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Recap: Morris twins' rebounding just as valuable as their points against Iowa State
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.
Marcus Morris' 33 points in Kansas' 84-79 victory over Iowa State on Wednesday night will steal most of the headlines, but his (and his brother, Markieff's) rebounding was just as important in the Jayhawks' win.
No, Iowa State doesn't have a lot of size. But in a game that had a season-high 81 possessions, the Morris twins completely blocked the Cyclones off the boards. http://www2.kusports.com/videos/2011/jan/12/33886/
Iowa State grabbed just 17.1 percent of the available offensive rebounds against KU — its worst percentage against any team in the last two seasons.
Consider also that the Morris twins did most of that rebounding by themselves, as Thomas Robinson played just six minutes against Iowa State.
If KU gave a dangerous shooting team like ISU even three or four more second chances, the game had the potential to turn out differently.
Instead, it was the Morris twins production the defensive glass — along with their offensive contributions — that led the Jayhawks to a victory in a tough road environment.
M.O.J. (Most Outstanding Jayhawk)
It's Marcus Morris. And his statistics were in the superstar range against Iowa State.
The 6-foot-9 forward posted 1.39 points per possession used, while taking on a huge number of possessions for KU (34.7 percent possessions used). The more shots a player takes, the harder it is to keep his efficiency up, as he's taking tougher and tougher shots. You'll hardly ever see a player with an offensive rating that high while using that many of his team's possessions.
Marcus also had arguably his best rebounding game as a Jayhawk, pulling down 7.4 percent of the available offensive rebounds and 32.5 percent of the available defensive rebounds.
His 33 points and 13 rebounds were both career-highs in just 27 minutes.
Room for Improvement
I'm going to give the Jayhawks a pass on their free-throw shooting. KU only made 19 of 31 on Wednesday (61.3 percent), but it had shot above 69 percent from the line in each of its previous five games. In fact, in KU's last six games, it's still shooting 73.7 percent from the line (98 of 133).
Instead, we'll look at three-point shooting, where KU struggled for the second straight game.
The Jayhawks made just 5 of 19 threes against Iowa State (26.3 percent) after making 4 of 24 against Michigan (16.7 percent).
Before the last two games, KU's worst three-point shooting in a game this year was 31.3 percent against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.
Honestly, I think most of KU's three-pointers in the last two games have been open shots, so it's hard to criticize too much. Most likely, the Jayhawks have just hit a bit of a slump after shooting well from the perimeter early.
Then again, it might be in KU's best interest to force-feed the ball inside like it did most of the second half against Iowa State. The Jayhawks are leading the nation in two-point percentage (59 percent), and playing inside-out is less risky (though also potentially less rewarding).
The main concern for KU might not be the three-pointers it's getting, but instead the struggles of the three-point shooters it has. Brady Morningstar (26.7 percent, 1-for-3 Wednesday), Tyshawn Taylor (27.8 percent, 0-for-3 Wednesday) and even to an extent Tyrel Reed (34.2 percent, 1-for-3 Wednesday) don't have the three-point percentages that KU might have expected from them at the beginning of the year.
Thomas Robinson hasn't been the same player since missing the UMKC game.
Robinson was his usual active self in six minutes against Iowa State, but unfortunately, most of that activity was negative for KU.
The 6-foot-9 sophomore posted just 0.31 points per possession used while ending a high number of possessions (32.9 percent).
Robinson once again struggled with turnovers, tying the team-high with three in just six minutes. Though he made his only field-goal attempt and had three rebounds and a steal, it's still not enough to make up for the giveaways.
Though KU coach Bill Self hinted on Tuesday that Mario Little might not play much, the coach was forced to put him out there 19 minutes because of Robinson's struggles.
Robinson is KU's best rebounder, but until he takes better care of the ball, it's going to be difficult for Self to put him out there over some safer options in Big 12 games.
The Jayhawks might not have shot a good percentage from the free-throw line, but their ability to get there helped them top the Cyclones.
KU's free-throw rate (free throws/field goal attempts) was 48.4, which was much higher than ISU, which had a free-throw rate of 14.1 (second-lowest of the year).
On its second straight poor shooting night, KU won by limiting the Cyclones' second-chance opportunities, playing pretty good perimeter defense (ISU shot 28.1 percent from three, 10 percent below its season average) and getting the ball to Marcus Morris.
Though the Jayhawks didn't have a lot of guys that performed well Wednesday, Marcus and Markieff ended up being good enough to carry their team to the win.