Entries from blogs tagged with “ku”

The “Wild Card”

Kansas Women's Basketball had another disappointing season. We have been waiting until next year for a long time so you may be surprised that I am excited. Did you know that KU's recruiting class is, according to "HoopGurlz", ranked 29th? The incoming class includes two four-star and two three-star prospects as rated by "HoopGurlz". This will be Coach Henrickson’s best incoming class. Add the newcomers to a good core of returners and they should finally have their breakout season. The "wild card" will be the coaching. Can Coach Henrickson elevate her coaching to the caliber needed to challenge for a Big 12 title? She now has a chance to prove herself with a more level playing field. The only acceptable outcome next season is success in the Big 12 that will earn a trip to the NCAA Tournament.

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Recap: Jayhawks’ defense anything but a weakness in first two NCAA games

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.

I heard countless times earlier this year that the Kansas men's basketball team's defense was going to keep it from making a deep postseason run.

So far, unlikely as it might sound, KU's defense has been its biggest strength through its first two games of the NCAA Tournament.

Kansas players Tyrel Reed, left, and Markieff Morris defend Illinois' Demetri McCamey (32) Sunday, March 20, 2011 at the BOK Center in Tulsa, Okla.

Kansas players Tyrel Reed, left, and Markieff Morris defend Illinois' Demetri McCamey (32) Sunday, March 20, 2011 at the BOK Center in Tulsa, Okla. by Mike Yoder

The Jayhawks had another impressive defensive effort against Illinois on Sunday, allowing just 0.89 points per possession — the Illini's fourth-lowest PPP number of the season.

Not only did KU force Illinois into a bad shooting night (43.3 eFG%, seventh-worst this year), it did so without fouling. Illinois' free-throw rate (FTs*100/FGs) of 15.0 was its sixth-lowest of the season, while its nine free throws attempted tied for its fifth-lowest of the year.

KU was especially good against Illinois' best offensive player Demetri McCamey, who posted just 0.78 points per possession used — his worst showing in his last nine games.

Here's the breakdown of the teams' points per possession by half:

First half
KU — 1.03 PPP
Illinois — 0.88 PPP
(32 possessions)

Second half
KU — 1.18 PPP
Illinois — 0.88 PPP
(34 possessions)

While the Jayhawks' offense improved in the second half, KU's defense was consistently good throughout.

Kansas guard Brady Morningstar blocks a shot by Illinois guard Brandon Paul during the second half Sunday, March 20, 2011 at the BOK Center in Tulsa.

Kansas guard Brady Morningstar blocks a shot by Illinois guard Brandon Paul during the second half Sunday, March 20, 2011 at the BOK Center in Tulsa. by Nick Krug

It just goes to show we probably shouldn't rush to conclusions about a team in December or January when it still has plenty of time to improve before March.

M.O.J. (Most Outstanding Jayhawk)

Markieff Morris beats out Tyshawn Taylor to earn M.O.J. honors against Illinois.

Kansas forward Markieff Morris delivers on an alley-oop dunk from teammate Tyshawn Taylor during the second half against Illinois on Sunday, March 20, 2011 at the BOK Center in Tulsa.

Kansas forward Markieff Morris delivers on an alley-oop dunk from teammate Tyshawn Taylor during the second half against Illinois on Sunday, March 20, 2011 at the BOK Center in Tulsa. by Nick Krug

The 6-foot-10 forward posted 1.13 points per possession used while a high number of possessions (27.3 percent). His effective field-goal percentage of 80.7 was the best on the team for players who shot more than once.

Markieff also posted a team-high floor percentage, as when he ended a KU possession, the Jayhawks scored at least one point 64.9 percent of the time.

The junior provided value on the glass as well, coming away with 29.7 percent of the available defensive rebounds and 13.8 percent of the available offensive rebounds during his 31 minutes.

Room for Improvement

The Jayhawks made up for an awful offensive rebounding day by grabbing four important ones in the final eight minutes.

Kansas forwards Marcus (22) and Markieff Morris pull a rebound from Illinois forward Mike Davis during the second half Sunday, March 20, 2011 at the BOK Center in Tulsa.

Kansas forwards Marcus (22) and Markieff Morris pull a rebound from Illinois forward Mike Davis during the second half Sunday, March 20, 2011 at the BOK Center in Tulsa. by Nick Krug

Before that, KU had just three offensive rebounds in the first 32 minutes, which would have ranked Sunday's game as one of KU's worst offensive rebounding games all season.

As it was, the Jayhawks ended with a 25 percent offensive rebounding percentage — its fifth-lowest offensive rebounding percentage of the season.

The 25 percent offensive rebounding percentage was well below KU's season average (36.2 percent) and below the average offensive rebounding percentage that Illinois allowed over the course of the year (31.5 percent).

The good news for the Jayhawks is that they took full advantage of the offensive rebounds they did get. From seven offensive rebounds, the Jayhawks scored 12 second-half points, meaning KU scored a whopping 1.71 points per possession when it was able to pull down an offensive rebound.

Tough-Luck Line

Tyrel Reed's tough shooting day lands him in this spot.

Kansas guard Tyrel Reed works his way around Illinois defender Brandon Paul during the second half on Sunday, March 20, 2011 at the BOK Center in Tulsa.

Kansas guard Tyrel Reed works his way around Illinois defender Brandon Paul during the second half on Sunday, March 20, 2011 at the BOK Center in Tulsa. by Nick Krug

Reed posted just 0.85 points per possession used while ending 13.2 percent of KU's possessions. His eFG% of 21.4 was lowest on the team; KU scored at least one point on just 35.9 percent of the possessions he used.

It actually wasn't a horrible game for Reed to go cold (1-for-5 from three), as KU was able to win by double digits even without him contributing much offensively.

Reed had made 7 of his last 15 three-pointers coming into Sunday's game (46.7 percent), so I wouldn't think Sunday's struggles will carry over into KU's next game against Richmond.

Bottom Line

The last two years, KU's NCAA Tournament losses could be directly linked to unforced turnovers, and for awhile, Sunday's game looked like it might be heading down the same path.

Kansas forward Markieff Morris watches as teammate Tyshawn Taylor comes away with a steal from Illinois guard Demetri McCamey during the first half on Sunday, March 20, 2011 at the BOK Center in Tulsa.

Kansas forward Markieff Morris watches as teammate Tyshawn Taylor comes away with a steal from Illinois guard Demetri McCamey during the first half on Sunday, March 20, 2011 at the BOK Center in Tulsa. by Nick Krug

In the first half, KU turned it over eight times in 32 possessions (25 percent), which was much higher than its season average (19.2 percent) and the season average of Illinois' opponents (19.2 percent).

The Jayhawks corrected the problem in the second half, turning it over just four times in its final 34 possessions (11.8 percent).

By securing the ball, the Jayhawks boosted their points per possession, which allowed them to pull away in the second half.

KU has gotten an unbelievable break in its bracket and now will be a heavy favorite to advance to the Final Four.

The Jayhawks have already faced their toughest roadblock on the way to Houston: KenPom gave KU a 69-percent chance to beat Illinois.

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson acknowledges the crowd as the Jayhawks leave the court following their 73-59 win over Illinois on Sunday, March 20, 2011 at the BOK Center in Tulsa.

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson acknowledges the crowd as the Jayhawks leave the court following their 73-59 win over Illinois on Sunday, March 20, 2011 at the BOK Center in Tulsa. by Nick Krug

Now, according to KenPom, KU has a 66.3-percent chance of making the Final Four and a 42.8-percent chance of making the championship game — the best odds for both of those scenarios of any team left in the field.

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Recap: Brady Morningstar’s adjustment helps KU shut down Boston

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.

Kansas made some important three-pointers in the second half of its 72-53 victory over Boston.

Tyshawn Taylor made one, while Markieff Morris followed with an NBA three to put KU up 15 points with 7:35 left.

Kansas teammates Travis Releford, left, and Tyshawn Taylor collide in midair as they celebrate a run by the Jayhawks against Boston University during the second half on Friday, March 18, 2011 at the BOK Center in Tulsa.

Kansas teammates Travis Releford, left, and Tyshawn Taylor collide in midair as they celebrate a run by the Jayhawks against Boston University during the second half on Friday, March 18, 2011 at the BOK Center in Tulsa. by Nick Krug

At one point, KU made nine straight shots in the second half.

Still, it was KU's defense that was the biggest key in the Jayhawks pulling away from the pesky Terriers.

KU held BU to just 0.84 points per possession — the best defensive mark for the Jayhawks since before Big 12 play began (Michigan, 0.81 PPP).

The defensive numbers look even better if you look at the second half alone.

First half
KU — 1.06 PPP
BU — 0.94 PPP
(31 possessions)

Second half
KU — 1.22 PPP
BU — 0.75 PPP
(32 possessions)

A big reason for KU's defensive improvement was KU guard Brady Morningstar locking down on BU's John Holland, who scored 10 of his team's first 12 points.

Kansas guard Brady Morningstar steals the ball from Boston University guard D.J. Irving during the first half on Friday, March 18, 2011 at the BOK Center in Tulsa. At right is KU guard Tyshawn Taylor.

Kansas guard Brady Morningstar steals the ball from Boston University guard D.J. Irving during the first half on Friday, March 18, 2011 at the BOK Center in Tulsa. At right is KU guard Tyshawn Taylor. by Nick Krug

After starting the game 7-for-9, Holland missed his final 10 shots.

Morningstar told me afterwards that it took a little while to figure out how Holland played. The KU guard was expecting more driving to the hoop from him, yet Boston continually had him run around screens to get open set shots, which he was making.

Morningstar changed his style of defense, getting more underneath Holland to force him to drive. Even if he did penetrate, Morningstar knew he'd have help defenders behind him. The key was to not let Holland get clean looks on jumpshots.

The adjustment — and execution of that adjustment — helped KU shut down BU's best player, which in turn severely limited what the Terriers could do offensively in the second half.

M.O.J. (Most Outstanding Jayhawk)

For the second straight game, Tyshawn Taylor picks up M.O.J. honors after giving the Jayhawks a boost offensively.

Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor looks to dish as he drives the lane against Boston University during the first half on Friday, March 18, 2011 at the BOK Center in Tulsa.

Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor looks to dish as he drives the lane against Boston University during the first half on Friday, March 18, 2011 at the BOK Center in Tulsa. by Nick Krug

The junior guard posted 1.51 points per possession used while ending 16.2 percent of the Jayhawks' possessions.

Quietly, Taylor has developed into one of KU's most reliable three-point shooters. In his last seven games, he's gone 8-for-14 (57.1 percent) from three-point range.

Taylor also contributed 37.8 percent of his team's assists while he was in the game, his second highest mark in Big 12/postseason play.

After facing criticism for his carelessness most of this season, Taylor has put together two of his best games at exactly the right time.

Room for Improvement

KU's gameplan in most games should be to attack the paint with its talented forwards, and the Jayhawks didn't do a good job of that, especially in the first half.

Kansas forward Markieff Morris battles for a rebound between Boston University defenders D.J. Irving (13) and Dom Morris (15) during the first half on Friday, March 18, 2011 at the BOK Center in Tulsa.

Kansas forward Markieff Morris battles for a rebound between Boston University defenders D.J. Irving (13) and Dom Morris (15) during the first half on Friday, March 18, 2011 at the BOK Center in Tulsa. by Nick Krug

Because of that, KU's free-throw rate (FTs*100/FGs) was extremely low.

The Jayhawks posted a free-throw rate of only 14.0, its second lowest mark of the entire season.

KU finished with just eight free-throw attempts, which also was the second-lowest this year, next to the Miami (Ohio) game on Jan. 2 (seven free throws attempted).

BU's packed-in zone looked a lot like Oklahoma State's in the first half, and in some of those scenarios, KU almost will have to hit some open threes to loosen up the defense.

Still, against an overmatched team like BU, the Jayhawks should expect to force it inside enough to get more than eight free-throw attempts.

Tough-Luck Line

No KU player had an awful game, so we'll go with Elijah Johnson here simply based on his inability to avoid fouls.

Elijah Johnson, (15) right, strips the ball away from Jeff Pelage (32) during the first half against Boston University, Friday, March 18, 2011 at the BOK Center in Tulsa, OK.

Elijah Johnson, (15) right, strips the ball away from Jeff Pelage (32) during the first half against Boston University, Friday, March 18, 2011 at the BOK Center in Tulsa, OK. by Mike Yoder

In nine minutes, Johnson racked up a team-high four fouls. That ended up being more than 30 percent of KU's total fouls on Friday (the Jayhawks only had 13).

Johnson did contribute a team-high two steals to go with one assist during his minutes, but his impact was limited because he couldn't stop fouling.

After playing a few solid defensive games in a row late in the Big 12 season, Johnson has struggled as of late. In his last four games, he has 13 fouls in just 41 minutes. That means he's picking up a foul every 3.2 minutes of gametime.

If Johnson can't get that statistic corrected, he's going to have a hard time getting more than a handful of minutes in any NCAA Tournament game.

Bottom Line

Though I expected KU to dominate the offensive glass against BU, the Jayhawks ended up taking control by dominating the defensive glass.

Kansas guard Tyrel Reed and Boston University forward Patrick Hazel battle for a rebound in the first half of a Southwest Regional NCAA tournament second round college basketball game, Friday, March 18, 2011 in Tulsa, Okla.

Kansas guard Tyrel Reed and Boston University forward Patrick Hazel battle for a rebound in the first half of a Southwest Regional NCAA tournament second round college basketball game, Friday, March 18, 2011 in Tulsa, Okla.

KU's 36.7 percent offensive rebounding percentage was almost right at its season average, but its 82.9 percent defensive rebounding percentage was spectacular.

BU's 17.1 percent offensive rebounding percentage was its lowest mark all season. Its previous worst in a game this year was 21.4 percent.

KU's great rebounding effort was just part of a strong overall defensive performance that carried the Jayhawks when their offense stalled in the first 30 minutes.

The Jayhawks now must prepare for the toughest Round of 32 game for any No. 1 seed (or No. 2 seed or No. 3 seed or No. 4 seed), as ninth-seeded Illinois, with its win Friday, has moved all the way up to 16th in the latest KenPom rankings.

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Friday’s NCAA Tournament catch-all discussion

3:15 p.m. update:

This one is from Matt Tait, for d_prowess ...

2:20 p.m. update:

Short video of Memphis's players leaving the locker room before their game against Arizona.

1:56 p.m. update:

Another Tait photo ...

12:58 p.m. update:

Matt Tait with the iPhone photography skills ...

12:25 p.m. update:

Journal-World reporter Matt Tait and I are here at the BOK Center, watching Texas and Oakland play.

Figured we'd start up a catch-all NCAA Tournament blog. Want to comment on this game? Others you're watching? Want to complain about your bracket? This is the place to do it.

We'll be posting photos and other notes up here, but we'll also be joining the conversation in the comments section below.

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Strengths, weaknesses and players to watch from UNLV, Illinois

All statistics courtesy of KenPom.com and are current as of March 16.

Team: UNLV
Record: 24-8
Seed: 8
KenPom (Ken Pomeroy) Ranking: 24th

Strengths

Though UNLV is fairly balanced, its strength lies in its defense.

The Runnin’ Rebels rank 14th nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency, which, if they played in the Big 12, would rank third behind Texas (first) and Kansas (12th).

UNLV likes to pressure defensively, forcing turnovers on 24.1 percent of its opponents’ possessions (17th nationally). The Rebels also force other teams into tough shots, as opponents have made just 43.8 percent of their two-pointers (29th nationally) and 32.4 percent of their three-pointers (64th nationally).

Offensively, UNLV’s strength is inside with its big men. The Rebels make 51.6 percent of their twos (30th nationally) while avoiding blocked shots and turnovers.

UNLV has just 6.6 percent of its two-pointers blocked (14th nationally) and has just 7.5 percent of its possessions end in opponents’ steals (16th nationally).

Weaknesses

UNLV doesn’t shoot three-pointers well, making just 33.1 percent of their shots from long range (224th nationally). In fact, the Red Rebels have just two players that shoot better than 34 percent from three-point range on their roster (For comparison, KU has 10 players that shoot better than 34 percent from three, and all of them shoot at least 36 percent). UNLV also is foul-prone defensively, allowing 21.1 free throws per game.

Players to Watch

Obviously, 6-foot-8 Quintrell Thomas is a player to watch after transferring from KU two years ago. Though he’s averaging just 15.2 minutes per game and 6.6 points, he played well in the Mountain West Tournament, where in two games, he combined to score 14 points on 6-for-7 shooting with nine rebounds and five blocks in just 34 minutes.

Six-foot-4 senior guard Tre’Von Willis is UNLV’s go-to guy, posting a team-high 13.5 points to go with 3.6 assists per game.

He’s also dangerous defensively, where he posts steals on 3.3 percent of the opposition’s possessions (124th nationally).

Six-foot-8 forward Chace Stanback, at 13.0 points per game, is more efficient than Willis because of his low-turnover count (one turnover every 20.7 minutes). He also can hit shots from the outside, making 47 of 125 three-pointers (37.6 percent) this season. He’s been especially hot lately, as he made 8 of 13 threes (61.5 percent) during two games at the Mountain West tournament.

Though he plays just 18.8 minutes per game, also look out for 6-foot-3 guard Justin Hawkins off the bench. The sophomore comes up with steals on 4.0 percent of his defensive possessions (38th nationally) while turning it over just once every 26.1 minutes.

Bottom Line

The Runnin’ Rebels record is deceiving, as six of their eight losses have come to top-13 KenPom teams.

UNLV could create problems for KU if it’s able to speed the Jayhawks up and force them into turnovers. The Runnin’ Rebels also have four players 6-foot-8 or taller, meaning they have a lot of bodies to throw at KU’s talented frontcourt.

Obviously KU has the edge if these two teams meet, but this wouldn’t be a pushover for the Jayhawks. UNLV was only a one-point underdog at home against San Diego State in the MWC tournament on Friday (a 74-72 loss), meaning KU most likely would be only be about an eight-point favorite if these two teams met in the round of 32.

Team: Illinois
Record: 19-13
Seed: 9
KenPom (Ken Pomeroy) Ranking: 20th

Strengths Another balanced team, Illinois ranks 33rd nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency and 23rd in adjusted defensive efficiency.

Offensively, the Illini shoot it well, making 50.4 percent of their twos (69th nationally), 38.7 percent of their threes (22nd nationally) and 72.9 percent of their free throws (63rd nationally).

Defensively, Illinois defends three-pointers well, as opponents have made just 30.5 percent of their threes this year (16th-best nationally). The Illini also block 12.4 percent of their opponents’ two-point attempts (35th nationally).

Illinois also is the tallest team in the nation, with its average player measuring a shade over 6-foot-7. The Illini play two 7-footers and four other forwards who are 6-8 or taller.

Weaknesses

Illinois hardly ever gets to the free throw line, averaging just 16.1 foul shots per game (To compare, KU averages 23.4 free throws per game).

For being such a tall team, Illinois is only average on the offensive glass, grabbing just 32.4 percent of the available offensive rebounds (NCAA average is 32.3 percent).

The Illini don’t force many turnovers defensively, as opponents give it away on just 18.7 percent of their possessions (259th nationally). They also have the bad habit of fouling the opposition’s guards, as Illinois’ opponents have made 72.3 percent of their free throws.

It’s true that Illinois has faced a brutal schedule (fifth-toughest, according to KenPom), but the Illini still haven’t been winning many games as of late. After starting the season 13-3, Illinois has gone 6-10 in its last 16 games. The Illini have not won consecutive games since Jan. 2 and 6, and have also lost four of their last six.

Players to Watch

Six-foot-3 senior guard Demetri McCamey is Illinois’ best player, averaging 14.8 points and 6.1 assists per game.

He contributes 35.8 percent of Illinois’ assists while he’s on the court, which ranks 21st nationally, and also is a great three-point shooter, making 70 of 154 treys (45.5 percent).

Seven-foot-1 Mike Tisdale provides a boost on the offensive glass, grabbing 11.1 percent of the available offensive rebounds (201st nationally). The big man is a dangerous shooter from anywhere on the court, making 53.6 percent of his twos (103 of 192), 43.5 percent of his threes (20 of 46) and 80 percent of his free throws (56 of 70). He’s also a defensive presence, blocking 6.8 percent of opponents’ two-pointers when he’s in (88th nationally).

Six-foot-9 senior forward Mike Davis also provides some offensive punch, making 53.1 percent of his two-pointers. He’s also Illinois’ best defensive rebounder, coming away with the carom on 18.4 percent of the opposition’s missed shots during his minutes.

Bottom Line

Not only did KU draw KenPom’s top-rated No. 8 seed in the tournament (UNLV), it also drew KenPom’s top-rated No. 9 seed in Illinois.

The Illini have suffered from some tough luck this year, posting a 2-8 record in games decided by seven points or fewer. They also haven’t performed well against elite opponents, going 1-6 against KenPom top-10 teams. An upset over KU would be unlikely, but not out of the question. Illinois was only a 10.5-point underdog at Ohio State on Feb. 22, meaning on a semi-home court for KU in Tulsa, Okla., the Jayhawks would likely be about nine-point favorites.

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Boston’s strengths, weaknesses and players to watch

All statistics courtesy of KenPom.com and are current as of March 15. For a breakdown of potential KU opponents UNLV and Illinois, check back to KUsports.com Thursday or pick up a copy of the NCAA Preview section in Thursday's Journal-World.

Team: Boston
Record: 21-13
Seed: 16
KenPom (Ken Pomeroy) Ranking: 169

Strengths

Boston looks to be a team that doesn’t make a lot of mistakes.

The Terriers aren’t turnover-prone, as they give it away on just 19.0 percent of their possessions (NCAA average is 20.2 percent). They also don’t foul much defensively, allowing just 16.7 free throws per game (Kansas allows 19.4 free throws per game).

Though BU’s schedule wasn’t the greatest, ranking 281st in KenPom’s rankings, the Terriers were able to hold their opponents to low shooting percentages. Teams shot just 32.1 percent from three-point range against BU (52nd-best nationally) and 44.1 percent from two-point range (34th nationally) this season.

The Terriers’ style of play might also help them as a heavy underdog, as they rank 295th in tempo out of 345 NCAA teams. A game with fewer possessions gives BU a better chance at an upset. The Terriers also are a good free-throw shooting team (73.1 percent).

Weaknesses

Boston has one huge, glaring, can’t-be-missed weakness: It has almost no size.

The Terriers’ tallest player eligible this season is 6-foot-8. And because of that, they struggle in many areas that you’d expect.

Though BU is a decent offensive rebounding team, it has major issues keeping opponents off the offensive glass. Opposing teams are grabbing their own misses 33.5 percent of the time, which ranks BU as 235th nationally in that statistic.

The Terriers also struggle from inside the arc offensively, as they’ve made just 43.5 percent of their twos this season (313th nationally). Exactly one-ninth of their two-pointers taken are blocked (299th nationally).

Because of their struggles inside, the Terriers are happy to fire away from three, as 39.8 percent of their shots taken are three-pointers (the 38th-highest split in the nation). BU also gets 34.6 percent of its scoring from three-pointers (27th-highest split nationally).

Players to Watch

Six-foot-5 guard/forward John Holland won America East Player of the Year this season, and deservedly so.

The senior averages 19.2 points per game while taking on a huge offensive load for the Terriers. He puts up 34.1 percent of the team’s shots while he’s on the court, which ranks 14th nationally. Though he’s not a big assist guy (1.6 per game), he hardly ever turns it over, averaging one turnover every 15.5 minutes.

Six-foot-6 guard Darryl Partin and 6-8 forward Jake O’Brien (done for season, foot injury) score most of their points from long range. Partin has made 62 of 171 threes (36.3 percent), while O’Brien had put in 26 of 66 treys (39.4 percent).

Six-foot-6 Marquette transfer Patrick Hazel is BU’s best defender, blocking 8.9 percent of the opposing team’s two-pointers (41st nationally) while also tying for the team-high with 5.9 rebounds per game.

Bottom Line

Though the Terriers come in with an 11-game winning streak and appear to be one of the best 16 seeds in the tournament, they shouldn’t be able to stay close with Kansas on Friday. BU lost to Kentucky by 34 earlier in the season and doesn’t appear to have many ways to slow down KU’s powerful forwards. The big key to watch will be BU on the defensive glass. If the Terriers can limit the offensive rebounds from Marcus Morris, Markieff Morris and Thomas Robinson, they might be able to keep the pace slow, hit a few threes and hang around a while. If KU gets a lot of second-chance points, though, this one has the potential to get ugly in a hurry.

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Win a 42” HDTV, just by filling out a bracket on KUsports.com; deadlines shorter this year

It's that time of year again. March Madness is upon us.

And, that means it's time, once more, for the annual KUsports.com Bracket Contest, presented by Henry T's, Brotherhood Bank, Lynn Electric, Intrust Bank and Crown Automotive.

We've got a new twist this year: you must pick the winners of the play-in games. That means there's just two days to enter our contest, and we've already lost 16 hours! The deadline is Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. If you haven't already made a bracket, do it today.

If you've never participated before, our bracket allows you to track yourself against the leaders, any friends you follow on KUsports.com, as well as against our own staff.

As Jesse Newell and I mentioned at an event in Kansas City's Power & Light District this weekend, everyone wants to know when they're beating Tom Keegan.

As I mentioned in the headline, there is a fantastic prize for the best bracketologist among us: a 42-inch, high performance plasma HDTV, courtesy of Kief's Audio/Video in Lawrence.

Get your picks in. Get your brackets set. Good luck!

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Recap: KU punishes nation’s No. 1 defense; plus, a KU concern heading into NCAAs

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. Here's the KU-Colorado recap from Saturday, in case you missed it.

Pretty much all year, Texas has had the No. 1 defense in the nation according to KenPom.com.

The Longhorns' defense was ridiculously good starting Big 12 play: UT allowed less than 0.9 points per possession to 10 of its first 11 Big 12 opponents. That included a matchup against KU, where the Jayhawks mustered just 0.88 PPP.

Though Texas' defense hasn't been as dominant in the last month or so, it's still been good enough to easily hold KenPom's billing.

That makes KU's offensive performance against UT in Saturday's 85-73 victory all the more impressive.

The motivated, ready-for-payback Jayhawks posted 1.25 PPP against the Longhorns on Saturday — the most PPP given up by the Longhorns all season. Only two UT opponents have mustered more than 1.16 PPP against the Longhorns (KU and Colorado) this year.

If KU can score like that on Texas, it can score like that on anyone in the nation.

Using a combination of fast-break points, ball movement and perfectly picked set plays by KU coach Bill Self, the Jayhawks had one of their best offensive performances of the season Saturday, especially considering the opposition.

M.O.J. (Most Outstanding Jayhawk)

This award could go a lot of different ways, as five Jayhawks finished with at least 1.26 points per possession used against Texas.

In the end, though, Tyshawn Taylor is the choice for M.O.J. after picking up his first start in four games.

Playing a season-high 37 minutes, Taylor put up 1.54 points per possession used while ending 19 percent of KU's possessions. When he ended a possession, KU scored at least one point 64 percent of the time.

The junior's eFG% of 80 percent was tops on the team, as was his free-throw rate (FTs*100/FGs) of 70.

Taylor was able to drive effectively and under control against UT, then also finish at the rim, which he's struggled with this year. He also benefited most of any Jayhawk when Texas forward Tristan Thompson sat with foul trouble, as many of his drives might have not finished with layups had the disruptive Thompson been in.

Taylor also didn't force things, putting up just 18.6 percent of KU's shots while he was out there — ranking sixth on the team. He contributed 21.2 percent of KU's assists during his time on the floor while turning it over just twice.

I can't remember a better game for Taylor during his time at KU.

Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor hoists a Big 12 champions sign following the Jayhawks' win over Texas on Saturday, March 12, 2011 at the Sprint Center.

Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor hoists a Big 12 champions sign following the Jayhawks' win over Texas on Saturday, March 12, 2011 at the Sprint Center. by Nick Krug

Room for Improvement

One big concern for KU heading into the NCAA Tournament will be its inability to turn teams over defensively.

Kansas guard Brady Morningstar wrestles for the ball with Texas forward Jordan Hamilton during the second half on Friday, March 11, 2011 at the Sprint Center. In back is KU guard Tyshawn Taylor.

Kansas guard Brady Morningstar wrestles for the ball with Texas forward Jordan Hamilton during the second half on Friday, March 11, 2011 at the Sprint Center. In back is KU guard Tyshawn Taylor. by Nick Krug

The Jayhawks showed no ability to force turnovers in the Big 12 tournament. Though KU has forced teams to turn it over on 20.3 percent of their possessions this year (which is almost exactly the NCAA average), the Jayhawks forced turnovers just 16.1 percent of the time against Oklahoma State, 14.3 percent of the time against Colorado and 10.3 percent of the time against Texas.

Texas' 10.3 percent turnover percentage was the third-lowest recorded against KU all season. Seven of the last eight KU opponents have turned it over on fewer than 18 percent of their possessions.

The Jayhawks could still stand to crank up the defensive pressure a bit. Even with great defense, it's going to be hard to keep an opponent's point total down when it's getting a shot on nearly every possession.

Tough-Luck Line

This is splitting hairs between Josh Selby and Mario Little, who nearly had identical lines, but Little is the pick because of fouls.

Kansas players Tyrel Reed and Mario Little go after a loose ball with Texas forward Matt Hill during the first half on Friday, March 11, 2011 at the Sprint Center.

Kansas players Tyrel Reed and Mario Little go after a loose ball with Texas forward Matt Hill during the first half on Friday, March 11, 2011 at the Sprint Center. by Nick Krug

Little was 0-for-3 from the floor while racking up three personal fouls and a turnover in just seven minutes. He did add a steal and a defensive rebound and made a couple nice passes to the perimeter for shots that his teammates didn't make.

Selby also wasn't good Saturday, missing his only shot while posting two turnovers a rebound in seven minutes.

Self's rotation appears to be shaping up for the NCAAs, with the bench players most likely appearing in this order: Thomas Robinson, Elijah Johnson, Little, then Selby.

Bottom Line

Though KU didn't force many turnovers, it was still able to limit Texas offensively (1.07 PPP) by dominating the defensive glass and limiting free throws.

KU came away with 73.2 percent of the available defensive rebounds; UT's 26.8 percent offensive rebounding percentage was its third-lowest this year.

The Longhorns' free-throw rate of 22.7 also was its second-lowest of the season.

Offensively, KU used great passing to get easy shots. The Jayhawks outscored the Longhorns, 38-18, in the paint.

KU's eFG% of 62.9 percent also was the highest the Longhorns had allowed since the 2007-08 season.

The Jayhawks end the season as fourth in adjusted offensive efficiency and 12th in adjusted defensive efficiency, according to KenPom. Only three teams rank in the top 15 in both categories: Ohio State (first offense, 10th defense), Duke (fifth offense, fifth defense) and KU.

If you're searching for national championship favorites in your bracket, look no further than those three.

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Recap: After three games, Colorado still searching for way to slow down KU’s offense

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.

Colorado will finish this season 0-3 against Kansas after Friday's 90-83 loss, but it won't be because a lack of offensive production.

Kansas forward Marcus Morris defends a shot by Colorado guard Alec Burks during the first half on Friday, March 11, 2011 at the Sprint Center.

Kansas forward Marcus Morris defends a shot by Colorado guard Alec Burks during the first half on Friday, March 11, 2011 at the Sprint Center. by Nick Krug

The Buffaloes, following Friday's 1.19 point-per-possession performance, now have posted two of the top four offensive games against KU this year. CU also posted 1.20 PPP against KU at home on Jan. 25 in an 82-78 loss.

If only the Buffs could find some way to slow down KU, even just a little.

After posting 1.26 and 1.24 PPP in their first two games against CU, the Jayhawks did one better Friday and notched 1.29 PPP against the Buffs.

It was the most points per possession scored against CU all season.

KU now has three of the top five PPP games against the Buffs.

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson dunks on Colorado during the first half on Friday, March 11, 2011 at the Sprint Center.

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson dunks on Colorado during the first half on Friday, March 11, 2011 at the Sprint Center. by Nick Krug

CU coach Tad Boyle (nice guy, by the way) told me afterwards that KU simply was a bad matchup for his team because of his squad's lack of size. He went on to say that teams like Kansas State and Iowa State, with fewer true (and big) post players, were much better matchups for his team than teams like Nebraska and KU, who can repeatedly throw big bodies at the Buffs.

After 120 minutes playing against the Jayhawks, the Buffs didn't appear to be any closer to finding a way to stop KU than the first minute of the first game.

Still, with the right matchup in the NCAA Tournament, I could see the Buffs winning a couple games, especially if they are matched up against smaller teams that don't create matchup nightmares inside.

M.O.J. (Most Outstanding Jayhawk)

Marcus Morris showed great leadership for KU on Friday, but for the second straight day, Markieff Morris earns the M.O.J.

Kansas forward Markieff Morris goes up for a bucket over Colorado forward Austin Dufault during the first half on Friday, March 11, 2011 at the Sprint Center.

Kansas forward Markieff Morris goes up for a bucket over Colorado forward Austin Dufault during the first half on Friday, March 11, 2011 at the Sprint Center. by Nick Krug

Though both brothers scored 20 points, Markieff was more efficient. He posted 1.43 points per possession used (compared to 1.11 for Marcus) while ending a well-above average 25.1 percent of KU's possessions. When Markieff ended a possession, KU scored at least one point 80.5 percent of the time — a team-high.

Markieff also scored 10 straight points for KU during a crucial stretch of the first half, helping turn a 24-17 deficit into a 27-26 lead.

The 6-foot-10 center also was KU's best offensive rebounder, grabbing 26.6 percent of the Jayhawks' misses while he was in. He made 6 of 10 field goals and 7 of 8 free throws while turning it over just once.

His final line of 20 points, eight rebounds and two blocks once again was made more impressive considering he did it in just 25 minutes.

Room for Improvement

KU's defensive performance ranked as one of its worst of the year.

Kansas guard Elijah Johnson delivers a hard foul to Colorado guard Alec Burks during the second half on Friday, March 11, 2011 at the Sprint Center.

Kansas guard Elijah Johnson delivers a hard foul to Colorado guard Alec Burks during the second half on Friday, March 11, 2011 at the Sprint Center. by Nick Krug

Colorado scored at least one point on 57.5 percent of its possessions — the second-highest percentage against KU all season (Kansas State's 57.8 percent on Feb. 14 was the worst).

CU also shot the ball well, as its eFG% of 57.1 was the third-best against KU all season.

Though Alec Burks played well and scored 23 points, guards Nate Tomlinson and Levi Knutson that were the reason that CU was so efficient.

Kansas head coach Bill Self directs his defense against Colorado during the first half on Friday, March 11, 2011 at the Sprint Center.

Kansas head coach Bill Self directs his defense against Colorado during the first half on Friday, March 11, 2011 at the Sprint Center. by Nick Krug

The two combined to make 8 of their 11 three-pointers (72.7 percent), as KU did a poor job of getting out to spot shooters after Burks (six assists) drove the lane.

Tough-Luck Line

Not many good candidates for this, as most of the Jayhawks played well offensively, but we'll give the tough-luck, "Tough-Luck Line" to Josh Selby.

The freshman posted just 0.81 points per possession used while using a monstrous 31.1 percent of KU's possessions during his 11 minutes. When he ended a possession, KU scored at least one point just 41.0 percent of the time.

Kansas guard Josh Selby comes away with his own rebound before Colorado forward Andre Roberson during the second half on Friday, March 11, 2011 at the Sprint Center.

Kansas guard Josh Selby comes away with his own rebound before Colorado forward Andre Roberson during the second half on Friday, March 11, 2011 at the Sprint Center. by Nick Krug

Selby made 2 of 6 shots and 1 of 3 three-pointers while posting no assists and two turnovers.

His one positive was rebounding, as he pulled down 24.2 percent of the available offensive rebounds and 19.6 percent of the available defensive rebounds.

He's oftentimes still a liability for KU with his carelessness, and he's running out of time this season to prove he should get additional minutes in the NCAA Tournament. During Selby's 11 minutes Friday, KU was outscored, 30-23 — one of the factors KU coach Bill Self uses to determine playing time for bench players.

Bottom Line

KU won Friday by outscoring Colorado, and it wasn't only because of good shooting; the Jayhawks also thrived by getting to the free-throw line often and dominating the offensive glass.

Things get physical down low between Kansas players Thomas Robinson (0) and Markieff Morris (21) and Colorado defenders Austin Dufault (33) and Andre Roberson (21) during the first half on Friday, March 11, 2011 at the Sprint Center.

Things get physical down low between Kansas players Thomas Robinson (0) and Markieff Morris (21) and Colorado defenders Austin Dufault (33) and Andre Roberson (21) during the first half on Friday, March 11, 2011 at the Sprint Center. by Nick Krug

KU's free-throw rate (FTs attempted*100/FGs attempted) was 60.0, the third-highest mark of the season. It didn't hurt that the Jayhawks made 87.9 percent of their free throws (29 of 33); their 29 free throws made were a season-high.

The Jayhawks also grabbed 50 percent of the available offensive rebounds against the Buffs — the highest percentage allowed by CU all season. KU turned its 15 offensive rebounds into 16 second-chance points.

In three games against KU this season, CU proved to be more than capable of putting up points.

The Buffs still finished 0-3 simply because they couldn't stop the Jayhawks: not even for a game, not even for a half.

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Recap: How KU defeated Oklahoma State despite terrible shooting

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.

It's a bit ridiculous when you realize what Kansas pulled off Thursday in its 63-62 victory over Oklahoma State.

The Jayhawks trailed by six points at halftime, scored only 28 points in the second half, and still were able to win in regulation.

Obviously, foul trouble hurt OSU in the second half, but the Jayhawks still should be commended for their defensive effort in the final 20 minutes.

Let's take a look at the half-by-half, point-per-possession numbers:

First half
KU — 1.03 PPP
OSU — 1.21 PPP
(34 possessions)

Second half
KU — 1.0 PPP
OSU — 0.75 PPP
(28 possessions)

As you can see, KU's offense didn't change much Thursday, staying consistently below average in both halves.

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson gets caught under Oklahoma State defenders Jarred Shaw (1) and Matt Pilgrim (31) during the first half on Thursday, March 10, 2011 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City.

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson gets caught under Oklahoma State defenders Jarred Shaw (1) and Matt Pilgrim (31) during the first half on Thursday, March 10, 2011 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City. by Nick Krug

It was mostly KU's defensive effort — dropping OSU's production by nearly a half-point per possession in the second half — that allowed the Jayhawks to escape with the close win.

M.O.J. (Most Outstanding Jayhawk)

Tough call on this one, as almost all the Jayhawks had an off morning offensively.

We're going to go a little outside the box here and award the M.O.J. to Markieff Morris, even though he was hampered by foul trouble and only played 18 minutes.

Kansas forward Markieff Morris puts up a shot as Oklahoma State forward Jarred Shaw is called for a blocking foul during the first half on Thursday, March 10, 2011 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City.

Kansas forward Markieff Morris puts up a shot as Oklahoma State forward Jarred Shaw is called for a blocking foul during the first half on Thursday, March 10, 2011 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City. by Nick Krug

Really, he was about the only efficient Jayhawk. He posted 1.21 points per possession used while ending 25 percent of KU's possessions; that's more impressive considering that out of KU's top seven in the rotation, only one other player posted better than 1 point per possession used (Brady Morningstar, 1.09).

Markieff finished 3-for-5 from the floor and also helped foul out OSU's big men, getting to the line five times himself (making four). He came down with 27.7 percent of the available defensive rebounds and tied with Tyshawn Taylor for the highest eFG% on the team (60 percent).

Markieff's 10-point, five-rebound stat line is impressive considering he didn't play much. During his time on the floor, KU outscored OSU, 33-27.

That's enough on this day to earn him an M.O.J.

Room for Improvement

The Jayhawks did a lot of things well against the Cowboys, but they just couldn't shoot a lick.

Kansas forward Marcus Morris shoots over Oklahoma State forward Matt Pilgrim during the first half on Thursday, March 10, 2011 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City.

Kansas forward Marcus Morris shoots over Oklahoma State forward Matt Pilgrim during the first half on Thursday, March 10, 2011 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City. by Nick Krug

KU's eFG% of 39.8 percent was its second-worst of the season behind the Michigan game. The Jayhawks' 20-percent shooting from three-point range also tied for their second-worst effort this year, while their 25 threes attempted were their third-highest this season.

KU needed someone — anyone — to hit a couple open long-range shots in a row, as OSU was daring the Jayhawks to shoot it from deep.

Instead, KU's guards combined to go 3-for-20 (15 percent) from three-point range — a number that's almost hard to fathom considering KU's accomplished shooters.

Tough-Luck Line

Tyrel Reed just never could get his shot going on Thursday.

Kansas guard Tyrel Reed puts up a floater past Missouri guard Marcus Denmon during the second half on Saturday, March 5, 2011 at Mizzou Arena.

Kansas guard Tyrel Reed puts up a floater past Missouri guard Marcus Denmon during the second half on Saturday, March 5, 2011 at Mizzou Arena. by Nick Krug

After making his first three-pointer just 2 minutes, 55 seconds into the game, Reed missed his next seven long-range tries. Most of those were open shots as well.

The bad shooting killed his stat line. He posted just 0.81 points per possession used while ending 14.5 percent of KU's possessions. Not only that, his eFG% of 18.7 percent was his lowest all season.

He also struggled from the free-throw line, making just 3 of 6 shots there.

Reed appeared to move fine with his foot injury, and he still was able to play 31 minutes against OSU, so for now, we'll just chalk this one up as a bad shooting game.

Bottom Line

On a day when shots weren't falling, KU performed well in other statistical categories to come away with a win.

Kansas guard Elijah Johnson defends against a drive by Oklahoma State guard Keiton Page during the first half on Thursday, March 10, 2011 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City.

Kansas guard Elijah Johnson defends against a drive by Oklahoma State guard Keiton Page during the first half on Thursday, March 10, 2011 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City. by Nick Krug

The Jayhawks were above their season average in offensive rebounding percentage (39.1 percent, compared to 36.4 percent), thanks to an outstanding effort from Marcus Morris, who posted a season-high nine offensive rebounds.

KU also took care of the basketball, turning it over on just 12.9 percent of its possessions — its third-lowest percentage this season.

Though shooting is the biggest determining factor in which team wins or loses games, it isn't the only factor.

On Thursday, the Jayhawks' rebounding, sure-handedness and second-half defense saved them on a day when the shots simply would not fall.

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KUsports.com giveaways planned at Power & Light District during Big 12 Tournament Fan Fest

10:22 a.m. update

We've finished our live stream, but we'll put up video from it later. For now, we're going to take some pictures and get setup for our live stream of the fans inside Johnny's Tavern at Power and Light — during the game.

Check back later for photos, video plus Jesse Newell's live game blog.

Our first post:

Thursday morning, KUsports.com will be coming at you live from the Power & Light district before we come at you live from the Sprint Center.

KU has a pep rally planned starting at 9:55 a.m. and KUsports.com will bring it to you via live streaming video, starting about 9:45 a.m. Then, beginning a few minutes before tip-off, we'll be offering a live video stream of you all, the fans, from inside Johnny's Tavern at Power and Light district. We'll also have our KUsports.com tent inside, handing out cups, coasters, books and other KUsports.com and KU swag.

After the game, we'll be setup in the heart of the live block, taking pictures of KU fans, giving you a place to check your Facebook pages and — of course — handing out more goodies.

If you'd like to bend Tom Keegan's ear about his latest column, or pick up a tip from ace photographer Nick Krug, they'll be swinging by the KUsports.com tent after the game ends. If you're at the Power and Light district during the game, make sure you come over to our tent.

And check back RIGHT HERE at 9:45 a.m. for live video of the pep rally.

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KUsports.com has you covered — from Kansas City to Tulsa (?) and maybe even, possibly, could it be, Houston; details on KUsports Bracket Challenge revealed

With the Big 12 Tournament literally days away, KUsports.com is about to kick its coverage into high gear.

Today, we're unveiling our Men's Big 12 Tournament and NCAA Tournament homepages. Bookmark them today, as they're going to get a lot more interesting over the next week or three.

In addition to all the coverage we're going to offer here — videos, blogs, stories, photos — we're also excited to announce details on one long-running tradition and one that's a little younger.

http://www2.kusports.com/photos/2010/mar/12/188457/

First, this week, we're excited to announce KUsports.com is returning to the Power & Light district to be part of the pre-tournament Fan Fest. Stop be our tent for free stuff, to sign up for our KU scoring text messages and e-mail alerts, as well as meet and talk to members of our staff. We expect Tom Keegan, Jesse Newell, Nick Nelson, Nick Krug and Matt Tait — among others — to stop by before or after KU's games. In addition, we're also excited to announce that we'll be moving our Big 12 tournament party inside Johnny's Tavern during the game. We'll have a live fan cam from Johnny's that we'll be embedding on the side of our KUsports.com live game coverage.

If you're going to be down in Power & Light, make sure you stop by.

The second announcement pertains to the KUsports.com Bracket Challenge. This year, we're going to take the changes the NCAA is making as a chance to make some of our own. In years past, you haven't had to choose the winner of the play-in game. This year, with four play-in games, you will. So that means the contest will only be open from Sunday night through Tuesday night. Come back to KUsports.com after the brackets are announced and make sure you enter for a chance to win a plasma HDTV, courtesy of Kief's, here in Lawrence. Presenting sponsors for this year's bracket contest include Henry T's, Brotherhood Bank, Lynn Electric, Crown Automotive and Intrust Bank.

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Cliff’s Notes: Bill Self press conference, 3/7/11

Here is the Cliff's Notes version of Kansas men's basketball coach Bill Self's comments at his press conference today.

If you want to get live updates from each week's press conference, be sure to follow us on Twitter (@kusports).

Marcus Morris deserves Big 12 player of the year. Self says you could argue for others, but he has been the most consistent. Self hasn't spoken to him since he won the award yet. Last year, Self saw he could become this type of performer. You could make the case he was KU's most consistent performer all last year. It doesn't surprise Self that he's taken another step forward this year.

• Any time you play, you might as well play to win. Self doesn't buy the theory that KU shouldn't be motivated for the Big 12 Tournament because it's already probably locked into a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. KU is playing in K.C. and playing against rivals. The Jayhawks' goal is to win the tournament. The team's biggest goal is to get better.

• The last two games have better prepared KU for the NCAA Tournament. KU hasn't played well offensively the last two games. Those were Big Ten-type games. Self likes those kind of games. Self likes making shots, but making shots sometimes is Fool's Gold.

There's no question KU would like another shot at Kansas State and Texas. But other teams like Nebraska would like another shot at KU. It works both ways.

Elijah Johnson has been good defensively. He's went from a guy Self didn't think could slide defensively to KU's best on-ball defender. KU got 43 good minutes out of its point-guard play against Missouri, when you combine Johnson's and Tyshawn Taylor's minutes.

It's a hard time of the year to let a guy play through mistakes. Josh Selby needs to see the ball go through the hoop. He's practiced well. He just needs to continue to grind and have a good attitude. The ball will go down. He can still be a guy this year like Sasha Kaun was against Davidson or Cole Aldrich was against North Carolina in the 2008 NCAA Tournament.

Selby is wearing a brace on his foot that goes all the way around it. It's uncomfortable, but other people have had to play with it. Self thinks his health has messed with him this year. He still practices full-time, though.

Tyrel Reed only practices on the day before games. He may shoot two days before a game, but he won't do much more than that. He needs surgery after the season. He has a bad heel. It's enough to bug him.

No one can fault Selby's toughness. The coaches know he's not comfortable. He's out there fighting, though.

• Playing three games in three days could be a factor for Reed's heel, but Self will play it by ear. He won't do anything to jeopardize his future.

Self doesn't have a preference on who KU plays Thursday, whether it's Nebraska or Oklahoma State. KU wil work on itself on Monday, then a little bit on those two teams on Tuesday. Wednesday night, KU will focus in on the team that wins.

Self likes that KU has a lot of fans at the Big 12 Tournament in K.C. It's also a big deal to the people in K.C. You get unbelievable crowds there. The interest level is high.

Self likes Pat Knight and likes his staff a lot. They're good people. There have to be reasons why administrators do what they do. Self doesn't know why Tech couldn't wait a few days to fire Knight, but he's sure there's a reason. He hopes Tech's players play hard for their coaches on Wednesday.

KU is 62-5 in the last two years, and it hasn't celebrated yet. It won the Big 12 title outright at Missouri, but didn't celebrate much. Self thinks he's done a poor job with his team about always thinking next game. His players have become robotic. The Big 12 title is a big deal. A lot of places would be cutting down nets, and these guys think that winning the Big 12 title is what they're supposed to do.

Self is proud of his guys. He knows he has to do a better job of showing the guys how much he appreciates their efforts, because their efforts have been unbelievable. These guys have done some things as far as wins go that he couldn't have imagined in his wildest dreams.

KU didn't cut nets after the Big 12 Tournament championship game last year. He's sure the players celebrated, but not in the way many teams do. If KU gets in that position again, he might handle that differently.

Self thinks two league titles in the seven-year stretch that were most impressive were when Brandon Rush and Julian Wright were freshmen in 2005-06 (and KU started 1-2) and 2008-09, the year after the title team.

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Recap: 10 statistical oddities from KU’s win over Missouri

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.

Going to go a little different direction with the start of this blog, as lots of quirky things happened during Kansas' 70-66 victory over Missouri on Saturday.

Kansas head coach Bill Self protests a call against the Jayhawks during the second half on Saturday, March 5, 2011 at Mizzou Arena.

Kansas head coach Bill Self protests a call against the Jayhawks during the second half on Saturday, March 5, 2011 at Mizzou Arena. by Nick Krug

Here are 10 interesting facts about the KU-MU game on Saturday:

• Missouri's effective field goal percentage of 31.9 was its worst in the last 11 seasons. The last time the Tigers shot that poorly in a game was Jan. 4, 2000, against Winthrop.

• Missouri's 0.868 points per possession against KU were its second-fewest this season. Texas allowed 0.866 PPP to MU on Jan. 29.

KU scored just 0.92 points per possession against MU — its third-lowest total of the year. KU scored fewer PPP at Michigan (0.91) and at home against Texas (0.88). KU has had four games when it has failed to score one point per possession and is 2-2 in those games.

MU, which averaged 20 free throws per game in Big 12 play, shot 35 free throws Saturday. It was the most the Tigers had shot all season, topping the 31 free throws it attempted against Georgetown in an overtime game.

Missouri also posted its highest free-throw rate (FTs attempted*100/FGs attempted) of the year at 60.3. MU's previous high this year was 50.8 against Nebraska on Jan. 12. During Big 12 play, the Tigers' free-throw rate ranked 11th in the conference (34.2).

The Tigers scored 43.9 percent of their points from the free-throw line Saturday. MU averages scoring 19 percent of its points from the line.

• Missouri scored at least one point on just 38.6 percent of its possessions — its lowest mark in the last three seasons.

It was only the second time all season that KU's defense did not record a blocked shot. The other game was Michigan on Jan. 9. KU has only had eight games where it hasn't recorded a block in the last 15 seasons.

• KU's game against Missouri had 76 possessions, the second-most for the Jayhawks in Big 12 play. Only the game at Iowa State (81 possessions) had more.

Hat tip to Rock M Nation for this one: KU forwards Marcus Morris, Markieff Morris and Thomas Robinson combined for 46 points on 17-for-29 shooting (58.6 percent). The rest of the Jayhawks combined for 24 points on 7-for-26 shooting (26.9 percent).

We'll talk more about what the win means for KU in the "Bottom Line" below.

M.O.J. (Most Outstanding Jayhawk)

Thomas Robinson earns this honor even if we only took into account his rebounding.

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson finishes a put-back dunk over Missouri forward Laurence Bowers during the second half on Saturday, March 5, 2011 at Mizzou Arena.

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson finishes a put-back dunk over Missouri forward Laurence Bowers during the second half on Saturday, March 5, 2011 at Mizzou Arena. by Nick Krug

The 6-foot-9 sophomore posted 13 rebounds in just 17 minutes, which made for some crazy statistics.

He brought down 47 percent of the available offensive rebounds when he was in there. To put that in perspective, the best offensive rebounding team in the nation (Old Dominion) has a team offensive rebounding percentage of 45.2 percent. On Saturday, Robinson's number was better than that, and he's only one guy.

Robinson's second-best offensive rebounding percentage day this year was the Oklahoma game, where he grabbed 34.7 percent of KU's misses. So Robinson, an already good offensive rebounder, topped his best day this year by 12.3 percent on Saturday.

Robinson also grabbed a team-high 32.8 percent of the available defensive rebounds while adding 15 points on 6-for-8 shooting to go with three turnovers. He had 13 points and eight rebounds in the second half alone.

Room for Improvement

Pretty obvious, isn't it?

Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor pushes the ball to forward Mario Little as he is pressured by Missouri defenders Laurence Bowers and Michael Dixon (11) during the first half on Saturday, March 5, 2011 at Mizzou Arena.

Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor pushes the ball to forward Mario Little as he is pressured by Missouri defenders Laurence Bowers and Michael Dixon (11) during the first half on Saturday, March 5, 2011 at Mizzou Arena. by Nick Krug

The Jayhawks couldn't keep from turning the ball over, giving it away on 31.6 percent of their possessions.

It was KU's 10th-highest turnover percentage in the last 15 years and the highest of the season.

The most surprising thing to me about KU's turnovers is where they came from. I would have expected a handful of turnovers from new starting point guard Elijah Johnson and the sometimes-careless Tyshawn Taylor, but both of KU's point guards weren't part of the problem.

Kansas guard Elijah Johnson and Missouri guard Phil Pressey chase down a loose ball during the second half on Saturday, March 5, 2011 at Mizzou Arena.

Kansas guard Elijah Johnson and Missouri guard Phil Pressey chase down a loose ball during the second half on Saturday, March 5, 2011 at Mizzou Arena. by Nick Krug

Johnson had no turnovers in 25 minutes, while Taylor had just one in 17 minutes.

Instead it was KU's big men (Marcus Morris 5, Markieff Morris 5, Robinson 3) and typically sure-handed guards (Brady Morningstar 4, Tyrel Reed 3) who contributed the most to the turnover count (though Josh Selby's three in seven minutes didn't help either).

I think we expected KU to turn the ball over on Saturday, but not quite at that pace. Though MU's defense deserves some credit and the atmosphere makes things more difficult, the Jayhawks did not handle the circumstances well and made too many unforced mistakes.

Tough-Luck Line

Josh Selby takes the Tough-Luck Line, and one has to wonder where he'll go from here.

Kansas forward Markieff Morris (21) and a game official watch as Josh Selby loses the ball out of bounds for a turnover against Missouri during the first half on Saturday, March 5, 2011 at Mizzou Arena.

Kansas forward Markieff Morris (21) and a game official watch as Josh Selby loses the ball out of bounds for a turnover against Missouri during the first half on Saturday, March 5, 2011 at Mizzou Arena. by Nick Krug

The freshman looked completely frazzled against Missouri, posting three turnovers in seven first-half minutes before getting pulled. Selby did not play in the second half.

Before Saturday's game, I had heard some sentiment from KU fans that Selby should play point guard. That argument won't be made any more, as Selby couldn't seem to complete even simple passes when he was the team's main ball-handler against Missouri.

The Baltimore native posted just 0.11 points per possession used while ending a whopping 30 percent of KU's possessions while he was in there. As Tom Keegan pointed out, Selby has made just 9 of his last 34 field goals (26.5 percent) and 2 of his last 15 threes (13.3 percent).

KU is running out of time to have Selby find himself this season. Right now, the reality is that he's KU's ninth- or 10th-best player, despite all the hype coming in.

It'll be interesting to track him in the Big 12 Tournament, as he has more to gain than any other Jayhawk.

Bottom Line

Is it too early to say KU's strength, right now, might actually be its defense?

Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor jumps as he defends drive by Missouri guard Marcus Denmon during the second half on Saturday, March 5, 2011 at Mizzou Arena.

Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor jumps as he defends drive by Missouri guard Marcus Denmon during the second half on Saturday, March 5, 2011 at Mizzou Arena. by Nick Krug

Though KU had its third-worst offensive effort of the year, it still beat Missouri because of a tremendous defensive performance.

The Jayhawks have held four of their last five opponents under 0.88 PPP. In KU's previous 11 Big 12 games, it held none of its opponents to under 0.88 PPP.

Right now, KU is fourth nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency and seventh in adjusted defensive efficiency. Only one other team (Duke) is in the top 10 in both categories.

Forget the earlier criticisms of KU's defense. KU has rounded itself into a more balanced team over the last two weeks, and that has to be encouraging for its NCAA Tournament hopes.

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10 Reasons…

10 Reasons to attend the Kansas Women’s Basketball game versus K-State Saturday in Allen Field House

10) Senior Night

9) Creating a home court advantage at Allen Field House against K-State

8) Krysten Boogard, a senior center, who also plays on the Canadian national team.

7) Tania Jackson, a Lawrence, KS native.

6) Aishah Sutherland, an amazingly athletic forward

5) Diara Moore, an excellent rebounding guard

4) Keena Mays, one of the most exciting point guards the Lady Jayhawks have ever had

3) Monica Engelman, a shooting guard that can make the clutch shots

2) Angel Goodrich, our assist leader and floor general

Reason #1) Carolyn Davis, a player that could easily be All-Big 12, if not an All-American.

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Recap: I thought that game looked familiar, Part II

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.

One of the first comments Kansas coach Bill Self made after KU's 64-51 victory over Texas A&M on Wednesday was that the game had no rhythm.

So many times this year, the Jayhawks have won pretty. The ball moves, the jumpshots go in, players feel good about themselves and KU runs away with a victory.

Wednesday wasn't like that. The Morris twins missed shots they normally make. Markieff even joked to his brother Marcus that he was going to check if there was something on the top of the rim.

Kansas forward Markieff Morris turns for a shot over Texas A&M forward Kourtney Roberson during the first half on Wednesday, March 2, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Markieff Morris turns for a shot over Texas A&M forward Kourtney Roberson during the first half on Wednesday, March 2, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

That kind of game — slow-it-down, muddied-up — is the kind of environment that Self wanted to see his team succeed in.

I found it interesting that KU's numbers last night — low possessions, below-average offensive output — were very close to another game. Take a look.

While KU's 59 possessions were the lowest for this season, the 62 possessions in Game X tied for the second-lowest that season.

Any guesses?

Here's another clue.

With almost identical possession and offensive numbers, KU won the Texas A&M game by 13, yet lost Game X by two.

Kansas guard Elijah Johnson gets up for an alley-oop jam against Texas A&M during the second half on Wednesday, March 2, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Elijah Johnson gets up for an alley-oop jam against Texas A&M during the second half on Wednesday, March 2, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Turns out last night's game was very similar to an NCAA Tournament game at the end of last season.

Game X is KU vs. Northern Iowa last year.

The good news for KU fans is that the Jayhawks found a formula to win on a night when the game was sluggish and the possessions were low.

Brady Morningstar (12) celebrates a three-point basket during the Kansas Jayhawks 64-51 win against Texas A&M Wednesday, March 2, 2011. It was the last home game for KU.

Brady Morningstar (12) celebrates a three-point basket during the Kansas Jayhawks 64-51 win against Texas A&M Wednesday, March 2, 2011. It was the last home game for KU. by Mike Yoder

So how did KU do it?

Take a look.

For one, the Jayhawks locked down defensively, holding Texas A&M to nearly five percent below its eFG% season average (49.5 percent).

KU also was able to "out-possession" A&M by dominating in turnovers.

Tyrel Reed, Brady Morningstar and Elijah Johnson pressured the Texas A&M guards all over the floor, and that sticky defense led to the Aggies' highest turnover percentage in their last four seasons.

Kansas guard Tyrel Reed dives for a loose ball with Texas A&M guard Dash Harris during the first half on Wednesday, March 2, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Tyrel Reed dives for a loose ball with Texas A&M guard Dash Harris during the first half on Wednesday, March 2, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

It also helped that KU was well below its season average for turnover percentage (15.3 percent, compared to 18.9 percent), unlike the UNI game, when KU was well over its season average (24.2 percent, compared to 18.7 percent).

Texas A&M might have just done KU a favor, giving the Jayhawks a taste of the style of game that will surely come sometime in the tournament.

KU passed Wednesday's mid-term. Now, the Jayhawks will just have to keep their notes in case that same type of game shows up on the final exam.

M.O.J. (Most Outstanding Jayhawk)

Fittingly, Brady Morningstar takes the M.O.J. honor on his Senior night.

The Lawrence native was 3-for-3 from the floor and 2-for-2 from three, posting nine points during his perfect shooting game from the floor.

He also dished out 20.8 percent of KU's assists while he was on the floor while contributing to the Jayhawks' stifling on-ball defense.

Morningstar, who had four second-half steals, came away with steals on 7.3 percent of his defensive possessions in the game. That number was second on the team behind Tyrel Reed (8.2 percent).

Though Morningstar's usage was extremely low (3.6 percent), he still managed to get plenty of offensive production out of the shots he did take while limiting his turnovers and playing great defense.

Room for Improvement

KU struggled to rebound against Texas A&M on both ends of the court.

Kansas forward Markieff Morris pulls away a rebound from the Texas A&M defense during the second half on Wednesday, March 2, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Markieff Morris pulls away a rebound from the Texas A&M defense during the second half on Wednesday, March 2, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

The Jayhawks grabbed just 63.3 percent of the available defensive rebounds (their fifth-lowest mark of the year) and just 27.3 percent of the available offensive rebounds (their sixth-worst mark of the season.

To be fair, Texas A&M came in as the ninth-best offensive rebounding team in the nation according to KenPom, tracking down 38.4 percent of the available offensive rebounds this season. So the Aggies' 36.7 percent offensive rebounding percentage was actually still below their season average.

Still, KU should expect to put up a better fight on the boards, even if it is against a good rebounding team. Markieff Morris — the Big 12's leading rebounder — had just three rebounds in 30 minutes, while no Jayhawk had more than five rebounds.

Luckily for KU, this shouldn't be a lingering problem, as the Jayhawks face one of the worst rebounding teams in the conference (Missouri) on Saturday — a team KU outrebounded 38-21 in the teams' first matchup.

Tough-Luck Line

Mario Little takes this distinction following a poor shooting night.

Kansas forward Mario Little plays to the crowd during the player introductions prior to tipoff against Texas A&M on Wednesday, March 2, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Mario Little plays to the crowd during the player introductions prior to tipoff against Texas A&M on Wednesday, March 2, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

In his 15 minutes, Little was 0-for-5 from the floor and 0-for-3 from three. He posted just 0.16 points per possession used while ending 18 percent of KU's possessions while he was out there.

The Chicago native's lone statistical highlight was his defensive rebounding, as he came away with 26.6 percent of the available defensive rebounds.

That still wasn't enough to make up for his errant shooting on Wednesday.

Bottom Line

Give credit to KU for avoiding fouls, something the Jayhawks haven't always done well this season.

Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor knocks the ball away from Texas A&M forward Naji Hibbert during the first half on Wednesday, March 2, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor knocks the ball away from Texas A&M forward Naji Hibbert during the first half on Wednesday, March 2, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Though KU was up to seven team fouls at just under the 12-minute mark of the second half, the Jayhawks had just one foul the rest of the way.

That defensive effort also came against a Texas A&M team that is good at getting to the free-throw line. The Aggies' free-throw rate (FTs attempted*100/FGs attempted) of 46.0 ranks 28th nationally.

A&M's free-throw rate on Wednesday night was 20.8 — its lowest of the season. The Aggies' 10 free throws attempted also was their lowest total in the last two years.

KU's 0.86 points per possession allowed on defense was its best performance of the Big 12 season. In three of the Jayhawks' last four games, they've given up fewer than 0.88 PPP.

Though the Jayhawks like to play pretty, they showed they could win ugly on Wednesday by tightening up the defense and forcing turnovers.

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Cliff’s Notes: Bill Self press conference, 2/28/11

Here is the Cliff's Notes version of Kansas men's basketball coach Bill Self's comments at his press conference today.

If you want to get live updates from each week's press conference, be sure to follow us on Twitter (@kusports).

Full audio has been posted.

Tyrel Reed and Brady Morningstar have been great. Morningstar lived down the street in Lawrence, and Self didn't make a home visit. He only saw him play one time in high school. KU knew it was going to take Morningstar before he went to prep school, but Morningstar still decided to keep his commitment to the prep school first. He's pretty much been a three-year starter for KU.

Reed was highly recruited. KU hesitated, and Self finally decided to offer him because he was a great kid and would be great for the program. He's been both.

Eddie Sutton is deserving of making the College Hall of Fame (He was announced to be in the next class Monday). Self is happy for him. In Self's mind, it helps validate what has been a Hall of Fame career.

With Mario Little, Self will remember how he came in as a heralded player, and he had to fight through injuries. He's a team guy. He's a Self kind of guy. He's going to graduate, as he has three hours left. You can almost lump Reed and Morningstar together. Reed didn't get Self's personality when he first got here, but he does now. Morningstar is as much a personality as anyone on the team. Self will miss him.

Reed is a perfectionist. He's too hard on himself. He probably gets that from being a coach's kid.

• Senior Night is a celebration of three guys' career. One game doesn't capture what their careers have been. There will be a time that Senior Night does not go as scripted. Self hopes that doesn't happen soon. But if it does, you have to adjust. You have to adjust in life no matter what. KU looks at it as Senior Night giving the Jayhawks an extra boost.

• Reed is a remarkable young man. He'd tell you that KU has high-character guys everywhere in KU's locker room. In Self's opinion, during midseason, Reed was the face of the program. He's been the rock.

The way KU plays is pretty balanced. Reed and Morningstar understand that balance. They don't care how many shots they get. Self joked that Little is different, as he likes to shoot it. Everybody has a role. Self learned from Sutton that every player is a role player.

• Little's role is to give KU a boost off the bench and score if need be. Self joked that he tries his hardest to oblige. Little also brings toughness.

• If guys are open, they need to shoot it. Morningstar and Reed might turn down more looks than they should.

Obviously, KU and Texas have two huge games left each. It's nice to be in a situation where KU can control its own destiny. This might be the toughest week KU has had all year.

Self doesn't know if KU fans appreciate conference titles as much as other schools' fans. When Self was at Illinois, and the Illini won the league title, 3,000 people were waiting at the airport. People here take league titles a little more for granted. They look more to the NCAA Tournament. Self would be disappointed if KU wasn't in this position in the conference, because this is a good team. It's a big deal. It's not as big as the NCAA Tournament, but it's a bigger deal than a lot of people think it is.

Texas A&M is well-coached. Mark Turgeon is doing a great job. The Aggies don't beat themselves.

Tyshawn Taylor's status hasn't been decided. KU has played pretty well without Tyshawn. Self said we'll have to wait and see on his status.

Self doesn't think the details of Taylor's suspension should be made public. If Self has a problem with his son or daughter, he's not going to the neighbors with it. Coaches don't want to embarrass their guys. That's not something they want to do. Self has heard some of the rumors, and he hasn't heard one that was well-thought-out. Self wants to please his players much more than he does the fans. He wants the players to know that some things will stay in the locker room.

Morningstar is as good as anybody at taking care of the ball. Taylor has been good. Johnson has been great the last two games as well. He won't start on Senior Day as the seniors will start, but Johnson will be the first guard off the bench. If the NCAA Tournament started tomorrow, Johnson would be KU's starting point guard.

The twins have done a good job. They've both been vocal. They've both been leaders, and they've both been playing at high levels.

Self hasn't talked to Sherron Collins since he was released from Charlotte.

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Recap: If Bill Self believes in plus-minus, then one Jayhawk deserves more minutes

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.

Kansas coach Bill Self made an interesting statement last week when talking about which players earn the most minutes.

He said that most bench players believe they have to make a great play to get additional minutes, though often that's not the best way.

Kansas head coach Bill Self protests a call during the first half on Saturday, Feb. 26, 2011 at the Lloyd Noble Center in Norman, Okla.

Kansas head coach Bill Self protests a call during the first half on Saturday, Feb. 26, 2011 at the Lloyd Noble Center in Norman, Okla. by Nick Krug

"When they're in the game, the (score) differential either goes up or down," Self said. "That's what determines if they stay in or not."

In essence, it sounds like Self is using a basic form of the statistic known as "plus/minus" to help determine which players stay in the game.

"Plus/minus" is simply the point differential for a team when a certain player is in the game.

It has its limitations and also outspoken critics, which include Ken Pomeroy himself.

Still, if this is something that Self uses for his evaluation, I think it's something that's at least worth exploring.

The reason I bring it up today is because KU's 82-70 victory over Oklahoma had some crazy plus-minus splits.

Obviously, KU's biggest storyline right now is its point guard play, as Elijah Johnson has started the last two games, with previous starter Tyshawn Taylor likely to return from suspension in the next week.

So should Johnson remain as the starter?

If Self is looking at all at the plus-minus numbers — especially from the OU game — he might be tempted to give Johnson another start.

Kansas guard Elijah Johnson laughs with his teammates after Oklahoma head coach Jeff Capel was called for a technical foul during the second half on Saturday, Feb. 26, 2011 at the Lloyd Noble Center in Norman, Okla.

Kansas guard Elijah Johnson laughs with his teammates after Oklahoma head coach Jeff Capel was called for a technical foul during the second half on Saturday, Feb. 26, 2011 at the Lloyd Noble Center in Norman, Okla. by Nick Krug

From the advanced box score, here are the plus-minus numbers from the KU guards in Saturday's Oklahoma game.

Elijah Johnson +23 (16 minutes)
Brady Morningstar +12 (36 minutes)
Tyrel Reed +12 (32 minutes)
Josh Selby -10 (27 minutes)

Again, I want to warn again against making any grand conclusions about these numbers. Pomeroy is even quoted in the blog above saying single-game plus-minus numbers are "useless."

Still, if Self is looking for whether the differential is going up or down when Johnson is in the game, his answer was pretty clear Saturday: KU's differential was going way, way up.

Morris brothers Markieff (back), and Marcus (right) help their teammate Elijah Johnson up off the floor after a hard foul during the second half against Oklahoma on Saturday, Feb. 26, 2011 at the Lloyd Noble Center in Norman, Okla.

Morris brothers Markieff (back), and Marcus (right) help their teammate Elijah Johnson up off the floor after a hard foul during the second half against Oklahoma on Saturday, Feb. 26, 2011 at the Lloyd Noble Center in Norman, Okla. by Nick Krug

If we break it down further, KU's offense was most remarkable during Johnson's 16 minutes, scoring 46 points (2.9 points per minute). For comparison, in Selby's 27 minutes, KU only scored 40 points (1.5 points per minute).

Again, this isn't to say Johnson is KU's best offensive player or Selby is terrible or anything like that.

I think it could indicate, though, that KU's offense was probably running pretty well with Johnson in against OU, but with both Taylor and Johnson out, KU's offense wasn't as effective without a true point guard in the game.

In case you were wondering, Johnson's plus-minus was good against OSU as well (+20 in 30 minutes). Again, KU's offense appeared to be effective with him in, as KU scored 72 points in his 30 minutes (2.4 points per minute).

The bottom line? If Self does indeed take score differential into account when making decisions on playing time, Johnson has made a strong case to remain as KU's starting point guard.

M.O.J. (Most Outstanding Jayhawk)

Though their final lines were almost identical, Marcus Morris edges out his brother, Markieff, for M.O.J. honors.

Oklahoma forward C.J. Washington defends Kansas forward Marcus Morris during the second half on Saturday, Feb. 26, 2011 at the Lloyd Noble Center in Norman, Okla.

Oklahoma forward C.J. Washington defends Kansas forward Marcus Morris during the second half on Saturday, Feb. 26, 2011 at the Lloyd Noble Center in Norman, Okla. by Nick Krug

Marcus continued his string of remarkable efficiency, posting 1.61 points per possession used while ending 23.8 percent of KU's possessions. On 85.6 percent of the possessions he ended, KU scored at least one point.

For comparison purposes, Markieff posted 1.47 points per possession used while ending 26.7 percent of KU's possessions. KU scored at least one point on 79.6 percent of the possessions Markieff ended.

Marcus also was steady on the boards, grabbing 21 percent of the available offensive rebounds and 21.6 percent of the available defensive rebounds.

His final line also was helped by free throws, as he attempted the same number of free throws as field goals (10) and also made 8 of his 10 attempts from the stripe.

After Texas guard Jordan Hamilton's rough game against Colorado (7-for-24 shooting), Marcus could be sneaking into position to make a run for Big 12 player of the year.

Room for Improvement

It's time to be a bit concerned about KU's inability to force turnovers defensively.

Kansas guard Brady Morningstar defends a pass from Oklahoma guard Calvin Newell Jr. during the first half on Saturday, Feb. 26, 2011 at the Lloyd Noble Center in Norman, Okla.

Kansas guard Brady Morningstar defends a pass from Oklahoma guard Calvin Newell Jr. during the first half on Saturday, Feb. 26, 2011 at the Lloyd Noble Center in Norman, Okla. by Nick Krug

Oklahoma turned it over on just 9.8 percent of its possessions against KU on Saturday — the lowest turnover percentage for the Sooners in any game this year. It also was the Jayhawks' second-lowest defensive turnover percentage of the season.

KU's defensive turnover numbers have dropped significantly in the last few games. The Jayhawks' defensive turnover percentage this year is 20.9 percent, and KU's opponents have finished under that percentage in seven of the last eight games.

According to KenPom, KU has a 18.3 percent defensive turnover percentage in Big 12 play, which ranks ninth in the conference.

Part of Self's excitement for this season was the belief that his fast and athletic team could put more defensive pressure on opponents. Lately, the Jayhawks haven't been doing much to force opponents into mistakes, though, and that's been just part of the problem for a KU defense that isn't as strong as it was earlier in the season.

Tough-Luck Line

Thomas Robinson picks up the "Tough-Luck Line" after a high-turnover game.

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson regains his footing as he lands on the back of Oklahoma guard Carl Blair Jr. during the first half on Saturday, Feb. 26, 2011 at the Lloyd Noble Center in Norman, Okla.

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson regains his footing as he lands on the back of Oklahoma guard Carl Blair Jr. during the first half on Saturday, Feb. 26, 2011 at the Lloyd Noble Center in Norman, Okla. by Nick Krug

Robinson was the only Jayhawk that scored who posted less than one point per possession used (0.49) while consuming a team-high 39.3 percent of his team's possessions while he was in.

When Robinson struggles, it's usually because of turnovers, and Saturday was no exception. The 6-foot-9 forward had a team-high four turnovers in just 10 minutes, including one stretch where he had three giveaways in a stretch of four possessions.

Though Robinson had a tough day overall, he should be commended for his rebounding. He came away with 34.7 percent of the available offensive rebounds and 42.8 percent of the available defensive rebounds, providing value on the glass even when he was careless on the offensive end.

Bottom Line

Saturday's game, like a few others in the past month, was one where KU's offense played at such a high level that is made up for a poor defensive effort.

Kansas forward Markieff Morris dunks on the Oklahoma defense during the second half on Saturday, Feb. 26, 2011 at the Lloyd Noble Center in Norman, Okla.

Kansas forward Markieff Morris dunks on the Oklahoma defense during the second half on Saturday, Feb. 26, 2011 at the Lloyd Noble Center in Norman, Okla. by Nick Krug

The Jayhawks, who posted 1.50 points per possession in the first half, ended the game with 1.34 PPP — their second-best offensive effort in their last 11 games (and their last 11 games have been filled with good offensive efforts).

KU was especially good on the offensive glass, as when the Jayhawks missed a shot, they actually grabbed a higher percentage of the rebounds (52.2 percent) than the Sooners. OU's 47.8 percent defensive rebounding percentage was its lowest number of the year.

Playing in a low-possession game, though (61 possessions), KU's defense was subpar. OU put up 1.15 PPP — the Sooners' best offensive game in Big 12 play. In fact, in each of the Sooners' previous five games, they'd failed to score 1 PPP; their best game in that stretch was 0.98 PPP effort at home against Nebraska.

OU put up the impressive offensive showing without getting many second-chance opportunities. The Sooners grabbed just 17.9 percent of the available offensive rebounds (six in all), but still was able to get good production by limiting turnovers, making shots and getting to the free-throw line.

After holding its previous two opponents to 0.88 PPP at home, KU's wasn't as good on the road against Oklahoma.

The Jayhawks played more than half the game without a true point guard in, though, so we'll see if Johnson and perhaps Taylor give a boost to the defense when KU plays Texas A&M on Wednesday.

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Cliff’s Notes: Bill Self press conference, 2/24/11

Here is the Cliff's Notes version of Kansas men's basketball coach Bill Self's comments at his press conference today.

If you want to get live updates from each week's press conference, be sure to follow us on Twitter (@kusports).

Full audio has been posted.

• Elijah Johnson will start Saturday. He's going to be starting with Tyrel Reed and Brady Morningstar.

KU wouldn't be dodging bullets as well as it has with injuries if Reed and Morningstar had missed time. Morningstar's stats in conference play are a joke, with his 52-to-7 assist-to-turnover ratio. He's also leading the Big 12 in three-point shooting percentage. Reed and Morningstar allow other players to be great without ego getting involved. It doesn't matter if Reed or Morningstar take three or 15 shots — that doesn't even register with them.

This year has surpassed, record-wise, what Self thought it could be this year. Self didn't anticipate losing all the players it lost and still being 26-2. The disappointing thing to Self is that his team lost a tough game at home to Texas. You usually don't run the table on the road.

• Thomas Robinson is doing great with his knee. Mentally, Robinson is close to 100 percent. Knee-wise, he's probably 90 percent. He should gradually play more and more each game.

With Tyshawn Taylor not playing, Johnson knew he was going to play a lot on Monday. It helps a lot if you don't have to look over your shoulder. He's more of a bench-watcher than Self would like, as he wants to please, but he often looks to see if he's coming out. He did a fabulous job on guarding Oklahoma State's Keiton Page. He had two screw-ups in 30 minutes; that's great. He made shots because he wasn't worried about hitting shots. Too many players worry about needing to score. He was worried about the right things on Monday.

Regardless of what happens, KU has proven it can take some hits personnel-wise and move forward. Only four guys for KU have had great seasons: the twins, Reed and Morningstar. Very rarely is there a case where everybody plays their best all the time. Other players have played great when they've needed to. KU can absorb some things when things aren't going well.

• So much of playing well late is being healthy. Self hopes that KU is peaking at the right time, though he doesn't think there's a magic formula. KU can still take another step to get all its players playing how Self knows they can play.

• Self doesn't think that Taylor will play this weekend. Self doesn't talk about Taylor's suspension with him. Taylor cares. He knows he screwed up.

Oklahoma coach Jeff Capel has done a great job of helping the Sooners improve. They're a different team than they were even just a month or a month and a half ago.

OU was Self's least-favorite team growing up. His feelings were much like how KU fans feel about Kansas State or Missouri.

Self said OU didn't recruit him. The coach joked that OU already had a slow point guard.

• Self likes OU's Cade Davis. He can get on a roll and make shots. Andrew Fitzgerald is Robinson's high-school teammate. Self thinks OU is good defensively.

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Recap: In dominant effort, don’t overlook KU’s defensive rebounding

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.

Here's how you know that Kansas is playing some pretty good basketball.

After sitting down at the press conference table Monday night, Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford couldn't stop gushing about KU's offense.

And OSU forward Marshall Moses couldn't stop talking about KU's defense.

Both had good points following KU's 92-65 victory over OSU.

The Jayhawks' offense, once again, was its normal efficient self.

KU scored 1.24 points per possession, topping the 1.23 PPP mark for the eighth time in its last nine games.

“They’re just as good an offensive team that I’ve seen in a very, very long time,” Ford said.

The crazy thing? The 1.24 PPP was only the Jayhawks' fourth-best in their last seven games. So not only did Ford not see KU's best offense on Monday, he didn't even see an above-average performance for the Jayhawks in their last seven games.

Marcus (22) and Markieff Morris (21) celebrate a blocked dunk by Marcus against Oklahoma State during the first half on Monday, Feb. 21, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Marcus (22) and Markieff Morris (21) celebrate a blocked dunk by Marcus against Oklahoma State during the first half on Monday, Feb. 21, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Meanwhile, KU's defense posted its second straight impressive performance, almost exactly matching its defensive numbers from Saturday.

Against Colorado, KU allowed 0.875 PPP; Against OSU on Monday, KU allowed 0.878 PPP.

Though the CU effort was better (the Buffaloes are a better offensive team than the Cowboys), Monday's performance was still a sign of progress for KU's much-maligned defense. The Jayhawks' last two defensive games, points-per-possession-wise, have been their best over the past 13 contests.

Also, OSU's floor percentage (the percentage of possessions it scored at least one point) was just 38.7 percent, the team's lowest mark since the 2008-09 season (when it lost to KU, 78-67).

Marcus Morris (left) and Travis Releford tangle with Oklahoma State's Marshall Moses during the first half Monday, Feb. 21, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Marcus Morris (left) and Travis Releford tangle with Oklahoma State's Marshall Moses during the first half Monday, Feb. 21, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Kevin Anderson

"If you make a mistake offensively, they make you pay for it," Moses said.

Even without Tyshawn Taylor and a fully healthy Josh Selby, Travis Releford or Thomas Robinson, the Jayhawks put together a dominant performance on both ends.

M.O.J. (Most Outstanding Jayhawk)

Elijah Johnson had a great game, but Marcus Morris still is the M.O.J.

Kansas forward Marcus Morris floats a bucket past the Oklahoma State defense during the first half on Monday, Feb. 21, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Marcus Morris floats a bucket past the Oklahoma State defense during the first half on Monday, Feb. 21, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

The junior forward posted 1.41 points per possession used while ending 24.4 percent of KU's possessions, which put together are All-American-type numbers.

In the possessions Marcus ended, the Jayhawks scored at least one point 64.9 percent of the time. Marcus made 9 of 13 shots and 3 of 5 three-pointers while also grabbing 19.5 percent of the available defensive rebounds.

With his combination of his efficiency plus high usage, Marcus has proven over the course of the season to be the best offensive player on a great offensive team.

Room for Improvement

KU's biggest fault on Monday night was fouling too much.

Kansas forward Markieff Morris (21) slaps the ball away from Oklahoma State's Marshall Moses  during the second half Monday, Feb. 21, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Markieff Morris (21) slaps the ball away from Oklahoma State's Marshall Moses during the second half Monday, Feb. 21, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Kevin Anderson

Oklahoma State's free-throw rate (FTs attempted times 100/FGs attempted) on Monday was 63.3, which was well above KU's already-high opponent free-throw rate average (39.8). It was also KU's third-highest free-throw rate allowed this year.

The Jayhawks actually were a bit fortunate on free throws, as OSU made just 20 of 31 (64.5 percent) after coming in with a 72.4-percent team free-throw percentage. OSU guard Keiton Page actually missed two in a row as well, even though he came in leading the conference with a 91.1-percent free-throw percentage.

Former North Carolina coach Dean Smith used to preach that any trip to the free-throw line was a success for his team offensively. Not only was it likely his team would score at least one point per possession, it also was putting the opposing team further into foul trouble.

Thinking about it that way makes sense and also should be a reason for concern for KU with its frequent fouling. Part of the reason why Ohio State is so difficult to beat is because the Buckeyes don't give opposing teams many opportunities for easy points (20.6 defensive free-throw rate, No. 1 nationally).

KU could definitely tighten up in that area.

Tough-Luck Line

It was an efficient night for KU offensively, as every player who made a shot posted at least one point per possession used.

Every player, that is, except guard Josh Selby, who gets the Tough-Luck Line.

Kansas guard Josh Selby is wrapped up as he goes for two during the second half Monday, Feb. 21, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Josh Selby is wrapped up as he goes for two during the second half Monday, Feb. 21, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Kevin Anderson

Selby posted 0.90 points per possession used while ending a high number of KU's possessions (24.3 percent). When he ended a KU possession, the Jayhawks scored at least one point just 36.5 percent of the time.

Though the freshman is getting closer to 100 percent, his offensive efficiency still has yet to catch up to the team's high offensive efficiency.

Selby, who didn't turn it over in 11 first-half minutes, had three giveaways in his nine second-half minutes, and those turnovers dragged down the rest of his numbers.

Selby had the most turnovers on the Jayhawks in his 20 combined minutes, and until he starts securing the ball better, he'll remain a riskier offensive option than some other players in KU's rotation.

Bottom Line

Though KU's offense was once again spectacular, KU fans should probably be most encouraged by the Jayhawks' defensive progress in the last two games.

Kansas guard Tyrel Reed defends a pass from Oklahoma State guard Markel Brown during the first half Monday, Feb. 21, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Tyrel Reed defends a pass from Oklahoma State guard Markel Brown during the first half Monday, Feb. 21, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

One area where KU was particularly dominant on Monday night was the defensive glass. OSU came away with just 9.1 percent of the available offensive rebounds — its second-lowest total in a game in the last 15 years and lowest since the 2003-04 season.

KU's 90.9 percent defensive rebounding percentage, meanwhile, was its third-highest total in the last 15 years and highest since the 2006-07 season.

Though the Jayhawks still foul a bit too much defensively, they have made significant improvements over the last week, playing their best defense of the month in the last two games.

We'll see if that kind of defensive effort shows up on the road as well when KU plays at Oklahoma on Saturday.

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