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Recap: March Madness strikes Kansas in round of 32

Games like this are why we love basketball, why March is mad and why our country freezes for three weeks to take note.

Eight out of 10 times, Kansas defeats Northern Iowa. The Jayhawks were faster, more talented and more athletic. KU's basketball budget topped Northern Iowa's by sixfold. But KU couldn't handle Northern Iowa's shooting touch or pace-setting defense, giving the nation another reason to watch basketball and KU fans a reason to turn the TV off for a couple weeks.

On paper, the matchup was an odd one. Northern Iowa entered the tournament clearly and egregiously under-seeded. How the NCAA Selection Committee decided on a No. 9 seed for a 28-4 team that won 15 of 18 in a good Missouri Valley Conference, no one had any idea. The Panthers stayed in or around's top 25 all season before settling at No. 32 before the KU game. One advantage the Jayhawks had was superior athleticism, something that became obvious when KU set up its full-court press and took over the game.

  • Despite the emphasis on Northern Iowa's three-point shooting, the Panthers actually converted at a lower-than-normal rate on Saturday. Northern Iowa made 34.6 percent of its three-point attempts, compared to a season average of 35.6 percent. KU struggled in a much bigger way from deep, making 26.1 percent after converting 40.4 percent of threes during the season.

• To listen to CBS tell it, you'd think Northern Iowa's posts pushed around KU center Cole Aldrich and forwards Marcus and Markieff Morris. That didn't happen. The Jayhawks made 58 percent of their two-point attempts while the Panthers converted just 44.8 percent. KU dominated the glass, holding Northern Iowa to 31.4 percent of available offensive rebounds and just 57.6 percent of possible defensive rebounds. That meant KU grabbed a remarkable 42.4 percent of its own misses, four percent better than the Jayhawks' stellar season mark. Aldrich in particular put up strong rebounding numbers. The junior capped his season by pulling down better than 21 percent of overall missed shots while he was in the game.

• There won't be any second-guessing of KU coach Bill Self here, but KU would have benefited from using its killer press a few minutes earlier. Problem was, the Jayhawks' most important offensive player, Sherron Collins, couldn't press for more than a few minutes without yielding some effectiveness on offense because of the state of his conditioning. Watching the way Collins struggled to keep up with the Panthers during inbound situations, KU may have been better served replacing him with a quicker defender in the press and subbing him in on offense. Northern Iowa guard Ali Farokhmanesh provided the Panthers an offensive boost — Nick Krug/LJW Photo

M.O.J. (Most Outstanding Jayhawk)

Marcus Morris once again provided a fantastic mixture of usage and efficiency. He used 25.3 percent of KU's possessions and created 1.16 points per possession. He shot the ball well enough (5-for-8) to compensate for committing three turnovers. At times during KU's frenetic comeback, he seemed the team's only viable offensive option. It should be exciting to watch Marcus Morris' ascent to the position of Big 12 Conference Player of the Year. At this point, it's a when, not an if. Marcus Morris ended up unhappy, but played a solid game on Saturday — Nick Krug/LJW Photo

Room For Improvement

The pace looked frantic in the second half, but it wasn't frantic enough. KU failed to take Northern Iowa out of its standard pace of play. The Panthers limited the contest to a 62-possession affair, which put the game in their hands considering they averaged 59 trips per game to KU's standard of 70. In a more normal 68-to-70 possession game, KU would have almost certainly made up the deficit and at least taken a lead at some point in the second half. Falling behind a team like Northern Iowa is a risky proposition because you don't have much chance to claw back.

Hard Luck Line

Sherron Collins' career shouldn't have ended like it did Saturday. The Jayhawks' floor leader went 4-for-15 with five turnovers while counterpart Ali Farokhmanesh went dropped 16 points and the game's dagger three-pointer. Collins tried to put KU on his shoulders, using more possessions than any other Jayhawk. But without his shooting touch, the Chicago native mustered just 0.76 points per possession, lower than any KU player aside from Brady Morningstar (0-for-1 in eight minutes).

The Bottom Line:

It happens. Underrated nine-seeds knock off slumbering giants. One guy (Farokhmanesh) has a lights-out afternoon while another (Collins) has an ill-timed off day. This may not be the sort of Madness KU fans wanted this March, but there's no denying this sort of game is what makes the month so special.

Thanks for spending some of your (or your company's) time reading, agreeing/disagreeing with and discussing Going Into Overtime this season. I very much appreciate it.


Recap: 16-over-1? Not on Morris’ watch

For a good portion of one half, Kansas fans had an ounce of reason to worry that perhaps the Patriot League, the NCAA Tournament, KU and Oklahoma City just don't mix. Once KU grabbed the lead, however, Lehigh did not have defense enough to keep the game within striking distance.

The KU offense decimated the Lehigh defense, converting shots at a 61.6 eFG% mark, grabbing 41.2 percent of the available offensive rebounds and tallying 1.25 points per possession. Thursday night's scoring showing was the Jayhawks' 10th most productive of the season and their best since an explosive March 3 performance that saw KU score 1.30 points per trip. Guards Sherron Collins, Tyrel Reed and Tyshawn Taylor played efficiently in moderate-usage roles and Marcus Morris delivered a career performance. The sophomore forward generated 1.23 points per possession while using a remarkable 34.1 percent of KU's possessions during his minutes. After a slow first half, Xavier Henry ended up with 11 points on 5-for-7 shooting and six rebounds.

The reason KU couldn't run away from Lehigh was its middling defensive performance. The Mountain Hawks managed 1.02 points per possession, just better than the national average and much better than KU's opponents' average. Freshman guard C.J. McCollum led Lehigh, emerging from a first-half slumber to finish with 29 points. He used 39 percent of his team's possessions and didn't create a point per possession, but he certainly put his volume scoring skills on display. Big man Zahir Carrington was the only other Mountain Hawk to play at least three minutes and use more than 20 percent of the squad's possessions. He finished with 17 points on the strength of a big first half and 7-for-15 shooting overall.

KU's victory against Lehigh, told in graphical form (via

M.O.J. (Most Outstanding Jayhawk)

Marcus Morris did all the good things he has done at times throughout his sophomore year, and he did them all at the same time during a 26-minute, 26-point, 10-rebound explosion. The most promising statistic was Morris' 12-for-15 field goal shooting. With Aldrich serving as KU's defensive enforcer and best defensive rebounder and Morris providing unbridled offense, it seems no team in America can match Kansas down low.

The game seemed easy Thursday night for KU forward Marcus Morris — Nick Krug/LJW Photo

Room For Improvement

KU's defense would have been acceptable against a Big 12 Conference opponent, but Lehigh just isn't supposed to score 74 points on 72 possessions against the Jayhawks. The Mountain Hawks did not do any one thing particularly well, but they avoided the common pitfalls of an overmatched low-major: They kept their turnovers to an average total (18.1 percent of possessions), shot the ball with mediocre accuracy (46.0 eFG%), found the free throw line with decent frequency (33.9 percent Free Throw Rate). Lehigh even remained in the neighborhood of average on the offensive glass, rounding up 32.5 percent of their misses.

Hard Luck Line

Stats-wise, guard Brady Morningstar didn't do much of anything. The Lawrence native made one of five shots and distributed two assists in 17 minutes. Typical Morningstar usage rates combined with atypical inefficiency doesn't usually hurt KU, but his shooting touch would serve KU well for the rest of the tourney.

Bottom Line

KU put a scare (or more of a frustration, perhaps) into followers during a sub-par first half but avoided the dreaded 16-over-1 upset by a +0.23 points-per-possession margin. For reference's sake, that's about 0.05 points per possession better than KU's average margin of victory during Big 12 play.


The Field of 65: An easy draw for Duke

As you've probably ascertained by now, the South Region has earned general consensus as the weakest section of the 2010 bracket. On the strength of a 12-1 end to its season, Duke is a solid No. 1 seed. After the Blue Devils, each of the next few teams has a potentially fatal flaw.

• No. 2 seed Villanova can score with the best squads but doesn't play much defense. The Wildcats enter the tournament ranked 63rd nationally in's Adjusted Defensive Efficiency (AdjD).

• No. 3 seed Baylor is in the same boat as Villanova. The Bears score at the fourth-best adjusted rate in the nation but rank 48th defensively. Baylor's offense was efficient enough to push the team into second place in the Big 12 in conference points-per-possession margin, so the Bears are certainly capable of advancing past Villanova or even Duke.

• No. 4 Purdue seemed unstoppable until star forward Robbie Hummel suffered a season-ending injury in late February. Without Hummel the Boilermakers went 3-2 with victories against also-rans Indiana, Penn State and Northwestern and an embarrassing 69-42 loss against Minnesota. To its credit, Purdue did defeat Michigan State without Hummel.

Without any stellar competition among the top four seeds, Duke appears the easy pick to sweep through the South Region, and the computers agree. Basketball Prospectus broke down each team's probability of advancing to the Final Four and taking the championship. Of the 65 teams, Duke was the most likely champion, with a 24.3 percent chance of returning to Carolina with the title. Kansas was a close second at 23.3 percent, despite its more difficult draw.

By now, you have most likely filled in your bracket and decided on your upset picks, so we'll keep it brief and stick to the players, mascots and team to watch in the South Region:

The Region's Best...


The South is the official region of the senior point guard. Vilanova's Scottie Reynolds, Duke's Jon Scheyer, California's Jerome Randle and Baylor's Tweety Carter will all finish accomplished college careers in the next three weeks.

Reynolds and Scheyer get the most attention of the four, whether it be positive or negative. Perhaps due to location, Randle and Carter have remained out of the national spotlight, for the most part. But their stats prove they belong with the big names:

• Efficiency:

Reynolds — 56.8 eFG%, 26.3% possessions used, 1.21 points per possession.

Scheyer — 50.3 eFG%, 23.4% possessions used, 1.28 points per possession.

Randle — 55.5 eFG%, 26.9% possessions used, 1.13 points per possession.

Carter — 54.2 eFG%, 22.7% possessions used, 1.20 points per possession.

• Ballhandling/passing:

Reynolds — 22.0% Assist Rate, 18.4% Turnover Rate, 1.3 A/TO Ratio

Scheyer — 26.5% Assist Rate, 11.7% Turnover Rate, 2.9 A/TO Ratio

Randle — 24.6% Assist Rate, 22.2% Turnover Rate, 1.3 A/TO Ratio

Carter — 31.4% Assist Rate, 19.3% Turnover Rate, 2.3 A/TO Ratio

• Defense/rebounding:

Reynolds — 2.8% Steal Rate, 9.5% Rebound Rate

Scheyer — 2.6% Steal Rate, 10.8% Rebound Rate

Randle — 1.2% Steal Rate, 6.6% Rebound Rate

Carter — 2.1% Steal Rate, 7.9% Rebound Rate

Take what you want from those numbers. What the stats do point out are the stylistic differences between the four guards. Carter and Scheyer are distributors before scorers, Randle is a high-usage scorer and Reynolds is the most balanced of the group. Because of his balanced skill set, Scottie Reynolds earns the Player of the Region title.


The South Region has it all. Saints (Siena), Blue Devils (Duke) and two varieties of Aggie (Utah State and Texas A&M) and Bear (California and Baylor).

The Richmond Spiders and Old Dominion Monarchs were automatically disqualified for adopting nicknames too scary and not scary, respectively. Notre Dame might have earned consideration had it played on St. Patrick's Day, but we're now 364 days from next year's holiday, so that's kind of a bummer. The Sam Houston State Bearkats take this region's crown for their ingenuity, odd spelling and all-around whimsy.


Sam Houston State may have the best name in the South corner of the bracket, but Duke is the best team. Scheyer, Nolan Smith and Kyle Singler comprise an excellent backcourt, center Brian Zoubek is an elite rebounder and backup posts Mason and Miles Plumlee provide athleticism and depth.


The Field of 65: Cousins rules the East, but West Virginia should be favored

If you're reading this, you've somehow mis-steered your Interwebs into the third of four preliminary Field of 65 blogs. But don't turn back! Information lies ahead:

For all the uproar about Kansas' difficult route to the Final Four, Kentucky has it just as bad. The East Region of the 2010 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament is packed with solid defensive squads and includes two teams seeded 11-or-worse that could make serious noise in the tournament.

Most Compelling Matchup

If only because Kansas fans have seen Temple at its worst and Cornell at its best, the East's 5-12 matchup is the most interesting of the first-round tilts. With the exception of an embarrassing 32-point home loss to KU in January, Temple has posted solid results to go along with a 29-5 (14-2 Atlantic 10) record this season. The Owls are decent offensively and ridiculously sturdy on defense, allowing an adjusted 0.86 points per possession, third nationally. Temple slows the pace of play to a crawl, maximizing the importance of possessions and further dooming opposing offenses. Kansas was Temple's only opponent to break 80 points in a game this season and the Owls held six teams to less than 45 points.

Cornell earned national attention for crushing the Ivy League (13-1) and hanging with KU at Allen Fieldhouse before losing, 71-66. The Big Red is a team full of gunners: Their 43.8 percent three-point mark is the nation's best. On the flip side, they rarely attack the hoop, attempting just 2.9 free throws for every field goal attempt (328th nationally). Cornell is pedestrian defensively, so reading too much into their dominance of a poor conference and one game at KU might break a few brackets this year.

Upset Watch

Wofford is not a strong 13-seed and nobody would consider No. 9-seed Wake Forest over the No. 8-seed shell of a Texas team much of an upset. That leaves 11th-seeded Washington as the most likely upsettor. Marquette slogged through a strong Big East conference, losing enough close games to go 22-11 and still remain No. 28 in's rankings. Marquette is a very good offensive team led by uber-high usage forward Lazar Hayward, who uses 29.4 percent of the team's possessions. Guard Jimmy Butler is one of the nation's most efficient offensive players on a per-possession basis.

Washington, an auto-bid NCAA entry from the much-maligned Pac 10, has picked up its play substantially in the past several weeks, winning seven straight games against a manageable (Read: Pac 10) schedule. The Huskies played the nation's 55th-hardest schedule and went 3-1 in games against KenPom's Top 25. Wing Quincy Pondexter could be the Pac 10's top all-around player after generating Evan Turner Lite stats this season.

The Region's Best


This Kentucky freshman did it all this season. He generated 1.14 points per possession while using 31.9 percent of the Wildcats' trips. He cleaned up on the glass, ranking second in the nation in Offensive Rebound Rate. His Turnover Rate was among the nation's 350 best. He blocked 7.8 percent of opponents' shots and drew nearly nine fouls per 40 minutes. DeMarcus Cousins is Kentucky's best player, the SEC's best player, one of the two best centers in the nation and the best player in the East Region.


This one was a nailbiter between two exceptionally strong candidates:

• The Wake Forest Demon Deacons, who earn points for having a nickname that is alliterative and blasphemous.


• The East Tennessee State Buccaneers, who earn credit for forgetting that Tennessee is, in fact, landlocked, and most likely safe from pirates.

Wake takes the cake.


Kentucky may be the No. 1 seed, but a lack of postseason experience and a general iffy feeling surrounding Calipari's bunch make West Virginia the easy pick to emerge from the East. The Mountaineers are weak at point guard but strong everywhere else. West Virginia is balanced and actually better on offense than on defense, defying preconceptions of a Bob Huggins-coached squad. With the strength of this year's No. 1 seeds, West Virginia could be the only team seeded 2nd or lower to crack the Final Four.


The Field of 65: Wildcats, Cougars and Orange, Oh My!

Welcome to the second of four preliminary Field of 65 blogs. This is not meant to be a predictor, but a primer. Trust me, you don't want to take prediction advice from me.

What do you want to see from Going Into Overtime this postseason? Do these previews have any glaring omissions? Let your e-voice be heard in the comments section below.

Today, the West Region:

The West Region of the 2010 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament does not match the overall talent level of the Midwest, the parity between top seeds of the South or the strong low seeds of the East. But it does include the nation's best mid-major in Butler, a hip upset pick in Murray State over Vanderbilt, and a potentially epic matchup between Kansas State and BYU.

Most Compelling Matchup

Vanderbilt-Murray State has 13-over-4 upset written all over it, but the 5-against-12 Butler-UTEP matchup is more intriguing. Butler has solidified its standing as the best mid-major in the country and found a place in's top 30 by winning 20 straight games and posting a 28-4 overall record this season.

Versatile forward Gordon Hayward would have posted some of the nation's best offensive statistics had his three-point percentage not fallen from 44.8 percent in 2009 to 29.5 percent in 2010. On the plus side, the 6-foot-9 sophomore improved in almost every other measurable category from his freshman year. Forward Matt Howard is not the All-American some thought him to be at the beginning of the season, but he leads a host of solid role players for the Bulldogs. Butler's problem lies in the fact that it has only faced one good team since late December. In fairness, the Bulldogs defeated a solid Siena squad in that Feb. 20 Bracket Busters tilt, but a conference slate headlined by Wright State (KenPom No. 71) is cause for concern. Butler went 2-3 this season against teams ranked better than UTEP's No. 34 KenPom mark, but all of those games came in the first month-plus of the campaign. Butler forward Gordon Hayward splits the Siena defense — AP Photo

Despite a Conference USA Tournament slip-up against Houston, UTEP is no slouch. The Miners went on a 16-game conference winning streak of their own, in the process defeating Memphis (No. 51), Marshall (No. 68), UAB twice (No. 67) and Tulsa thrice (No. 79). Look out for diminutive guard Randy Culpepper, who has converted 58.9 percent of his two-point attempts despite his 165-pound frame. The Miners play fast and the Bulldogs play slow so this one could look interesting on the court and the scoreboard.

Most Compelling POTENTIAL Matchup

No. 2-seed Kansas State against No. 7-seed BYU, second round.

BYU outscored its conference competition at a better per-possession rate than any other team in the nation's top 11 conferences (more info on that at Basketball Prospectus). The Cougars dominated the Mountain West Conference thoroughly enough to stay in KenPom's Top 10 for most of the season and end up at No. 7. KU fans know a lot about Kansas State, an exceptionally tough team stocked with great rebounders and a veteran backcourt. At face value, the Big 12 runner-up would seem an easy favorite against the Mountain West runner-up. But keep in mind, BYU has been a statistical juggernaut in a conference that sends four teams to the 2010 NCAA Tournament.

Upset Watch

Thirteenth-seeded Murray State played a weak schedule but finished 30-4 and lost only one game by more than six points. The Racers went 17-1 in Ohio Valley Conference play and toppled a solid Morehead State squad in the conference championship. Of the eight Racers to play at least 35 percent of the team's minutes, none created less than 1 point per possession this season. Murray State is balanced (five players use between 20 and 23 percent of team possessions), accurate from inside the arc (55.3 percent on two-point attempts) and tenacious on defense (nation's 6th best Steal Rate).

Fourth-seeded Vanderbilt is overrated. The Commodores rank 37th in KenPom's standings, bogged down by losing two of their past three games. Aside from its two losses against Kentucky, Vanderbilt has lost only to teams ranked 41st or worse by KenPom. Posts A.J. Ogilvy and Jeffery Taylor are solid, but the Commodores do not force turnovers or play defense at elite levels.

The Region's Best...


The West Region boasts an especially strong complement of guards and small forwards, the best of which is Syracuse's Wesley Johnson. Johnson fits nicely as a cog in a fairly balanced Orange offense, but he's a sure bet for several standout plays per game. The wing is a delight to watch: A very good three-point shooter with athleticism and dunking ability to spare. Butler's Hayward, Kansas State point guard Jacob Pullen and BYU point guard Jimmer Fredette also deserve mention. Wesley Johnson showing why he's the region's best player — AP Photo


Syracuse Orange — Color? Fruit? Ambiguity abounds.

Vanderbilt Commodores — Just take a look at this list of neat stuff to which the word 'Commodore' refers.

Minnesota Golden Gophers/Oakland Golden Grizzlies - Odd that these two groups of alliterative critters would end up in the same region.

North Texas Mean Green — This wins because a) meanness b) rhymability.


The Selection Committee got this one correct: Top-seeded Syracuse is the best team in the region. If center Arinze Onuaku is indeed missing due to injury this weekend, forward Rick Jackson should pick up the slack while Johnson and Andy Rautins handle the perimeter. Don't count out either Kansas State or BYU, depending on which emerges from the bottom of the bracket.


The Field of 65: The rough-and-tumble Midwest

Welcome to the first of four preliminary entries in The Field of 65. This is not meant to be a predictor, but a primer. Trust me, you don't want to take prediction advice from me. Today, the Midwest Region:

Kansas University's region is not only the toughest of the four, but the most intriguing.

The Midwest region includes:

• The nation's best team (Kansas)

• The two teams that have defeated the nation's best team (Oklahoma State, Tennessee)

• The nation's second-best mid-major (Northern Iowa)

• Two members of the wildly underrated Mountain West Conference (UNLV, San Diego State)

• The nation's best player (Ohio State guard Evan Turner)

• Four of's top 11 teams (Kansas, Ohio State, Maryland, Georgetown)

• Three teams with the best record, ties included, in three of KenPom's top four conferences (Kansas, Ohio State, Maryland)

Most Compelling Matchup

The 8/9 tilt between UNLV and Northern Iowa promises to be competitive, if not pretty. Each of these teams is outstanding on the defensive end. The Runnin' Rebels enter the tournament ranked 29th in KenPom's Adjusted Defensive Efficiency (AdjD) while the Panthers come in at 13th.

UNLV's seed and points-per-game margin are both better than those of Northern Iowa. But the Panthers dominated a decent Missouri Valley Conference in 2010, going 15-3 thanks to their impressive defense and grind-it-out pace (342nd fastest in the nation, out of 347 and slowest in the NCAA field of 65). Big men Jordan Eglseder and Lucas O'Rear may not look like elite players, but the pair helped Northern Iowa to the seventh-best Offensive Rebound Rate in the country this season. The Panthers' weak spot is point guard, where junior Kwadzo Ahelegbe misses too many shots and commits too many turnovers.

UNLV is a balanced team that plays at an average pace. Wing Tre'Von Willis is the Runnin' Rebels' most efficient and active player, posting a 54.2 eFG% and using 29.5 percent of the team's possessions. UNLV is relentless on defense: It recorded the nation's second most steals per possession, thanks largely to Chace Stanback and Anthony Marshall. On offense, the Runnin' Rebels succeed by taking care of the ball. Guards Willis, Oscar Bellfield and Derrick Jasper all boast Assist Rates better than 20 percent and Turnover Rates less than 20 percent. If Northern Iowa pulls the minor upset, it will do it on the glass. The Panthers have two elite rebounders, while UNLV has rangy athletes but no true glass-cleaners. UNLV's Anthony Marshall celebrates a dunk — AP Photo

Upset Watch

The talent gap betwen No. 10 seed Georgia Tech and No. 7 seed Oklahoma State is not substantial. The Cowboys' skill is concentrated on the perimeter with guards James Anderson and Obi Muonelo while the Yellow Jackets' best players are posts Gani Lawal and Derrick Favors.

In such an evenly matched game, style of play could end up being the deciding factor. Georgia Tech has allowed opponents to score a larger portion of their points on three-pointers than the national average, and as anyone who watched Oklahoma State in the Big 12 tournament can attest, the Cowboys like to shoot from long range. Muonelo made 42.9 percent of his three-point attempts while Anderson and Keiton Page both posted above-average percentages.

If Georgia Tech asserts itself inside, it could advance to face (presumably) Ohio State. Lawal and Favors combine to use nearly 50 percent of the Yellow Jackets' possessions during their playing time and each scores at a solid rate. Both are excellent rebounders and shot-blockers, as well.

The Region's Best...


Ohio State's do-it-all guard Evan Turner is the best player in college basketball. The 6-foot-7 point-forward shoots often, shoots well, rebounds, distributes, blocks shots and steals possessions. The only hole in Turner's game is his iffy three-point shooting, but Buckeye teammates Jon Diebler and David Lighty make up for that with their own long-distance gunnery. Ohio State's National Player of the Year favorite Evan Turner — AP Photo


The Midwest Region has some good ones:

• Kansas Jayhawks — fictional; unexplained pilgrim shoes

• UNLV Runnin' Rebels — mustachioed mascot

• Maryland Terrapins — creative turtle name

• Georgetown Hoyas — also fictional

• UCSB Gauchos — related to Argentina; hilarious pants

Lehigh Mountain Hawks — Combining two great things (i.e. mountains, hawks) is a recipe for unbridled greatness.


The quality of teams in the Midwest doesn't really start to taper off until No. 12 seed New Mexico State, but Kansas stands above all else as the clear-cut favorite. Ohio State and Maryland are outstanding but one-dimensional, Georgetown is inconsistent, and Michigan State lacks the pure talent to make a serious push this season. KU's 32-2 record speaks for itself.


Recap: Title game a foul affair for ‘Cats

This blog spent more than a few words yesterday talking about how Kansas' depth and supreme talent level made it OK for forward Marcus Morris to sit out with foul trouble. That may have been true, but having the big guy around on Saturday didn't hurt KU.

Marcus Morris scored 18 points on 13 field goal attempts and helped the Jayhawks compete on the boards against a Kansas State team known for its rebounding. Marcus, Markieff Morris and Cole Aldrich each grabbed more than 10 percent of the total available rebounds during their playing time. Kansas State forwards Luis Colon and Curtis Kelly also recorded plenty of rebounds, but the Kansas bigs neutralized what could have been an advantage for the Wildcats.

A couple of quick statistical hits:

• Saturday's game supplied a classic example of the "eye test" not telling the whole truth. The contest was full of 4-0 or 5-0 runs and looked sloppy and plodding. In truth, the offenses weren't terrible. KU scored 1.13 points per possession, slightly worse than its season average. Kansas State generated an even one point per possession: Worse than its mean but near the national average and better than that of most KU opponents. The game was painful to watch not because of a lack of offense, but because of a lack of pace. The teams played at a 64-possession pace, Kansas State's second-slowest and KU's fifth-slowest of the season.

Saturday's GameFlow (in Super Slo-Mo) from

• One of the differences in Saturday's game was the teams' Free Throw Rates. The Jayhawks shot nearly six free throws for every 10 field goal attempts while the Wildcats earned just two free throw tries per 10 field goal attempts. This result half-met expectations, as Kansas State entered Saturday shooting the most free throws and giving up the most free throws in the Big 12 Conference. On top of the free throw attempt disparity, KU converted 77.4 percent of its attempts while Kansas State made just 57.1 percent of its tries.

M.O.J. (Most Outstanding Jayhawk)

This one was tough.

Marcus Morris was solid on the boards, ultra-active on offense and fairly efficient. Reserve guard Tyrel Reed somehow scored 15 points on four field goal attempts in just 20 minutes. Talk about efficiency.

Better than Morris and Reed was point guard Sherron Collins. The senior added to his already-impressive highlight reel with several beautiful floaters, assisted 41.9 percent of his teammates' field goals when he was on the floor and generated 1.32 points per possession.

Room For Improvement

KU did a lot of great things on Saturday. It took away Kansas State's assumed advantage on the boards, somehow avoided committing fouls and forced the Wildcats into a 40.6 eFG%. What KU didn't do is force turnovers. Kansas State committed a turnover on just 7.8 percent of its possessions, the second-lowest by any KU opponent this season. There's not much room to criticize a defensive performance that turned the nation's 16th-best offense into an average unit, but something has to go in this space, right?

Tough Luck Line

KU guards Xavier Henry and Tyshawn Taylor played passively, using less than 20 percent of KU's offensive possessions combined. Each showed his value on the defensive end, but Henry earned this yoke thanks to his 1-for-7 shooting line.

The Bottom Line:

Successful or not in the upcoming NCAA tournament, this Kansas team only has a few games remaining. Enjoy the next few weeks. This team shares the ball, scores with ease, plays tenacious defense and switches tempo effortlessly from possession to possession. Oh yeah, and they do a little winning, too.


Recap: Kansas overwhelms A&M with sheer talent

Kansas forward Marcus Morris found himself in foul trouble and his teammates managed to stay within striking distance of Texas A&M.

Texas A&M guard Donald Sloan ran into foul problems as well, but his teammates couldn't stem KU's second-half tide.

The difference in KU's 79-66 victory against Texas A&M on Friday wasn't quite that black and white. But Morris' and Sloan's foul issues certainly put on display the reason KU is so fearsome: The Jayhawks have enough talent to defeat a good team despite the loss of an offensive threat such as Marcus Morris. When the Jayhawks lost Morris for much of the first half, fellow KU bigs Cole Aldrich and Markieff Morris did their parts to ensure KU stayed within three points of Texas A&M at halftime. In the second half, Marcus Morris didn't often leave the bench, while Aldrich and Markieff Morris didn't often find themselves outmatched by the Aggies.

Check out the stat lines from the game's four most prominent post players:

Bryan Davis, Texas A&M: 30 minutes, 0 eFG%, 21% Rebound Rate, 0% Assist Rate, 5.8% Steal Rate, 12.5% Block Rate, 0.43 points per possession, 9.8% of team's possessions used.

David Loubeau, Texas A&M: 26 minutes, 66.6 eFG%, 5% Rebound Rate, 9.1% Assist Rate, 4.5% Steal Rate, 0% Block Rate, 1.24 points per possession, 13.5% of team's possessions used.

Cole Aldrich, KU: 31 minutes, 100 eFG%, 19% Rebound Rate, 5.6% Assist Rate, 0% Steal Rate, 11.7% Block Rate, 0.81 points per possession, 15.1% of team's possessions used.

Markieff Morris, KU: 29 minutes, 90 eFG%, 11% Rebound Rate, 24.5% Assist Rate, 4% Steal Rate, 12.5% Block Rate, 1.66 points per possession, 12.1% of team's possessions used.

Neither team's post players were especially active on offense, with none using more than 15.1 percent of his squad's possessions. But when they did assert themselves, KU's bigs did a more efficient job. Morris and Aldrich combined to create well over one point per possession (average), while Davis and Loubeau failed to earn one point per possession. Also, Aldrich and Morris grabbed a higher percentage of available rebounds and blocked more shots than the Davis-Loubeau combination. Markieff and Aldrich were not elite, but KU managed the loss of Marcus serviceably.

On the flip side, Texas A&M could not handle Sloan leaving the game because of foul trouble for a short stretch in the second half. With Sloan on the bench, KU took control of the game and captured a lead it would hold the rest of the way. Aggie guards B.J. Holmes and Khris Middleton were efficient in low-volume roles, combining to use just 36.3 percent of Texas A&M's possessions. KU guards Sherron Collins and Tyshawn Taylor were efficient and aggressive, creating nearly 1.5 points per possession on 48.8 percent of KU's trips.

The difference between a good team (Texas A&M) and a great team (Kansas) on Friday was the Jayhawks' advantage in the sheer talent department. Without one of its best players, KU simply plugged a reserve in and outplayed the No. 24 team in the nation. Without their lead guard, the Aggies couldn't hang with the No. 1 Jayhawks.

A look at Friday's Game Flow (from

M.O.J. (Most Outstanding Jayhawk)

No ifs, ands, or buts about it: Sherron Collins was the best player at Sprint Center on Friday. The KU senior made 50 percent of his two-point attempts, 42.9 percent of his three-point shots and 83.3 percent of his free throw tries. He delivered six assists to just one turnover and created 1.54 points per possession. KU guard Sherron Collins dominated Texas A&M — Nick Krug/LJW Photo

Room For Improvement

KU threw its quickest defender in Tyshawn Taylor at Texas A&M guard Donald Sloan, to no avail. At times Sloan seemed a few steps faster than the KU defense, speed that manifested itself in a 24-point, 8-for-16 performance. Some of Sloan's shots were defended well by Taylor, but giving up 24 points to a single player always stands out as a potential reason for worry.

Tough Luck Line

In his 11 foul-plagued minutes, Marcus Morris registered three "good numbers": two points and one steal. He was responsible for six "bad numbers," committing two turnovers and four fouls. A foul-free Marcus could be an important cog in KU's machine on Saturday when the Jayhawks are charged with facing the dynamic Kansas State frontcourt combo of Jamar Samuels and Curtis Kelly.

The Bottom Line:

KU played another game full of possessions good, bad and ugly. The Jayhawks turned the ball over 27.9 percent of the time but made 56 percent of their field goal attempts. They sent the Aggies to the free throw line more often than average but outpaced A&M in total free throw attempts. I guess it's just a case of 2010 KU being 2010 KU — usually a good thing for Jayhawk fans.


Recap: Kansas unsteady but decent vs. Tech

Kansas has won games on the strength of its guard play, its shooting and its defense multiple times this season. Thursday, the Jayhawks won because of their size and talent around the basket.

Look no further than StatSheet's breakdown of the game to see how completely KU bigs Cole Aldrich and the twins Morris dominated the smaller Red Raiders.

• The Jayhawks grabbed seven percent more offensive rebounds and seven percent more defensive rebounds than the Red Raiders. Aldrich and Markieff Morris were especially active on the glass, as each scooped up more than 20 percent of available rebounds during his playing time.

• KU blocked 12.3 percent of Texas Tech's field goal attempts. If a team were to post those numbers for a whole season, it would rank second nationally in Block Rate behind only Marshall (KU is currently ranked ninth in the nation). Aldrich and Markieff Morris each blocked multiple shots and freshman post Thomas Robinson also chipped in with two rejections in five minutes.

Next up for KU is a Texas A&M team with a strong post presence in forward Bryan Davis. Davis is an active offensive player with decent efficiency numbers. His Rebound Rate is solid, so it should be interesting to see how Aldrich and the Morris twins handle him. KU center Cole Aldrich presented Texas Tech's smaller frontcourt with problems — LJW Photo/Nick Krug

M.O.J. (Most Outstanding Jayhawk)

The honor could certainly go to Aldrich, whose 18 rebounds (15 defensive) helped trigger KU's offense and kept Texas Tech from getting second shots. But KU guard Sherron Collins was so relentlessly efficient during his 26 minutes that Thursday's award was his. Collins battled a rare case of foul trouble against Texas Tech, but served as a shot-making machine while not sitting on the bench. The stocky guard went 5-for-8 from the field, 6-for-6 from the free throw line and created 1.56 points per possession used.

Room For Improvement

You don't need to see this chart if you have watched much KU basketball this season. But here it is, anyway, compliments of

KU's issue is apparent: It has problems putting teams away. After building a comfortable double-digit lead early in the second half, the Jayhawks yielded a run that allowed the Red Raiders within two points with less than six minutes to play. Granted, KU hasn't had much of a problem surviving these scares. But for the sake of Jayhawk fans' health, KU might want to grow a lead or two in the Big 12 tournament.

Tough Luck Line

Early on, it looked like Xavier Henry might end up with an ugly line. Henry, however, recovered to score 13 points on 4-for-10 shooting. That left guard Tyshawn Taylor as the lone Jayhawk with a lame line. Taylor wasn't terrible: He didn't commit a turnover while distributing four assists. But he finished 0-for-3 from the field and 2-for-4 from the free throw line.

The Bottom Line:

For all the talk of KU's unsteadiness and streakiness, the Jayhawks really put together a pretty decent performance on Thursday. KU outscored Texas Tech by 0.16 points per possession, just less than the Jayhawks' conference season average.


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 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. 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.


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