foul a lot), then maybe Tyrel Reed was the only one who read it.
Reed not only was the best Jayhawk offensively, he also was the smartest one as well.
The senior guard attacked KSU's overplaying defense, getting to the free-throw line a career-high nine times.
That aggressiveness led to a great night statistically, as Reed posted 1.43 points per possession used while ending 18.7 percent of KU's possessions — well above his personal average (15.1 percent).
Reed was KU's best passer, assisting on 28.4 percent of KU's field goals while he was in. He also came away with steals on 5.6 percent of KU's defensive possessions.
There weren't many positives for KU on Monday night, but Reed's composed play during adversity certainly had to be one of them.
Room for Improvement
Frankly, almost everything needs improvement for KU after that loss.
Here are three areas in particular:
• Turnovers. KU turned it over on 26.1 percent of its possessions — its third-highest mark of the season.
Perhaps more frightening for KU is that of its 18 turnovers, only six were listed as steals for KSU. That would indicate that 12 of the Jayhawks' giveaways were unforced.
• Defensive fouls. After posting just seven fouls against Iowa State on Saturday, KU reverted back to its old ways by not only hacking a ton, but hacking the wrong people.
Kansas State's free-throw rate (free throws attempted times 100/field goals attempted) was 58.0 — the second-highest against KU this year.
What made it worse is that, as has been the case most this year, the Jayhawks fouled mostly guards. Of KSU's 29 free throws, 25 were attempted by guards. KU was probably lucky that the Wildcats only shot 83 percent from the line.
In Big 12 play, KU's opponents have made a league-best 80.3 percent of their free throws. That trend will continue if KU continues to put opposing teams' guards on the free-throw line.
Defensive rebounding. KU grabbed just 54.5 percent of the available defensive rebounds, which was its worst mark of the year.
Sure, the Jayhawks missed rebounding specialist Thomas Robinson, but they also didn't get production from Markieff Morris, who came into the game leading the Big 12 in rebounds.
In 20 minutes, Markieff had no rebounds. That's pretty remarkable.
KU's leading rebounder was surprisingly Mario Little (five), and no other player had more than three.
That kind of effort on the boards indicates that KSU was the more aggressive and physical team on Monday night.
One game after battling for the M.O.J. honor, Markieff Morris and Tyshawn Taylor are the ones in the running for the Tough-Luck Line.
In the end, Taylor is the pick here.
The junior guard posted just 0.65 points per possession while turning into a vacuum for possessions — using up a whopping 28.9 percent of them while he was on the court. KU scored at least one point on just 32.4 percent of the possessions he ended.
Obviously, his biggest issue offensively was turnovers, as he posted six in his first 18 minutes out there. To compare, he'd only had six combined turnovers in his previous four games.
Unfortunately for Taylor, as bad as he was offensively, that was probably his better end of the floor.
Taylor's main defensive assignment — Kansas State's Jacob Pullen —had a career day with 38 points, and his advanced numbers were in superstar range. Pullen posted 1.51 points per possession used (a huge number) while still ending 36 percent of KSU's possessions (an even crazier number).
At many other positions, KU has capable backups for when the starters aren't playing well.
KU's thinnest position is point guard, so the Jayhawks need Taylor to put this game behind him.
Like him or not — frustrated with his performance or not — he's a guy that has to remain in the lineup and has to play well for the Jayhawks to be their best. There just aren't many other options available.
Needless to say, KU's string of six straight games offensively with at least 1.2 points per possession is over.
The Jayhawks notched just 0.99 PPP against Kansas State — their fourth-worst mark of the year.
The bad news for KU is that its defense was worse. KSU put up 1.22 PPP — KU's worst defensive performance since the Dec. 23, 2008 game at Arizona (1.29 PPP).
It's not easy to single out a single area where KU lost the game. KSU shot much better, rebounded much better and played much better than the Jayhawks on Monday.
Taking all that into account, it's still just one loss for KU and likely won't have too much of a long-term impact, especially considering Texas has a good chance of going 16-0 in the conference this year.
Even after the loss, I would expect KU over the rest of the season to get healthier, grab a No. 1 seed and still be one of the favorites to win the national championship.
One loss isn't a reason to give up on one of KU coach Bill Self's best teams at KU.