Entries from blogs tagged with “ku”

Recap: KU excels in “effort” statistics against Miami

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.

In an interesting story about box scores by the Kansas City Star's J. Brady McCollough over the weekend, Kansas coach Bill Self outlined what he looks for first in a box score right after the game.

After glancing at field-goal percentage, Self's eyes go to compare the opponents' missed shots and offensive rebounds.

Or — in other words — Self wants to see what his team's defensive rebounding percentage is.

See, us being nerdy on this blog isn't as crazy as you might think. http://www2.kusports.com/photos/galle...

It all makes sense, as McCollough points out in the article. Self has tons of talent. That's usually not an issue with his teams.

But one of his biggest concerns is to get all those talented players to play hard and to play together.

Self didn't need to look at his box score for long last night to realize that KU played with as much effort last night as it has all season.

The Jayhawks dominated the boards, outrebounding the RedHawks, 46-17.

Let's put that in perspective:

The 17 rebounds by Miami tied for the 14th-fewest by a team in a Div. I game this year, and by my rough estimation, there have been about 2,000 Div. I games played so far this year.

KU's offensive rebounding percentage was 57.1 percent, easily its highest total of the year. Again, we have to think about this to appreciate it. When the Jayhawks missed a shot, they were more likely to get the rebound than the RedHawks were, even though, in theory, Miami should have the inside rebounding position.

The 57.1 percent offensive rebounding clip was the fifth-best effort by KU during Bill Self's eight seasons with the Jayhawks and the best in the last two seasons.

Kansas center Jeff Withey delivers on a dunk before Miami (Ohio) University forward Nick Winbush during the first half, Sunday, Jan. 2, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas center Jeff Withey delivers on a dunk before Miami (Ohio) University forward Nick Winbush during the first half, Sunday, Jan. 2, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

KU's defensive rebounding percentage was 85.7 percent, which again was a season-best.

In McCollough's article above, Self says the optimal goal is to come away with 80 percent of the other team's misses. The Jayhawks beat that optimal goal on Sunday by 5.7 percent.

KU's defensive rebounding percentage Sunday tied for the eighth-best mark in Self's era at KU.

After a week of tough practices that emphasized effort, Self spent most of Sunday night watching his players show the kind of aggressiveness that any coach would be proud of.

M.O.J. (Most Outstanding Jayhawk)

Speaking of inspired Jayhawks, Markieff Morris certainly played the part of one Sunday night.

Kansas forward Markieff Morris dunks against Miami (Ohio) University guard Allen Roberts during the first half, Sunday, Jan. 2, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Markieff Morris dunks against Miami (Ohio) University guard Allen Roberts during the first half, Sunday, Jan. 2, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

The junior couldn't have been much more efficient against Miami, posting 1.67 points per possession used.

Markieff didn't end a high percentage of KU possessions (16.5 percent), but that's partially because he didn't turn the ball over once in his 22 minutes. He made 9 of 11 shots and also was superb on the glass, pulling down 32.4 percent of the available offensive rebounds (a season-high for him) and 25.9 percent of the available defensive rebounds.

He also might have had made the best move on the perimeter of his KU career, faking a three before driving to the rim for a two-handed dunk.

http://www2.kusports.com/videos/2011/jan/02/33781/

I have to wonder if he's going to add that move to the repertoire now that teams realize they have to respect his three-point shot (8-for-21 this year, 38.1 percent).

Room for Improvement

There was one glaring negative from KU's easy victory over Miami: The Jayhawks, once again, were careless with the basketball.

Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor tangles with Miami (Ohio) University guard Orlando Williams as he drives to the bucket during the first half, Sunday, Jan. 2, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor tangles with Miami (Ohio) University guard Orlando Williams as he drives to the bucket during the first half, Sunday, Jan. 2, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

KU turned it over on 27.3 percent of its possessions — its second-highest total of the season.

In reality, though, this was by far the Jayhawks' worst turnover game of the year when you take everything into perspective.

Coming into the game, Miami was in the bottom 10 nationally in defensive turnover percentage. The RedHawks had forced turnovers on fewer than 17 percent of their opponents' possessions. NCAA average turnover percentage is 20.9 percent.

There was no reason for the Jayhawks to turn the ball over at a rate higher than their season average, which is 19.3 percent.

It's a bit scary to think about the pattern that KU is setting. The Jayhawks aren't just turning it over against good steal teams. They're turning it over against bad steal teams.

Now, it isn't every game. KU actually didn't turn the ball over on more than 20 percent of its possessions in any of its previous three games.

But it is a reason for concern looking ahead to a single-elimination tournament in March. KU has shown the volatility to have a huge turnover game against any team, whether that team is good defensively or not.

The Jayhawks posted a solid 1.26 points per possession, but that was despite turnovers. In the possessions where KU didn't turn it over (called an effective possession), the Jayhawks posted an astounding 1.73 points per possession.

Kansas guard Tyrel Reed celebrates a dunk by teammate Josh Selby against Miami (Ohio) University during the first half, Sunday, Jan. 2, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Tyrel Reed celebrates a dunk by teammate Josh Selby against Miami (Ohio) University during the first half, Sunday, Jan. 2, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

If the Jayhawks would have turned it over at an average rate (12.5 times would have been expected from this game) and kept that efficiency, they would have added 9.5 points to their total against Miami.

Those 10 points didn't mean a lot on Sunday, but they definitely could in closer games the rest of the way.

Tough-Luck Line

Part of KU's turnover problem came from an unexpected source: senior guard Brady Morningstar.

Kansas guard Brady Morningstar squeezes in for a bucket past Miami (Ohio) University defender Antonio Ballard during the second half, Sunday, Jan. 2, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Brady Morningstar squeezes in for a bucket past Miami (Ohio) University defender Antonio Ballard during the second half, Sunday, Jan. 2, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

The Lawrence native turned it over four times in just 18 minutes, which is a huge number for a role player.

The giveaways killed Morningstar's final line. He posted a (non-walk-on) team-low 0.74 points per possession used while ending an average number of possessions (20.2 percent). He also had three fouls, and though he finished 2-for-4, he missed both of his three-point attempts.

In a game where I believe Self was ready to hand over minutes to his best defenders, Morningstar had a tough night and wasn't his usual "do-no-harm" self on the offensive end.

Bottom Line

There are reasons to be encouraged if you're a KU fan following the victory over Miami.

The Jayhawks gave great effort, as evidenced by their domination on the glass.

KU played much-improved defense in the first half, allowing just 21 points before falling off a bit in the final 20 minutes.

The Jayhawks shared the ball the best they have since Selby has entered the lineup, posting assists on 68.6 percent of their made baskets — their highest percentage of the year.

In this sequence of images, Kansas guard Travis Releford tosses an off-the-backboard pass to Elijah Johnson for the dunk against Miami (Ohio) University during the first half on Sunday, Jan. 2, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse.

In this sequence of images, Kansas guard Travis Releford tosses an off-the-backboard pass to Elijah Johnson for the dunk against Miami (Ohio) University during the first half on Sunday, Jan. 2, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

We'll see if the Jayhawks show the same effort against UMKC on Wednesday — another team that should be overmatched from the tip.

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Top 10 KUsports.com videos from 2010

As promised, here are the top 10 KUsports.com videos from 2010, based on views.

Interestingly, all 10 of these videos were posted on the site either in March or October.

Here's the list ... 10. Late Night scrimmage highlights (4,966 views)

9. Sherron Collins talks to media after Northern Iowa loss

8. KU ends season with second round loss (6,471 views)

7. Sherron Collins senior speech, part 2 (7,008 views)

6. Vandals target Manhattan sign (7,060 views)

5. Bill Self addresses media after NCAA loss to Northern Iowa (7,066 views)

4. Collins goes out on top during Senior night (7,833 views)

3. Late Night in the Phog: Dream On video (9,113 views)

2. A Sherron Collins retrospective: A timeline of the guard's career, shown through photos (9,519 views)

1. Sherron Collins senior speech, part 1 (13,917 views)

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Recap: Bill Self has reason to be upset with his defense

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.

Travis Releford played 13 minutes in the second half. And I think that might be the most important thing to take from KU's 82-57 victory over UT Arlington on Wednesday.

This really isn't a point about Releford. It's more about KU coach Bill Self. After watching KU's postgame press conference, and hearing Self talk frustratedly about his defense, I came away thinking that the coach's philosophy might be altered a bit from this point forward in the season.

Self isn't going to change. He's always going to emphasize defense. He loves getting after a team. He loves when his players take pride in taking an opposing team out of what it does offensively.

Right now, KU's players' mentality doesn't seem to match that of their coach. And it looks like it bugs him more than it does them.

Which is why Releford's 13 second-half minutes might be important, especially after Self said that Releford was the best defensive player for KU on Wednesday.

Kansas guard Travis Releford celebrates a dunk by teammate Thomas Robinson against UT Arlington during the second half, Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Travis Releford celebrates a dunk by teammate Thomas Robinson against UT Arlington during the second half, Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Through recruiting, Self has loaded his lineup with gifted offensive players. He has numerous guys who can shoot, leap, run and penetrate.

But right now, he only has a few guys that are giving him the defensive effort that he's looking for.

The coach has the ultimate motivator, though: He determines playing time.

All things being equal, I wouldn't be surprised if he increasingly opts for the players that are playing the best defensively.

Kansas head coach Bill Self yells at his team for poor defensive play against UT Arlington during the second half, Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas head coach Bill Self yells at his team for poor defensive play against UT Arlington during the second half, Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

A couple times in the press conference, Self talked about how interesting practices in the next week would be for his players. It sounds like an open audition for more playing time for about 10 Jayhawks, as few have been consistently playing well over the last handful of games.

This might be the time for someone — Releford would be a good example — to make a case for more playing time by guarding better than his teammates.

If Self can't convince his players on the court to be better defensively, I have a feeling he might start looking for other options.

M.O.J. (Most Outstanding Jayhawk)

Thomas Robinson probably just played his best game as a Jayhawk.

The sophomore forward combined efficiency with high usage, posting 1.39 points per possession used while taking on a huge offensive load for KU (ending 25.2 percent of possessions).

He also continued to be dominating on the glass, taking down 32.2 percent of the available offensive rebounds (to put in perspective how high that number is, his 20.4 percent offensive rebounding percentage coming in ranked sixth in the nation) and 19 percent of the available defensive rebounds.

And he did it all without turning the ball over, which has been the biggest obstacle for him since arriving at KU.

A stat line of 20 points, 8-for-10 shooting and 10 rebounds is a good effort on any night, but the fact that Robinson pulled it off in just 24 minutes makes the feat even more impressive.

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson delivers a dunk before the UT Arlington defense during the second half, Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson delivers a dunk before the UT Arlington defense during the second half, Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Self would prefer to have Robinson be a boost off the bench, but it's getting harder for the coach to do that with as well as the Washington, D.C. native is playing lately.

Room for Improvement

After the game, Self said that he believed his team's defense had gotten worse over the last month.

Statistically, it'd probably be hard to argue with him.

Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor forces a turnover against UT Arlington's Darius Richardson during the first half, Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor forces a turnover against UT Arlington's Darius Richardson during the first half, Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

UT Arlington had the type of offense that the Jayhawks chewed up and spit out at the beginning of the season. Some examples: KU allowed 0.64 points per possession against Valparaiso, 0.61 points per possession against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and 0.56 points per possession against Ohio.

On Wednesday, the Jayhawks allowed 0.86 points per possession against the Mavericks — a team not as good offensively as the three listed above.

UT Arlington played a much slower pace than is normally does (66 possessions, compared to an average of 73), but it still was able to get good shots off late in the shot clock.

Because of that, the Mavs were around their season averages across the board offensively.

Their eFG% was 47.3 (compared to their season mark of 49.8 percent). They turned it over 24.2 percent of the time against KU (their season mark is exactly 24.2 percent).

KU's defense roughly held UT Arlington's offense to an average output this season. That's not a good thing, considering Mavs have played four non-Div. I schools in their first 11 games.

Tough-Luck Line

We'll probably look back and say that this was the worst game of Josh Selby's career at Kansas.

Kansas guard Josh Selby wipes his face off with a towel after coming out of the game in the second half against UT Arlington, Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Josh Selby wipes his face off with a towel after coming out of the game in the second half against UT Arlington, Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

The freshman contributed just 0.52 points per possession while struggling to a 1-for-9 shooting night.

There's both good and bad to take from Selby's line. One good thing for KU fans is that, on an off shooting night, the guard didn't force the issue offensively. He used only 13.9 percent of KU's possessions when he was in, meaning he deferred to teammates more than we saw in the first two games.

Kansas guard Josh Selby runs down a loose ball against UT Arlington during the second half, Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Josh Selby runs down a loose ball against UT Arlington during the second half, Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Selby's misses also weren't always a negative for KU's offense. Because he draws so much attention defensively, oftentimes Selby allows KU's post players easy opportunities for offensive rebounds. That happened Wednesday, as four different times off Selby missed shots, one of KU's big men grabbed the offensive rebound and put in a stickback.

Then again, when Selby isn't producing offensively, KU might have better options on its bench. We've talked all along about how Selby's defense will improve, and it looks to me like the freshman is trying hard on that end. He's just not there yet.

Tyshawn Taylor, Tyrel Reed and Elijah Johnson all are more consistent defenders as of now, and all have the ability to keep the ball moving offensively if they are in. If Selby isn't scoring or creating for teammates, Self has the luxury of putting in a guard that might be a lower-risk, lower-reward player if the situation calls for it.

Bottom Line

The Jayhawks used their advantage inside to pull away from the Mavericks. KU came away with 48.4 percent of the available offensive rebounds, (second-highest total of the year) and 74.3 percent of the defensive rebounds (third-highest total of the year). The Jayhawks also made 21 of their 33 two-point attempts (63.6 percent).

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson grabs an offensive rebound between UT Arlington guard Darius Richardson (2) and Jordan Reves (55) during the second half, Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson grabs an offensive rebound between UT Arlington guard Darius Richardson (2) and Jordan Reves (55) during the second half, Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Still, KU didn't take a step forward defensively on Wednesday. Though UT Arlington slowed down the pace, it was still able to get off good shots at the end of the shot clock by beating KU's defenders off the dribble and making jump shots.

Coming in, one would have expected the Mavs to struggle much more offensively against the Jayhawks than they did.

Don't be surprised if Self tinkers with his rotation to see if he can boost his defense, even if it means the Jayhawks don't have their most gifted offensive players on the court at the same time.

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Top 10 KUsports.com stories from 2010

Before focusing on 2011, it’s time to take a look back at the year that was in Kansas University athletics.

The following are the top 10 most-clicked on stories for KUsports.com in 2010:*

* — Check back Friday for the top 10 most-clicked on videos in 2010. 10. Mangino leaves Lawrence, moves to Florida (20,023 pageviews)

After serving eight seasons as Kansas University football coach, Mark Mangino resigned from the position on Dec. 3, 2009. The final chapter of his stay in Lawrence took place on May 18, as Mangino, his wife Mary Jane and dog Yogi packed up moving vans and headed to a new home in Naples, Fla. Many of the 100 comments on KUsports.com sent their best wishes to the coach responsible for KU’s 12-1 season in 2007-08, which included an Orange Bowl victory over Virginia Tech.

9. KU football uniforms changing (20,990 pageviews)

In what was the first of a few controversial moves by new Kansas football coach Turner Gill, the Jayhawks elected to go without names on the back of their uniforms for the first time since 1981. Gill said he made the change “to support what we are expecting from our team and program. Our program is about team. We are representing the University of Kansas. You will see that name on the front of our jerseys.” KU also removed the red stripe from its blue helmets. In an online poll, 56 percent of respondents didn’t like the new uniforms, 32 percent said they did like them, and 12 percent were undecided.

8. KU athletic director Lew Perkins to resign at the end of the 2010-11 school year (21,981 pageviews)

A few weeks after it was revealed that five KU athletic department employees and a consultant were involved in a massive ticket scandal, Lew Perkins announced he would retire from his post as KU athletic director following the 2010-11 school year. The news shook many KU fans, who feared for the school’s future conference affiliation if the Big 12 dissolved. Perkins ended up retiring even earlier than expected, putting his immediate resignation on Sept. 7 — three days after his newly-hired football coach, Turner Gill, lost his debut at home against North Dakota State, 6-3.

7. Mayer: Kentucky basketball victories tainted (24,363 pageviews)

Though Kentucky was the first NCAA men’s basketball team to 2,000 victories, Lawrence Journal-World columnist Bill Mayer said the Wildcats cheated to get there. Mayer outlined the transgressions of former Kentucky coach (and KU grad) Adolph Rupp, which included payment to his players. The pageviews show how a story can spread quickly on the Internet, as more than 10,000 of the clicks came directly from links on Kentucky men’s basketball pages/message boards.

6. Zach Peters to announce college decision (26,274 pageviews)

Rumors swirled on April 19, 2010, that high school sophomore recruit Zach Peters was about to commit to KU over Kentucky, North Carolina and Texas. The next day, the 6-foot-9, 235-pound Peters made things official, committing to KU during a press conference at his school. Peters, from Plano, Texas, is the 97th-best player in the class of 2012, according to the latest Rivals.com rankings.

5. KU gets No. 1 seed in NCAA Tournament (26,724 pageviews)

Though the KU men’s basketball team earned the overall No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, many analysts believed the Jayhawks received a tough draw in the Midwest Regional. KU’s side of the bracket included Ohio State, Georgetown, Maryland, Michigan State and also the only two teams KU had lost to all season (Tennessee and Oklahoma State). “The first thing I thought was, ‘Wow, are we No. 1, or is somebody else No. 1?’” KU forward Marcus Morris said after watching the selection show. The Jayhawks didn’t end up getting far enough to face any of those teams, losing to Northern Iowa in the second round of the tourney in Oklahoma City.

4. Cole Aldrich declares for 2010 NBA Draft (29,685 pageviews)

As expected, KU center Cole Aldrich announced on March 29 that he was declaring for the NBA Draft. By doing so, he was able to help out his parents, who both were struggling to keep steady work in a tough economy. “I don’t think the public or media would possibly know what his family members have gone through this year,” KU coach Bill Self said. “I think it was a very, very easy decision and one that needed to be made.” Aldrich was later taken 11th overall by the New Orleans Hornets, who traded his rights to the Oklahoma City Thunder. The NBA’s rookie salary scale indicates that Aldrich will make about $1.8 million in the first year of his contract and $1.9 million in the second year.

3. Xavier Henry declares for 2010 NBA Draft (30,991 pageviews)

Though Aldrich’s departure from KU was expected, some fans held out hope that freshman guard Xavier Henry might return for his sophomore season. It didn’t happen, as on April 7, Henry announced at a press conference that he would enter the NBA Draft, becoming KU’s first “one-and-done” player. Though Henry had shown little emotion during the season, he had tears in his eyes when he told reporters that he would be leaving Lawrence. “I didn’t know I’d love it here this much at KU,” Henry said. “All the people here ... they really made it a place for me to love.” Henry was drafted 12th overall by the Memphis Grizzlies in June.

2. KU basketball player Mario Little arrested after altercation (33,387 pageviews)

Kansas senior Mario Little was arrested early in the morning on Dec. 16, on charges of battery, criminal damage and criminal trespassing. According to a police statement, Little pushed his girlfriend — a former KU men’s basketball manager — into a sink. KU coach Bill Self announced later that day that Little had been suspended indefinitely. “(The charges) are misdemeanors, but are still very major and serious in our eyes,” Self said. “We’ll wait and see how that plays out.” Little remains suspended from games.

1. Conference realignment saga/Big 12 Conference saved (48,258 pageviews)

Following the departures of Nebraska (Big Ten) and Colorado (Pac-10/12), the Big 12 seemed to be on the verge of extinction. Teams like Texas, Texas A&M, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State were receiving strong interest from other conferences, while schools like Kansas, Kansas State and Iowa State worried they might be left to scramble for a conference if major realignment took place. On June 14, Texas ended the speculation with a late-afternoon press release; the Longhorns announced their athletic programs would continue to compete in the Big 12 after the 10 remaining teams in the league pledged to stay together. The conference realignment drama gripped KUsports.com readers throughout the week, as three other blog entries on the topic received at least 25,000 pageviews.

The rest of the top 20
11. Quarterback recruit Brock Berglund commits to KU (18,688 pageviews); 12. Northern Iowa stuns KU in second round of NCAAs (18,614); 13. Talk at Jordan Brand Classic indicates Josh Selby will choose KU (18,271); 14. Basketball recruit Zach Peters picks Kansas (18,163); 15. North Dakota State football coach rips KU (18,012); 16. North Dakota State stuns Jayhawks, 6-3 (17,892); 17. Sherron Collins explodes for 32 points in NBA summer league finale (17,832); 18. Keegan: Next-best fit for KU? Big/Pac-20 (17,457); 19. KU’s Self disagrees with Bob Knight, who said Collins should have been benched to start second half against Texas A&M (17,207); 20. Keegan: Notre Dame, Arkansas: Come on down (16,982).

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Recap: How to comfortably win a game you don’t dominate

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.

The box score for this game makes it look closer than it was.

KU won 78-63, but both teams were nearly even on the glass (KU held the edge, 40-39). Cal had more turnovers, but not a lot more (three). The Bears also made it to the free-throw line a lot more than the Jayhawks.

So how did the Jayhawks come away with a comfortable victory? http://www2.kusports.com/videos/2010/...

You never want to only say that shooting is the only reason for winning or losing a game, but in this game, it made quite a bit of difference.

The Bears weren't shy about taking threes, but they made just 4 of 22 (18.2 percent).

KU also was three-happy (especially in the first half), but that turned out OK, as the Jayhawks made a decent percentage (7 of 19, 36.8 percent).

As Cal coach Mike Montgomery said appropriately after the game: "(KU) didn’t light it up (from three), but it’s certainly better than 4-for-22."

Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor extends to defend against a shot by Cal guard Gary Franklin during the first half, Wednesday, Dec. 22, 2010 at Haas Pavilion in Berkeley, California.

Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor extends to defend against a shot by Cal guard Gary Franklin during the first half, Wednesday, Dec. 22, 2010 at Haas Pavilion in Berkeley, California. by Nick Krug

The Jayhawks' defense certainly had something to do with the Bears' poor shooting numbers. Montgomery admitted that KU's defense did a good job of closing off the inside, which forced Cal to jack up shots from the outside (where it had only made 32 percent of its attempts coming into the game).

Cal also didn't help itself at the free-throw line, where it made 19 of 33 shots (57.6 percent), well below its average of 67.2 percent.

In short, Cal had lots of chances to be close to KU at the end but couldn't make enough shots.

KU's defense held an already poor Bears' offense to a 38.6 eFG%, which was Cal's third-worst shooting effort of the year.

Kansas guard Josh Selby defends Cal forward Harper Kamp during the first half, Wednesday, Dec. 22, 2010 at Haas Pavilion in Berkeley, California.

Kansas guard Josh Selby defends Cal forward Harper Kamp during the first half, Wednesday, Dec. 22, 2010 at Haas Pavilion in Berkeley, California. by Nick Krug

On a night when KU didn't separate itself in other areas, the Jayhawks' half-court defense was good enough to carry them to the victory.

M.O.J. (Most Outstanding Jayhawk)

Though it's close between Tyrel Reed and Markieff Morris, Reed gets the nod here.

Kansas guard Tyrel Reed celebrates with Travis Releford after grabbing a bucket and a foul from a Cal defender during the second half, Wednesday, Dec. 22, 2010 at Haas Pavilion in Berkeley, California.

Kansas guard Tyrel Reed celebrates with Travis Releford after grabbing a bucket and a foul from a Cal defender during the second half, Wednesday, Dec. 22, 2010 at Haas Pavilion in Berkeley, California. by Nick Krug

The senior guard was KU's most efficient player offensively, posting 1.57 points per possession used. He didn't use a lot of possessions (14 percent), but then again, his role really isn't to do that. He's in there to hit the open threes he gets (he made 3 of 8 against Cal) and also score off the occasional drive (he was 3-for-3 from two-point range).

Reed also was a steady hand when KU needed it. He played 35 minutes and turned it over just one time, which was much needed as KU's other two primary guards (Tyshawn Taylor and Josh Selby) combined for eight turnovers.

The Burlington native also has been great on the boards in the last two games. He grabbed the defensive rebound on 18.6 percent of Cal's misses, which was the third-highest defensive rebounding mark on the team behind Thomas Robinson and Marcus Morris. Reed's 18 points, seven rebounds and 35 minutes were all career-highs.

Kansas guard Tyrel Reed lays in a bucket between Cal defenders Harper Kamp (22) and Jorge Gutierrez (2) during the second half, Wednesday, Dec. 22, 2010 at Haas Pavilion in Berkeley, California.

Kansas guard Tyrel Reed lays in a bucket between Cal defenders Harper Kamp (22) and Jorge Gutierrez (2) during the second half, Wednesday, Dec. 22, 2010 at Haas Pavilion in Berkeley, California. by Nick Krug

So far, Reed has been the KU player that has meshed the best with Selby on the court, and the senior should continue to get big minutes as long as that trend keeps up.

Room for Improvement

The most glaring weakness from Wednesday night was KU's poor defensive rebounding.

Coming in, the Bears had averaged just 9.2 offensive rebounds per game, which ranked last in the Pac-10.

Against KU, Cal had 15 offensive rebounds — its highest total of the year.

Kansas players Markieff Morris, left, Josh Selby and Thomas Robinson go after a rebound against Cal during the first half, Wednesday, Dec. 22, 2010 at Haas Pavilion in Berkeley, California. At left is Cal forward Harper Kamp.

Kansas players Markieff Morris, left, Josh Selby and Thomas Robinson go after a rebound against Cal during the first half, Wednesday, Dec. 22, 2010 at Haas Pavilion in Berkeley, California. At left is Cal forward Harper Kamp. by Nick Krug

The Bears gathered 34.9 percent of the available offensive rebounds, which is much higher than their season average of 28.8 percent.

For KU, I'm not sure there's a good explanation. With the defensive rebounding problems against Cal, though, I was surprised that KU coach Bill Self didn't throw Jeff Withey in for a few minutes, just to see what he could do.

Kansas head coach Bill Self screams at his defense during the first half, Wednesday, Dec. 22, 2010 at Haas Pavilion in Berkeley, California.

Kansas head coach Bill Self screams at his defense during the first half, Wednesday, Dec. 22, 2010 at Haas Pavilion in Berkeley, California. by Nick Krug

Withey's first "did not play, coach's decision" of the year — in a game where KU needed a big rebounding body — probably tells us that Withey has some work to do in practice to convince Self he's ready to re-enter the rotation.

Tough-Luck Line

Tyshawn Taylor runs away with this category for the second straight game.

Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor reacts to a foul called against him during the first half, Wednesday, Dec. 22, 2010 at Haas Pavilion in Berkeley, California.

Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor reacts to a foul called against him during the first half, Wednesday, Dec. 22, 2010 at Haas Pavilion in Berkeley, California. by Nick Krug

The junior once again looked out of sorts while playing with Selby. Taylor posted a miserable 0.47 points per possession while using up 18.8 percent of possessions (which is about average).

I thought Tom Keegan put it best in his latest Keegan ratings: "It’s as if he’s trying to show he has as much talent as Josh Selby."

It is worth noting, though, that while some of Taylor's individual numbers were ugly (1-for-8 field goals, five turnovers), KU actually didn't perform that poorly when he was out there.

I'll warn again that we shouldn't put too much stock in plus-minus numbers, as they can be misleading, but during Taylor's 29 minutes, KU outscored Cal, 62-46.

Offensively, KU scored 2.1 points per minute when Taylor was in. During the 11 minutes he wasn't in, KU scored 1.5 points per minute.

Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor elevates for a bucket against Cal during the second half, Wednesday, Dec. 22, 2010 at Haas Pavilion in Berkeley, California.

Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor elevates for a bucket against Cal during the second half, Wednesday, Dec. 22, 2010 at Haas Pavilion in Berkeley, California. by Nick Krug

I can't explain the numbers, and maybe they don't mean anything. But they might indicate that Taylor did have some positive impact for KU that didn't show up in his individual stat line.

Bottom Line

Take away all the fighting and fouls, and KU claimed a comfortable road victory by shutting down the lane and forcing Cal into a shooting contest that it didn't win.

Kansas guard Josh Selby puts up a floater over Cal forward Bak Bak during the second half, Wednesday, Dec. 22, 2010 at Haas Pavilion in Berkeley, California.

Kansas guard Josh Selby puts up a floater over Cal forward Bak Bak during the second half, Wednesday, Dec. 22, 2010 at Haas Pavilion in Berkeley, California. by Nick Krug

It's worth noting that KU has moved into KenPom's top spot in terms of adjusted defensive efficiency. Quietly, the Jayhawks have improved their defensive standing over the last few weeks without anyone really talking about it.

The Jayhawks now have three home cupcakes in a row to try to figure out how to be more consistent offensively with Selby before their next road test at Michigan on Jan. 9.

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Recap: I thought that game looked familiar …

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.

When watching the replay of KU's 70-68 victory over USC, I had the feeling I had already seen a game very similar to it before at Allen Fieldhouse. http://www2.kusports.com/videos/2010/dec/18/33710/

It turned out I had.

Take a look at the KU-USC game stats compared to another KU game played recently, one we'll call "Game X."

In both games, KU shot significantly worse than its opponent, but made up for it by getting to the free throw line and also by minimizing turnovers.*

* — KU also helped its cause against USC by grabbing 13 offensive rebounds to the Trojans' seven.

Any guesses as to which contest "Game X" is?

Kansas forward Markieff Morris elevates for a dunk as USC defenders Alex Stephenson and Maurice Jones (10) trail during the second half, Saturday, Dec. 18, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Markieff Morris elevates for a dunk as USC defenders Alex Stephenson and Maurice Jones (10) trail during the second half, Saturday, Dec. 18, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Yep, KU's game against USC on Saturday was almost identical to the KU vs. Cornell contest at Allen Fieldhouse on Jan. 6, 2010.

Even more interesting? Both games were helped by a crucial three-point play by a confident KU guard.

With KU trailing 64-63, Sherron Collins split two defenders before putting in a layup with a foul to give the Jayhawks the lead for good with 41 seconds remaining.

The Fieldhouse crowd watches as Sherron Collins penetrates the Cornell defense for a bucket to give the Jayhawks the lead late in the second half, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2009 at Allen Fieldhouse.

The Fieldhouse crowd watches as Sherron Collins penetrates the Cornell defense for a bucket to give the Jayhawks the lead late in the second half, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2009 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Meanwhile, on Saturday, Josh Selby's three-pointer with 26 seconds left turned a 68-66 deficit into a 69-68 lead.

Kansas guard Josh Selby celebrates his last-minute three pointer against USC with Markieff Morris Saturday, Dec. 18, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Josh Selby celebrates his last-minute three pointer against USC with Markieff Morris Saturday, Dec. 18, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Richard Gwin

Because KU didn't shoot as well as USC, it had to perform well in other areas to come away with the victory.

Here are a few of the Jayhawks' unsung heroes from Saturday's win:

Thomas Robinson (four), Tyrel Reed (two) and Brady Morningstar (two) for their offensive rebounding. These three players allowed KU to steal extra possessions to make up the difference in shooting percentages.

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson dunks on the USC defense Saturday, Dec. 18, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson dunks on the USC defense Saturday, Dec. 18, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Richard Gwin

Coming into the game, Morningstar had only three offensive rebounds all year.

Reed, meanwhile, had none.

Robinson (zero), Reed (zero), Morningstar (one), Marcus Morris (one) and Markieff Morris (one) for limiting their turnovers.

In a game where KU's two primary ballhandlers (Tyshawn Taylor and Josh Selby) combined for 10 turnovers in 59 minutes, the five players above combined for just three turnovers in 115 minutes.

As a team, KU had just 13 turnovers. One or two more, and the Jayhawks' home-court winning streak would have ended at 64.

M.O.J. (Most Outstanding Jayhawk)

The numbers aren't going to tell you anything you didn't already know.

Josh Selby was KU's best player on Saturday.

In his debut, Selby gave KU an offensive boost it desperately needed. He posted 1.18 points per possession used while carrying a heavy offensive load, using 30 percent of KU's possessions (average is 20 percent). His 68.1 eFG% was the highest on the team and helped him overcome four turnovers.

Kansas guard Josh Selby laughs with Markieff Morris on the bench during the second half, Saturday, Dec. 18, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Josh Selby laughs with Markieff Morris on the bench during the second half, Saturday, Dec. 18, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

His ability to draw fouls also helped KU's free-throw total, as Selby shot seven free throws, making six of them.

Though he was great offensively, there's still plenty of room for improvement for Selby defensively. It's hard to take too much stock in plus-minus numbers because there are so many variables involved, but I thought Selby's numbers were interesting this game.

In Selby's 27 minutes, KU allowed 52 points (1.93 points per minute). In the 13 minutes Selby wasn't on the floor, KU allowed 16 points (1.23 points per minute).

Again, plus-minus is not the greatest indicator of an individual's performance, as a player can't be responsible for everything that occurs on the floor. Still, it appears that while KU's scoring went up with Selby on the court, USC's scoring did the same.

Self admitted afterwards that Selby was being asked to play a type of defense that he'd never been asked to execute before in a game, so the guard's instincts should improve as the season goes on.

Room for Improvement

KU had its worst offensive effort of the season against USC.

The Jayhawks scored 1.01 points per possession, their lowest output of the year.

Kansas forward Markieff Morris fights for a rebound with USC players Nikola Vucevic (5) and Maurice Jones (10) during the first half, Saturday, Dec. 18, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Markieff Morris fights for a rebound with USC players Nikola Vucevic (5) and Maurice Jones (10) during the first half, Saturday, Dec. 18, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

A big part of KU's problem appeared to be that the Jayhawks' passing wasn't very good — or, as Self often says, the ball stuck too much.

KU had just 12 assists, which was the lowest number this season. It's the second straight game that the Jayhawks have set a season-low for assists (KU had 13 against Colorado State).

The assist numbers are usually a good indication of how well a Bill Self team is performing offensively.

Last year, during a 33-3 season, KU was just 1-3 during its four lowest assist games of the year.

Tough-Luck Line

This one shouldn't be a surprise, as Tyshawn Taylor had his worst game of the year.

USC's Donte Smith steals from Tyshawn Taylor in the second half Saturday, Dec. 18, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse.

USC's Donte Smith steals from Tyshawn Taylor in the second half Saturday, Dec. 18, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Richard Gwin

With Selby in the lineup, Taylor looked like a guard that was trying to do way too much. He posted just 0.55 points per possession used (his previous low this year was 1.05 points per possession used against Memphis) while using up more than his fair share of possessions (21.7 percent).

Until Saturday, Taylor hadn't had a game this season where he'd registered more turnovers than assists; against USC, he had six turnovers to just one assist.

It'll be interesting to see if Taylor and Selby play better together against Cal.

Bottom Line

KU's home-court win streak is still alive because Selby gave KU a boost offensively while other players helped KU steal possessions.

Kansas guard Josh Selby salutes the Allen Fieldhouse crowd as he leaves the court following the Jayhawks' 70-68 win over USC, Saturday, Dec. 18, 2010. Selby made his debut with 21 points and hit what proved to be the game winning shot with 24 seconds left.

Kansas guard Josh Selby salutes the Allen Fieldhouse crowd as he leaves the court following the Jayhawks' 70-68 win over USC, Saturday, Dec. 18, 2010. Selby made his debut with 21 points and hit what proved to be the game winning shot with 24 seconds left. by Nick Krug

Much like last year's Cornell game, KU used a free-throw advantage and also limited its turnovers to make up for a shooting discrepancy.

The Jayhawks are in a bit of a slump offensively, though, and they'll need to pass the ball better if they hope to break out of that funk in their next game against Cal on Wednesday.

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Blog gives interesting perspective from anonymous KU football player

Those wanting to get a bit of insider information on what's going on inside the Kansas football program should be sure to read Owen Kemp's latest blog post on his blog, Rock Chalk Talk. In the post, Kemp has a conversation with someone he calls a "source," but judging from the quotes, it appears to be an anonymous player still on the KU football team.

The "source" makes it through a lot of topics, including some recent changes in the team's conditioning.

"Offseason conditioning right now the team was doing close grip bench," the source told Kemp. "Big John (Williams) says keep your feet flat. Someone didn't, the whole team is doing up downs. They're on us, nobody wants to be 3-9 again. We're learning to do everything right and then there won't be any extra up downs. Tired of them."

The "source" also talks about special teams (including the punt formation KU used), reasons for why KU struggled in 2010 and players to look for in 2011.

Definitely worth a click on the link above if you haven't seen it yet.

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Recap: How an ‘awful’ performance still nets a 21-point win

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.

OK, by now you've heard it. Or maybe you've seen it. Or maybe you're about to see it (look below).

Kansas coach Bill Self's first words out of the postgame press conference were this: "We were awful. Let that be your headlines." http://www2.kusports.com/videos/2010/...

I love the coach's honesty. Self didn't hold much back in the press conference following KU's 76-55 victory over Colorado State, opening up instead of clichéing up like many college coaches do.

This much is clear: Self is trying to get his team's attention, which isn't always easy to do after a blowout win. He sees good and wants great.

Still, I sat there and wondered. If KU played so horribly, then how the heck did the Jayhawks still almost win by more than they were favored (21.5 points)?

http://www2.kusports.com/videos/2010/dec/11/33657/

After looking at the box score, here are a few reasons that the game still wasn't close even when KU played "awful."

KU was really, really good on the offensive glass. The Jayhawks picked up 52.9 percent of the available offensive rebounds in the game, which was their best offensive rebounding game in the last two seasons.

It's even more incredible if you think about it. When KU missed a shot on offense, there was a better chance that the Jayhawks would get the rebound than the Rams.

Kansas forward Markieff Morris delivers a put-back dunk over Colorado State forward Andy Ogide during the first half, Saturday, Dec. 11, 2010 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City.

Kansas forward Markieff Morris delivers a put-back dunk over Colorado State forward Andy Ogide during the first half, Saturday, Dec. 11, 2010 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City. by Nick Krug

KU's 50 rebounds were a season-high, as were its 10 blocks.

KU's defense was pretty darned good as well. CSU came in as the third-best shooting team in the nation, posting a 59.9 eFG%. The Rams' worst shooting performance was a 55.2 eFG% effort against Sam Houston State.

Against KU, CSU posted a 33.3 eFG% — its third-worst in four years under coach Tim Miles.

The Jayhawks turned the Rams' greatest strength into a glaring weakness. And they did so by shutting down the shots inside.

Kansas guard Brady Morningstar collides with Colorado State guard Dorian Green during the second half, Saturday, Dec. 11, 2010 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City. In back is Kansas guard Elijah Johnson.

Kansas guard Brady Morningstar collides with Colorado State guard Dorian Green during the second half, Saturday, Dec. 11, 2010 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City. In back is Kansas guard Elijah Johnson. by Nick Krug

CSU came into the game with the third-best, two-point shooting percentage in the country (60.7 percent). The Rams shot just 25.6 percent from two-point range against KU (11 for 43).

Self talked about how CSU "missed shots" after the game, but obviously, KU's defense deserves some of the credit for that.

KU held down Colorado State forward Andy Ogide. The 6-foot-9 senior came in as one of the best shooters in the country, making 68.2 percent of his field goals. In fact, the worst he'd shot in a game this season was 58.3 percent.

Against KU, Ogide shot 30.7 percent (4 of 13).

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson works for position against Colorado State forward Andy Ogide during the second half, Saturday, Dec. 11, 2010 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City.

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson works for position against Colorado State forward Andy Ogide during the second half, Saturday, Dec. 11, 2010 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City. by Nick Krug

Give a lot of credit to KU forward Markieff Morris. After his brother, Marcus, left with an ankle injury, Markieff was able to avoid fouls and play significant minutes for the Jayhawks. Coming in, Markieff averaged a foul every 5.8 minutes he played. On Saturday, he played 28 minutes and had just two fouls.

When KU desperately needed Markieff in the game, he played smart while also holding down a gifted offensive player.

M.O.J. (Most Outstanding Jayhawk)

Tyshawn Taylor is playing at a high level, and he continued his hot streak against Colorado State on Saturday.

Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor gets a bucket past Colorado State forward Andre McFarland during the first half, Saturday, Dec. 11, 2010 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City.

Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor gets a bucket past Colorado State forward Andre McFarland during the first half, Saturday, Dec. 11, 2010 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City. by Nick Krug

The junior guard posted a team-best 1.70 points per possession used and did so while playing three-fourths of the Jayhawks' minutes.

He only used 15.9 percent of the possessions he was in there (which is a bit below NCAA average for a player), but that's not a bad thing for Taylor. His job is to run the team, get others open shots, then take advantage of driving lanes and shots when they are available.

His standard box score line was efficient as well: 12 points, 3-for-5 shooting, 5-for-6 shooting from the free-throw line, six assists, three turnovers, two blocks and two steals.

It also should be noted that on a night when KU didn't pass the ball particularly well (recording only 13 assists), Taylor had nearly half of them (six).

Room for Improvement

For the second straight game, KU was careless with the basketball.

Kansas forward Marcus Morris catches a pass in the paint as Colorado State guard Wes Eikmeier defends during the second half, Saturday, Dec. 11, 2010 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City.

Kansas forward Marcus Morris catches a pass in the paint as Colorado State guard Wes Eikmeier defends during the second half, Saturday, Dec. 11, 2010 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City. by Nick Krug

The Jayhawks turned it over on 25.4 percent of their possessions, making it their second-worst turnover game of the season, next to Memphis.

Though KU might be excused against a long and athletic team like Memphis, there isn't much excuse for turning it over against Colorado State.

The Rams entered the game almost exactly at the NCAA average when it came to forcing turnovers (CSU forced turnovers on 21.1 percent of possessions; NCAA average is 21.2 percent).

Though KU oftentimes plays "wild" as Self calls it, the last two games, the Jayhawks have been closer to "reckless."

Turning it over against high-steal teams (like Memphis) is one thing. Turning it over against every team, regardless of its defense, is a different problem altogether.

It's an issue that the Jayhawks might not be able to fix immediately, as freshman Josh Selby might make a wild team even wilder when he first enters the KU rotation.

Kansas players Josh Selby, left, Niko Roberts, and Jordan Juenemann celebrate a dunk by teammate Markieff Morris during the second half, Saturday, Dec. 11, 2010 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City.

Kansas players Josh Selby, left, Niko Roberts, and Jordan Juenemann celebrate a dunk by teammate Markieff Morris during the second half, Saturday, Dec. 11, 2010 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City. by Nick Krug

Tough-Luck Line

It's Thomas Robinson. And this is one of the toughest-luck lines of the year.

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson dribbles behind his back as he comes away with a steal from Colorado State forward Travis Franklin during the second half, Saturday, Dec. 11, 2010 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City.

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson dribbles behind his back as he comes away with a steal from Colorado State forward Travis Franklin during the second half, Saturday, Dec. 11, 2010 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City. by Nick Krug

Robinson was solid almost all the way across his statistical line. He grabbed 27.6 percent of available offensive rebounds and 20.4 percent of available defensive rebounds, which are both strong numbers. He shot a good percentage from the floor (60.0 eFG%), blocked 16.4 percent of CSU's shot attempts when he was in, and even posted 13.1 percent of his team's assists during his 17 minutes.

His poor free-throw shooting, though, overshadowed what was an otherwise encouraging night.

Robinson was just 1-for-7 from the line, which killed his offensive numbers. Mostly because of the free throws, Robinson posted just 0.67 points per possession while using a high percentage of KU possessions (31.6 percent).

The reason that this is tough luck is that I've talked to Robinson. I know he was frustrated with his free-throw shooting last year, so he dedicated himself to improving in the offseason.

I know he sought out Self, along with KU assistants Danny Manning and Joe Dooley, to help him fix his free-throw form. He also put up extra shots in the summer.

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson salutes his teammates while waiting to check in after a Jayhawk bucket against Colorado State during the second half, Saturday, Dec. 11, 2010 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City.

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson salutes his teammates while waiting to check in after a Jayhawk bucket against Colorado State during the second half, Saturday, Dec. 11, 2010 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City. by Nick Krug

Early on this season, he was improved at the line, as he made 8 of 11 free throws in KU's first three games (72.7 percent).

With his recent struggles, he's down to 48.4 percent from the line this year.

That's not because of a lack of effort on his part.

I think we'll see him in the mid-60s by the time this season is over.

Bottom Line

Though Self's harsh comments afterwards were a smart tactic used to get his team's focus, that doesn't necessarily mean that KU played horribly against CSU.

Kansas head coach Bill Self has words for a game official during the second half, Saturday, Dec. 11, 2010 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City.

Kansas head coach Bill Self has words for a game official during the second half, Saturday, Dec. 11, 2010 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City. by Nick Krug

If you're looking for positives, KU's offensive rebounding was great and its defense — especially against Ogide — was stellar.

Colorado State coach Tim Miles gave a great quote after the game before Self even made it to the podium.

"I don't know what Self's complaining about," Miles said. "I thought their defense was just fine."

In reality, KU's defense was just fine. KU was just fine.

It's just that "fine" isn't always good enough for Self, who demands more than that out of his players.

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Cliff’s Notes: Bill Self press conference, 12/9/10

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. • Self says KU is shooting 57 percent from the floor because it takes really good shots and gets lots of easy baskets. Against Memphis, if KU had 14 turnovers instead of 22, the game probably would have been a much bigger margin. KU still needs to become a better passing team.

One of KU's advantages is that opposing teams have to guard all five guys on the court.

Tyshawn Taylor frustrates Self in a good way, because the coach sees potential. It's kind of like a quarterback. He can play great, but with two mistakes, it can be 12 points in the other direction. Taylor is like that. He loses focus sometimes. When you talk about the most valuable player on KU this year, Taylor has to be the guy. He does what no one else on KU can do. Self sees a really high ceiling for him.

Taylor needs to get better, but he's a kid. Kids go through "stuff" all the time. His stuff happened to be public in social media. The reason last year was up and down for him was because of things outside of basketball. When Taylor feels good about himself, he performs at a high level. He feels good about himself right now.

• Thomas Robinson can be a guy that allows KU to bring in a bench player without dropping off. Self loved what Robinson did in New York City. That might be a good number of minutes for him (15 minutes), because he got an awful lot done in that time. Self thought Robinson was the best player against Memphis.

Self says KU's free throws have been awful lately. If you take Tyrel Reed off the percentages, KU is about 55 percent. KU has to get better. If you're an opposing coach, though, you might wonder what happens if the Jayhawks start hitting their free throws. Self is not worried about KU's free-throw shooting improving.

Colorado State has a nice team. The Rams took Colorado to overtime in Boulder. It will be a good test for KU. Dorian Green is a good player coming home. KU needs to play better. The Jayhawks, honestly, haven't played as well the last two weeks.

KU is proud to be a part of the Champions Classic. It will have a Final Four-type feel in November. It will be a cool event.

KU doesn't play to its strengths defensively. It doesn't play to its quickness or length. The Jayhawks are behind defensively. The guys understand that.

Tyrel Reed and Brady Morningstar are playing really well in spots. It was nice to see Morningstar hit shots. What he does well, which is moving the ball and getting others open shots, he didn't do well against Memphis.

Self likes traveling away from home for early-season games. You have a better chance to bond with your players, as the guys spend hours together. Those things are good for any team.

If Kansas City received an NBA team, it definitely could affect KU. NBA season tickets are expensive, and some basketball fans might have to choose between college basketball and pro basketball season tickets. Kansas State, KU and Missouri enjoy being the "professional" franchises in the area. Self loves how "college" K.C. feels in basketball. It would be nice for K.C. to have an NBA team, but the current setup doesn't stink now.

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Recap: Free throws once again cost Memphis against KU

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.

Just like the 2008 national championship game, Memphis lost Tuesday night's game against Kansas at the free-throw line.

It was a little different this time around.

In 2008, Derrick Rose's missed free throw changed history, allowing Mario Chalmers to put in his miracle to force overtime.

A handful of creative Kansas fans display a reminder of Mario Chalmers' game-tying shot in the 2008 National Championship game, during the first half against Memphis Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2010 at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

A handful of creative Kansas fans display a reminder of Mario Chalmers' game-tying shot in the 2008 National Championship game, during the first half against Memphis Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2010 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. by Nick Krug

On Tuesday night, Memphis shot 72.7 percent from the line — a percentage right in line with its season average.

So how did free throws cost Memphis the game?

This time, the Tigers didn't get to the line nearly enough.

http://www2.kusports.com/videos/2010/dec/07/33619/

Memphis came into the game getting 26 percent of its points from the free-throw line, which was the 29th-highest split nationally.

The Tigers were great at forcing teams to foul them. Coming into the game, the fewest free throws Memphis had shot in a game this season was 25.

Against KU, Memphis made it to the line only 11 times. The Tigers' eight made free throws accounted for just 11.8 percent of their scoring total.

If Memphis just had an average night from the line, shooting 10-15 more free throws, then all of a sudden a 13-point game becomes interesting down the stretch.

Kansas guard Tyrel Reed (left) defends against a shot by Memphis guard Will Barton during the first half of the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden in New York.

Kansas guard Tyrel Reed (left) defends against a shot by Memphis guard Will Barton during the first half of the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden in New York. by Nick Krug

Credit KU's guards for cutting off the driving lanes while keeping their hands to themselves.

KU's defensive play against Memphis' guards is a non-story today, but if KU had lost, it most likely would have been the main story.

The Jayhawks' perimeter defense did very well for itself against a Tigers team that was forcing almost all its opponents into defensive mistakes.

Meanwhile, Memphis coach Josh Pastner might be scratching his head today wondering just how he should prepare his team to play the Jayhawks the next time around.

Kansas guard Brady Morningstar blocks a shot by Memphis guard Will Barton during the second half of the Jimmy V Classic Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2010 at Madison Square Garden in New York.

Kansas guard Brady Morningstar blocks a shot by Memphis guard Will Barton during the second half of the Jimmy V Classic Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2010 at Madison Square Garden in New York. by Nick Krug

In the two games he's coached against KU, his Memphis team had almost identical struggles offensively: It shot poorly and also had extremely low assist numbers.

Take a look.

Memphis's 41.1 eFG% was its fifth-lowest in the last two seasons. Last year against KU, Memphis had a 40.0 eFG%.

The Tigers also only had assists on 37 percent of their field goals. Two of their three lowest assist percentages in the last two years have come against KU.

Memphis senior forward Will Coleman seemed to sense his teammates weren't playing together against KU.

Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor looks to pass against the Memphis defense during the second half of the Jimmy V Classic Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2010 at Madison Square Garden in New York.

Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor looks to pass against the Memphis defense during the second half of the Jimmy V Classic Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2010 at Madison Square Garden in New York. by Nick Krug

"I’m not going to lie. I talked to them (teammates). I told them, ‘There’s a lot of selfishness. A lot of one-on-one going on,'" Coleman said after the game. "We can’t have that if we’re trying to accomplish what we want to accomplish."

M.O.J. (Most Outstanding Jayhawk)

Though he battled foul trouble in the first half, KU forward Markieff Morris finished as the Jayhawks' most efficient player.

Kansas forward Markieff Morris fights for the ball with Memphis guard Chris Crawford during the first half of the Jimmy V Classic Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2010 at Madison Square Garden in New York.

Kansas forward Markieff Morris fights for the ball with Memphis guard Chris Crawford during the first half of the Jimmy V Classic Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2010 at Madison Square Garden in New York. by Nick Krug

He produced a whopping 1.53 points per possession used while ending 18 percent of KU's possessions while he was in there (just below NCAA average). He also grabbed 21.7 percent of the available defensive rebounds and also dished out 17.8 percent of KU's assists when he was on the floor.

Perhaps most importantly for Markieff, in a game where many of his teammates had trouble holding onto the ball, he was sure-handed. He had just one turnover in 24 minutes in a game where his brother, Marcus, almost doubled his turnover count for the season (5 in the game, now 11 on the season).

Room for Improvement

The stats tell us what we already know: KU turned it over too many times against Memphis.

Kansas guard Tyrel Reed comes away with the ball as he is pressured by Memphis defenders Will Barton (5) and Charles Carmouche (4) during the first half of the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden in New York.

Kansas guard Tyrel Reed comes away with the ball as he is pressured by Memphis defenders Will Barton (5) and Charles Carmouche (4) during the first half of the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden in New York. by Nick Krug

The game turned out similar to last year's KU-Memphis game, as the Tigers' quickness and length defensively gave the Jayhawks fits both games. Two of KU's top three turnover percentage games in the last two years have come against Memphis, as KU turned it over on 29.7 percent of its possessions Tuesday.

The Jayhawks were able to overcome the giveaways by shooting a great percentage (62.5 eFG%) while also dominating the Tigers on the offensive glass (grabbing 44.8 percent of the offensive rebounds, its best mark of the season).

KU still managed a healthy 1.10 points per possession with 22 turnovers. Do the math, and that means the Jayhawks scored an impressive 1.56 points per possession when they didn't turn it over.

That kind of efficiency is one way to overcome a sloppy ball-handling night.

Tough-Luck Line

Are you going to believe your eyes or the stats?

We might as well call Thomas Robinson the Jeff Francoeur (Now a Royal. Ugh.) or Yuniesky Betancourt of college basketball — he's the one that oftentimes advanced statistics are not going to love.

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson gets physical with Memphis forward Tarik Black during the second half of the Jimmy V Classic Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2010 at Madison Square Garden in New York. Robinson had a double-double: 10 points, 10 boards.

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson gets physical with Memphis forward Tarik Black during the second half of the Jimmy V Classic Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2010 at Madison Square Garden in New York. Robinson had a double-double: 10 points, 10 boards. by Nick Krug

Let's say this first: Robinson was absolutely spectacular rebounding the basketball. He pulled down 27.5 percent of the available offensive rebounds and 40.5 percent of the available defensive rebounds — both huge totals.

That's where Robinson being "active" was a positive. Unfortunately for him, the advanced numbers also point out that his being "active" actually wasn't all beneficial for the Jayhawks.

Robinson had a remarkable line for only playing 15 minutes. He put up 11 field goals and also had three turnovers.

Take a second to let that sink in. In 15 minutes, Robinson was potentially the last person to touch the basketball on a KU possession 14 times.

Robinson attempted 52.3 percent of KU's shots when he was in. He used an enormous 39.6 percent of KU's possessions when he was in.

And because he didn't shoot particularly well (5 of 11) and had three turnovers in limited minutes, Robinson was only able to contribute 0.83 points per possession used — the second-lowest number of any Jayhawk and the lowest by any Jayhawk that scored.

Self said that Robinson was KU's best performer of the game, and I'm sure most of that evaluation had to do with his excellent rebounding.

Kansas head coach Bill Self encourages his defense during the first half of the Jimmy V Classic Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2010 at Madison Square Garden in New York.

Kansas head coach Bill Self encourages his defense during the first half of the Jimmy V Classic Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2010 at Madison Square Garden in New York. by Nick Krug

Robinson's usage will be a story to follow all year. Right now, he's a role player, yet he still consumes more possessions (28.3 percent) than any other Jayhawk when he's out there.

Bottom Line

It might have looked sloppy at times, but outside of turnovers, the Jayhawks performed extremely well against Memphis on a neutral court.

Kansas forward Marcus Morris comes out to defend against Memphis guard Antonio Barton during the second half of the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden in New York.

Kansas forward Marcus Morris comes out to defend against Memphis guard Antonio Barton during the second half of the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden in New York. by Nick Krug

The Jayhawks were remarkably efficient when they did get shots. They dominated the glass. They forced the Tigers into selfish play on the offensive end.

And, perhaps most importantly, they forced the Tigers to earn their points from the floor instead of bailing them out by putting them on the free-throw line.

File this victory in this year's "KU-played-better-than-expected" cabinet — a file that seems to be getting awfully crowded already.

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Take a trip around Lawrence to see the Christmas Lights

My wife and I took a trip around Lawrence on Saturday to check out the homes in Lawrence that had listed themselves on our 2010 Holiday Lights Map.

A snapshot of our interactive map.

A snapshot of our interactive map. by Jonathan Kealing

It took us about two hours, but we looked at all the lights and, I can safely say, there are people in this town who go all out for Christmas specifically and the holiday season in general.

Of course, there's Zach and Alicia Stoltenberg's house on Larissa Drive, which Brenna Hawley wrote about last week, and Mary Ann and Gary Martin, who I wrote about two years ago, but there are so many other great light shows. Do yourself a favor and spend a couple hours one night checking out the lights around Lawrence.

It'll definitely put you in the holiday spirit. If you can't, however, here are some woefully inadequate pictures I took with my cell phone of most of the homes depicted on our map.

3405 Westridge Court

I must shamefully admit to forgetting to use my camera at this house. But I didn't want to leave them off the list because not only is their house nicely decorated, several of their neighbors have great decorations as well. If you're doing the whole tour, stop by here.

3947 Aster Street

3947 Aster Street

3947 Aster Street by Jonathan Kealing

This house won the award for being the hardest to find. Google thought it was about three blocks west of where it was, which sent me onto rural country roads until a little more checking led me to the right location. Simple, tasteful white lights. No music or animation.

909 Stonecreek Drive

909 Stonecreek Drive

909 Stonecreek Drive by Jonathan Kealing

This was the first musical light display we visited. Upbeat Christmas songs are played as the lights flash and pulse sort of to the beat of the music. This display is not as coordinated or elaborate as Light Up Lawrence or Parkside Christmas, but it was still very nice. A bonus is that many of the houses on Stonecreek Drive have lined their sidewalks and driveways with white lights, tying the whole neighborhood together.

4901 Jefferson Way

4901 Jefferson Way

4901 Jefferson Way by Jonathan Kealing

A smaller display just a little east of Stonecreek Drive, I was impressed with what this family was able to do with a small space. Though the picture doesn't nearly do the display justice, the blobs of white light are actually animals that have slight movement.

4518 Larissa Drive

4518 Larissa Drive

4518 Larissa Drive by Jonathan Kealing

On my way to the Light Up Lawrence display, and as I was cueing up in the knot of traffic that was also checking out the Stoltenbergs' display, I noticed this house at 4518 Larissa. They've put up some great lights on trees, on candy canes and around their house.

4530 Larissa Drive

4530 Larissa Drive

4530 Larissa Drive by Jonathan Kealing

This is definitely one of the two best light displays in Lawrence, but getting a photo is tough because the great lights come not from a single frame, but rather from how it changes and evolves with the music. Light Up Lawrence is raising money this year for St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital. As I watched the 20+ minute display, I was really pleased to see three different people get out of their car and go drop a couple of bucks in the box.

4216 Goldfield Street

4216 Goldfield Street

4216 Goldfield Street by Jonathan Kealing

When I pulled up to the house on Goldfield Street, I couldn't help but want to whistle KU's Rock Chalk Chant. The lights are mostly red and blue, with some candy canes. I think the Jayhawk painted onto the curb was a nice touch as well.

4600 Block of Woodridge Drive

4600 Block of Woodridge Drive

4600 Block of Woodridge Drive by Jonathan Kealing

The neighbors on Woodridge Drive team up to string white lights not across their houses, but across their yards and the street. It presents a unique display that's unlike any other in Lawrence and is definitely something to look at.

1305 Vantuyl Drive

1305 Vantuyl Drive

1305 Vantuyl Drive by Jonathan Kealing

This is one of the most colorful displays in Lawrence. With lots of lights and a gigantic inflatable snowman, it's a tough house to miss.

4100 W 13th Street

4100 W 13th Street

4100 W 13th Street by Jonathan Kealing

Tucked back in a wooded area north of Bob Billings Parkway, this is a light display you definitely need to be looking for to find. It has a tasteful mix of white and colored lights.

1132 Parkside Circle

1132 Parkside Circle

1132 Parkside Circle by Jonathan Kealing

Parkside Christmas is probably the most well-known animated light display in Lawrence. We've mentioned it in a couple stories, and everyone sees to know about it. When I was there Saturday night, there were cars lined up and down both sides of the road, making it a bit tricky to get a great view of the more than 20 minute show. Each year, Gary and Mary Ann Martin add a new song or light fixture to the display, or both. Again, the photo doesn't do the display justice because it's really the way the lights shift and change with the music that makes it so outstanding.

2920 Pebble Lane

2920 Pebble Lane

2920 Pebble Lane by Jonathan Kealing

This display is farther south than any of the other displays on our list, but it was worth the trip. The lights are animated and set to music — and it's a lot of songs I hadn't heard at any of the other animated displays. The radio station for the music is pretty weak, so you have to be right across from the house to hear it. But once you're there, it's a great show.

Remember, if you want you house's light display to show up on this list, just fill out this form.

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ESPN: NCAA says official made correct call at end of KU-UCLA game

If any Kansas fans were feeling guilty about Thursday night's 77-76 victory over UCLA, this might make them feel a bit better.

In an Andy Katz blog entry on ESPN, the NCAA head of officiating John Adams said that official Doug Sermons made the right call on UCLA's Malcolm Lee in the final seconds.

Kansas forward Mario Little and the Jayhawks' bench look for a foul after a last-second attempt by Little for a shot against UCLA during the second half, Thursday, Dec. 2, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse. A foul was called on UCLA guard Malcolm Lee sending Little to the line in which he hit the game-winning free throw to grab a 77-76 win.

Kansas forward Mario Little and the Jayhawks' bench look for a foul after a last-second attempt by Little for a shot against UCLA during the second half, Thursday, Dec. 2, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse. A foul was called on UCLA guard Malcolm Lee sending Little to the line in which he hit the game-winning free throw to grab a 77-76 win. by Nick Krug

The foul call allowed Mario Little to hit the game-winning free throw with 0.7 seconds remaining. “The refs reacted properly," Adams told Katz. "The only argument you can make is whether or not it was a foul. It’s a foul. The Kansas kid has control of the ball. It’s incredibly unfortunate to end the game like that. But I’ve looked at the tape this morning and Doug called the foul like he’s supposed to."

For more on the call, be sure to check out Katz's blog through the link above.

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Cliff’s Notes: Turner Gill press conference, 12/3/10

Here is the Cliff's Notes version of Kansas football coach Turner Gill's comments at his final weekly 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.Gill outlines why KU fans should be excited about next season: 1. KU coaches understand the player they have better; 2. KU will have better speed; 3. KU will have better depth; 4. KU's staff has a history of building programs.

Gill says offensive lineman Dylan Admire and running back Darrian Miller will join KU in the spring semester.

Gill says he is selling this to his recruits: 1. A championship staff; 2. A chance to play right away; 3. A chance to play on national TV; 4. Good facilities.

Fullback Steven Foster and cornerback Ryan Murphy are no longer with the program. One will graduate in the spring. Another will graduate in the summer.

Defensive tackle Darius Parish has decided to transfer.

Some defensive ends will be transitioned to defensive tackle in the offseason. That includes Keba Agostinho and Kevin Young. Some linebackers also will switch from outside to inside.

Gill said these red-shirt players stood out in practices: tight end Jimmay Mundine, fullback Nick Sizemore and linebacker Darius Willis.

KU cornerback Isiah Barfield will miss spring practices after shoulder surgery. KU offensive lineman Riley Spencer also will miss spring practices after shoulder surgery. Running back Rell Lewis also will be limited with injury.

Gill says KU will bring in one or two other quarterbacks.

Gill considers Admire an offensive lineman. Smith is definitely a running back. No position changes with those two are expected.

• Gill does not anticipate any other players transferring. Kale Pick is on board with being a wide receiver. Barring something unforeseen, Pick will not move back to quarterback.

Brandon Bourbon is still a running back. Gill says he will be in the hunt at the position.

Gill was pleased his offense became more physical as the year went on.

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Recap: Game was close, but shouldn’t have been that close

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.

There will be a lot of talk today about how UCLA deserved to beat Kansas. Heck, even KU coach Bill Self said his team was lucky after the Jayhawks' 77-76 victory Thursday night.

That's not telling the entire truth, though. http://www2.kusports.com/videos/2010/dec/03/33595/

Sure, UCLA played well in a tough environment. KU also had troubles stopping forwards Tyler Honeycutt and Joshua Smith.

But after looking at the stats, the Bruins probably didn't deserve to win. If anything, it was the Jayhawks that deserved to lose.

We're all guilty about talking a lot about who will be a team's go-to guy in the clutch — a player that will rise up when the game is on the line.

And while it doesn't hurt to have a player like that, the whole concept is a bit overrated. Bad calls happen. Players trip when they shouldn't. A player gets a cramp at an inopportune time. A poor shot (or a well-contested shot) goes in.

Fluky things happen in close games. Luck and chance plays a much bigger role than we give it credit for.

Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor knocks the ball loose from UCLA guard Lazeric Jones during the first half, Thursday, Dec. 2, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor knocks the ball loose from UCLA guard Lazeric Jones during the first half, Thursday, Dec. 2, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

There's not much teams can do to defend against it. That's why the best way to win a close game is to never let it get close to begin with.

Statistically, KU didn't play well, but it sure played well enough to not be tied in the final second.

Both teams shot about the same, with KU holding a slight edge in eFG% (55.5 to 53.4). UCLA grabbed two more offensive rebounds, but KU held a more significant edge in turnovers (19-15) and free throws attempted (30-22).

The Jayhawks didn't play great, but they certainly played well enough to coast to a seven-point victory or so without sweating out the final seconds.

Kansas forward Mario Little and the Jayhawks' bench look for a foul after a last-second attempt by Little for a shot against UCLA during the second half, Thursday, Dec. 2, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse. A foul was called on UCLA guard Malcolm Lee sending Little to the line in which he hit the game-winning free throw to grab a 77-76 win.

Kansas forward Mario Little and the Jayhawks' bench look for a foul after a last-second attempt by Little for a shot against UCLA during the second half, Thursday, Dec. 2, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse. A foul was called on UCLA guard Malcolm Lee sending Little to the line in which he hit the game-winning free throw to grab a 77-76 win. by Nick Krug

That didn't happen, though, as KU missed a ton of free throws (the Jayhawks were 16 of 30 for 53 percent) and made poor decisions in the final minutes.

KU led 75-69 with 2:08 left before missing three layups, committing two turnovers, missing a free throw and allowing two layups and a three-pointer defensively in the last 128 seconds.

KU's late-game play left itself open to chance.

And though the Jayhawks received the break this time on a questionable whistle, they can't count on that game-changing luck going their way every time in a close-game situation.

M.O.J. (Most Outstanding Jayhawk)

One of the easiest picks of the season. Tyshawn Taylor was spectacular for KU, stepping up offensively right when the Jayhawks needed him in the second half.

Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor hangs for a shot against UCLA guard Jerime Anderson during the second half, Thursday, Dec. 2, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor hangs for a shot against UCLA guard Jerime Anderson during the second half, Thursday, Dec. 2, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

The junior guard contributed an impressive 1.25 points per possession used while also using up an above-average 22.3 percent of KU's possessions. He also was great defensively, grabbing a steal on nearly one out of every 10 UCLA possessions that he was in (9.3 percent).

After missing his first three shots in the opening four minutes, Taylor went 7-for-7 from the floor the rest of the game. The more selective Taylor is shooting 62.5 percent from two-point range this year after making just 47.6 percent of his twos a year ago.

Room for Improvement

When I clicked on the box score, I expected bad defensive numbers from both teams.

Kansas forward Tyrel Reed puts up a three from the top of the key over UCLA guard Malcolm Lee during the first half, Thursday, Dec. 2, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Tyrel Reed puts up a three from the top of the key over UCLA guard Malcolm Lee during the first half, Thursday, Dec. 2, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

In reality, the game had a lot of possessions (74), so both teams were barely above the NCAA average in offensive efficiency. KU put up 1.04 points per possession, while UCLA had 1.03 (NCAA average is about 1.0).

Having said that, KU contributed to a pair of Bruins having career games offensively.

Sophomore Tyler Honeycutt posted 33 points — his previous career-high was 18 — while putting up a ridiculous statistical line.

Kansas guard Brady Morningstar extends to defend against a shot by UCLA forward Tyler Honeycutt during the second half, Thursday, Dec. 2, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Brady Morningstar extends to defend against a shot by UCLA forward Tyler Honeycutt during the second half, Thursday, Dec. 2, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

He contributed 1.63 points per possession used while consuming 24.1 percent of UCLA's possessions. Only KU's Brady Morningstar was able to slow Honeycutt down, and even then, the 6-foot-9 small forward was still able to make some difficult shots.

Perhaps more disturbing for KU was Joshua Smith's effort.

The 305-pounder — who hadn't played more than 20 minutes or grabbed more than seven rebounds in any game this season — posted 17 points and 13 rebounds in 28 minutes.

Kansas forward Markieff Morris fouls UCLA forward Josh Smith on the shot during the first half, Thursday, Dec. 2, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Markieff Morris fouls UCLA forward Josh Smith on the shot during the first half, Thursday, Dec. 2, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

KU had no answer for his size, as the 6-foot-10 freshman came away with 33.6 percent of the available offensive rebounds and 20.4 percent of the available defensive rebounds when he was on the court.

That makes two games in a row when KU's defense hasn't been able to match up defensively against an opponent's big man (Arizona's Derrick Williams was the other).

The Jayhawks' post defenders aren't getting good defensive position, so they're forced to foul later in the possession.

Fouls turn into foul trouble, then KU is forced to a small lineup, where it is hurt even more by the opponent's dominant big men.

Self is well aware of the problem, and basically challenged his forwards to play better defensively, telling reporters the way to beat the Jayhawks right now is to throw it inside and take it at KU's big men.

I'd expect Self to hammer post defense harder this week than he has all season.

Tough-Luck Line

I guess we should expect a dominant effort by Thomas Robinson against Memphis on Tuesday.

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson fights for a rebound with UCLA forward Anthony Stover during the first half, Thursday, Dec. 2, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson fights for a rebound with UCLA forward Anthony Stover during the first half, Thursday, Dec. 2, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

The sophomore forward is starting a distinct pattern: good game, bad game, good game, bad game.

Take a look:

Texas A&M-Corpus Christi — 15 points, 7-for-8 shooting, five rebounds, 16 minutes
Ohio — Three points, two turnovers, four fouls (including a technical), nine minutes
Arizona — 14 points, 5-for-7 shooting, three rebounds, 19 minutes
UCLA — Two points, three rebounds, two turnovers, 18 minutes

Robinson's advanced stats weren't pretty against UCLA. He posted just 0.56 points per possession, though he limited the damage by only using 15 percent of the possessions when he was in there.

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson works his way in for a shot against UCLA forward Tyler Honeycutt during the second half, Thursday, Dec. 2, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson works his way in for a shot against UCLA forward Tyler Honeycutt during the second half, Thursday, Dec. 2, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

His rebounding numbers were nearly nonexistent, as he grabbed just 6.3 percent of the available offensive rebounds and 13 percent of the available defensive rebounds.

Robinson also struggled defensively, especially against Smith, and made some weird decisions as well, trying to lead the fast break twice instead of passing to a guard.

More consistency from Robinson could go a long way towards helping KU fix its recent problems in the post.

Bottom Line

No, KU didn't play well. But the Jayhawks did play well enough statistically to make the game less close than it was.

The Fieldhouse watches in anticipation as Kansas forward Mario Little puts up the winning free throw against UCLA with a fraction of a second remaining on the clock during the second half, Thursday, Dec. 2, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse.

The Fieldhouse watches in anticipation as Kansas forward Mario Little puts up the winning free throw against UCLA with a fraction of a second remaining on the clock during the second half, Thursday, Dec. 2, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

[Ed. Note — What is Marcus doing in the photo above? Is he praying?]

According to KenPom's win probability graph from the game, KU had about a 93-percent chance to win the game up 75-69 with 2:08 left. From there, the Jayhawks performed poorly enough to turn a near-sure win to a game decided by chance.

With a few more plays in the final two minutes (or a few more made free throws earlier), KU could have taken the luck out of it and felt a little better about winning against an improving UCLA team.

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Marcus Morris has moved past his hot-potato stage

Kansas forward Marcus Morris has played in six games this season. And he has just four turnovers.

When I first told Marcus about the statistic earlier this week, he said he thought he had more than that. After handing Marcus my stats sheet, he came up with a reason for the low number.

"They might have gave (my brother) ’Kieff some of mine," he said with a smile.

Kansas forward Marcus Morris flashes a smile as the game winds down against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi during the second half, Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Marcus Morris flashes a smile as the game winds down against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi during the second half, Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

In all seriousness, Marcus' turnover numbers this year are pretty amazing, especially considering that he wasn't always one known for protecting the basketball.

During his freshman year, Marcus picked up five turnovers in his first 47 minutes.

This season, he only has four giveaways, and that's in 151 minutes.

"Freshman year, it was kind of like hot potato," Marcus said. "It was, like, get Sherron (Collins) the ball, get Cole (Aldrich) the ball, so it was, like, give it to them by any means necessary. If the (defender's) right there, still try to give them the ball.

UT's Clint Chapman tries to take the ball from Kansas forward Marcus Morris on Saturday, March 7, 2009 at Allen Fieldhouse.

UT's Clint Chapman tries to take the ball from Kansas forward Marcus Morris on Saturday, March 7, 2009 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Richard Gwin

"This year, when I’m getting it in my hand, I’m holding it. I’m comfortable with it, and I’m making the right plays."

Marcus has made a steady progression over the last three years in regards to turnovers. During his freshman year, he turned it over on 21.9 percent of the possessions he used. His sophomore year, that number was down to 13.6 percent.

This year, it's 6.1 percent.

Kansas forward Marcus Morris fights his way out of a trap by Texas A&M-Corpus Christi defenders Justin Reynolds, right, and Horace Bond during the first half, Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Marcus Morris fights his way out of a trap by Texas A&M-Corpus Christi defenders Justin Reynolds, right, and Horace Bond during the first half, Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

"That’s just good to know that I’m protecting the ball a little bit, not being as careless as I was in previous years," Marcus said. "I think that’s a part of my game, knowing that I’m one of the leaders on this team, that I’ve got to lead by example by protecting the ball. If you see one of your leaders turning it over less than anyone, then I think the team will follow."

So far, the Jayhawks have.

One of the reasons that the Jayhawks are tied for the top offense in the nation (according to KenPom) is because of their low turnover numbers this year.

Kansas teammates Tyshawn Taylor, Marcus Morris (22) and Travis Releford come together for high fives during the second half Friday, Nov 19, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas teammates Tyshawn Taylor, Marcus Morris (22) and Travis Releford come together for high fives during the second half Friday, Nov 19, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

The Jayhawks haven't faced great competition yet, but so far, they've only turned it over on 15.9 percent of their possessions — good for 14th nationally.

For perspective, KU coach Bill Self has only had one team turn it over less than 19 percent of its possessions, and that was last year, when KU gave it away on 18.8 percent of its possessions.

Under Self, the Jayhawks have never ranked in the top 60 in offensive turnover percentage.

KU is fortunate. Not only is Marcus Morris getting great shots and making almost all of those shots (his eFG of 73.8% is 17th nationally), he's also taking care of the ball when it's in his hands.

Kansas forward Marcus Morris comes down from a dunk against North Texas during the second half Friday, Nov 19, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Marcus Morris comes down from a dunk against North Texas during the second half Friday, Nov 19, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

It's remarkable how far he's come in two years.

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Cliff’s Notes: Bill Self press conference, 11/29/10

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. • Self thinks KU played better against Arizona than Ohio. KU moved the ball well and made plays when the game got tight. The Jayhawks played pretty smart down the stretch.

Travis Releford made shots in Las Vegas. Is he getting extra possessions? Is he getting on the glass? He's got to be more than a shooter for KU. Points can be misleading when you determine how a player is playing.

Thomas Robinson was awful against Ohio, but terrific against Arizona. He played the best when KU needed someone to play well. He and Travis and Elijah Johnson gave KU great minutes off the bench.

Robinson's mid-range jumpers are only good if he makes them. Why settle for that shot when he's so so good at driving?

• UCLA is a lot better this year. The Bruins have the same players back from last year and have added a few pieces.

The first eight minutes against Arizona, KU played about as well as it could play offensively. That was fabulous. It was fun to watch. You're not going to play that way over the course of 40 minutes. The negative thing Self would say is that when you make shots, you have tendency to get lazy defensively. This team thinks it can outscore people, which isn't the mind-set it should have.

What Arizona forward Derrick Williams did so well is he faced up in the post, then drove it to the paint to initiate contact. Marcus and Markieff Morris and Thomas Robinson should be better at that.

Markieff was the best player in last year's UCLA game. Neither team played great, but it was a good win for KU.

The Morris twins' fouls are silly fouls. You can't put your hands on people when they are driving. KU's guys are going to foul; they just have to avoid the silly fouls.

Marcus Morris deserves Big 12 player of the week. He's been great. Marcus scored in almost every way against Arizona.

KU's shot selection has been pretty good. The Jayhawks are shooting 58 percent, and you only do that if you take good shots. This team is capable of being a really good offensive team.

A shot is a good or bad shot when it leaves a player's hand, regardless of whether it goes in or not.

Self thought KU played really well when it was down four. Tyrel mades some great plays driving the ball. The best part was bench guys played a big role. KU played intelligent, took good shots and defended better.

• Self says he told Reed on Sunday that his shooting is the last thing he is worried about with the senior. He's going to make shots. He's been less aggressive shooting the ball lately. He's always been selective, but he can be more aggressive this year. If he has space, that's a good shot for KU.

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Recap: After not knowing what to expect, Arizona game goes as expected

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 know, what happens in Vegas is supposed to stay in Vegas, but I have to share the funny story (or, depending on who you are, a not funny story) that took place as time was winding down in Kansas' 87-79 victory over Arizona on Saturday night.

http://www2.kusports.com/photos/galle... After a missed free throw by KU's Marcus Morris, Arizona's Lamont Jones raced down the court and put in a meaningless layup with less than 10 seconds left.

Only this is Las Vegas, so there are rarely meaningless layups.

The shot had knocked KU's deficit down to eight, but also had pushed the Jayhawks' lead under the spread of 8.5 points.

Poor Tyrel Reed. Once he received the inbounds pass, simply wanting to run out the clock on a victory, he was screamed at by a few thousand of his own team's fans, who urged him to run down the court to take a shot to try to save their bets.

Kansas guard Tyrel Reed elevates for a bucket past Arizona forward Solomon Hill during the first half of the Las Vegas Invitational, Saturday, Nov. 27, 2010 at the Orleans Arena.

Kansas guard Tyrel Reed elevates for a bucket past Arizona forward Solomon Hill during the first half of the Las Vegas Invitational, Saturday, Nov. 27, 2010 at the Orleans Arena. by Nick Krug

The guard took a few dribbles to finish out the time, no doubt wondering what had come over the Jayhawks fans that were begging him to run up the score.

If you have a friend here in Vegas for these games, it's likely he/she is a bit poorer today.

In the three years I've been covering the Jayhawks, it was the most awkward victory celebration by KU fans that I've seen.

Back on topic: What did we learn following KU's 87-79 victory over Arizona?

http://www2.kusports.com/videos/2010/nov/28/33551/

Well, a lot. And not much. If that makes any sense.

Neither KU nor Arizona had played a top-100 KenPom opponent coming into the game, so both teams' fanbases might have wondered a bit just how good their teams really were.

So after the Jayhawks and Wildcats played a back-and-forth, fast-paced, entertaining game on Saturday night, I came away thinking two things:

1. Kansas is pretty good against a good opponent.

2. Arizona is pretty good against a good opponent.

I'm going to sound a bit like everyone's mother here, but really, the result was what both teams needed.

Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor knocks the ball loose from Arizona forward Brendon Lavender during the first half of the Las Vegas Invitational, Saturday, Nov. 27, 2010 at the Orleans Arena.

Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor knocks the ball loose from Arizona forward Brendon Lavender during the first half of the Las Vegas Invitational, Saturday, Nov. 27, 2010 at the Orleans Arena. by Nick Krug

Arizona showed, even after falling behind by 16 early, that it could hold its own (and, for most of the middle 20 minutes, outplay) one of the best teams in the nation. Even after losing by eight, don't you think UA coach Sean Miller feels better about his team today than he did 24 hours ago?

Forward Derrick Williams sounds like he does.

"We may not have won, but we played hard," Williams said after the game. "It was the closest game they had this year and will probably be one of their closest games all season."

The Wildcats, who were ranked 12th in KenPom's rankings before the game, actually moved up four spots to No. 8 after the close loss.

KU (which stayed in KenPom's top spot) received exactly what it needed, too: an early-season challenge, and a chance to see its previously untested players perform in high-pressure situations.

Kansas defenders Tyrel Reed, left, and Markieff Morris collapse on a shot by Arizona guard Kyle Fogg during the second half of the Las Vegas Invitational, Saturday, Nov. 27, at the Orleans Arena.

Kansas defenders Tyrel Reed, left, and Markieff Morris collapse on a shot by Arizona guard Kyle Fogg during the second half of the Las Vegas Invitational, Saturday, Nov. 27, at the Orleans Arena. by Nick Krug

Because of Marcus Morris' foul trouble, KU was forced to steal minutes from a smaller lineup for most of the middle part of the second half.

The Jayhawks also saw Tyrel Reed, Mario Little, Travis Releford and Thomas Robinson make big plays at significant times.

Though there's a lot to work on, I'd have to think there's a good chance KU coach Bill Self also feels better about his own team than he did 24 hours ago.

Statistically, KU can thank good shooting and ball security for the final margin of victory. After making 11 of their first 14 shots, KU posted a 58.8 eFG% — 5.5-percent higher than Arizona's mark.

Kansas forward Marcus Morris turns for a shot over Arizona forward Jamelle Horne during the first half of the Las Vegas Invitational, Saturday, Nov. 27, at the Orleans Arena.

Kansas forward Marcus Morris turns for a shot over Arizona forward Jamelle Horne during the first half of the Las Vegas Invitational, Saturday, Nov. 27, at the Orleans Arena. by Nick Krug

The Jayhawks also only turned it over on 16.4 percent of its possessions, while Arizona was much more careless, giving it away on 26 percent of its possessions.

M.O.J. (Most Outstanding Jayhawk)

After Friday's game, I posted in the blog that Thomas Robinson needed to quickly forget about his poor performance against Ohio.

Good thing for KU he did. The Jayhawks might not have won otherwise.

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson elevates for a bucket between  Arizona defenders Lamont Jones, left, and Kyryl Natyazhko during the first half of the Las Vegas Invitational, Saturday, Nov. 27, 2010 at the Orleans Arena.

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson elevates for a bucket between Arizona defenders Lamont Jones, left, and Kyryl Natyazhko during the first half of the Las Vegas Invitational, Saturday, Nov. 27, 2010 at the Orleans Arena. by Nick Krug

Robinson beats out Marcus Morris for the M.O.J. after providing one of the most efficient efforts of his KU career. The 6-foot-9 sophomore posted an impressive 1.64 points per possession used while also using up a good chunk of KU's possessions when he was in there (20.1 percent).

After the game, Robinson said he was amped up after one of the Arizona assistant coaches yelled out that he couldn't shoot.

Though Robinson doesn't have the reputation of being a good jump-shooter just yet, he did make almost all his mid-range shots on Saturday. He also had no turnovers, which might have been his best stat of the night.

Though it didn't show up in the box score, Robinson still could use some lowering of his trash-talk percentage, which remains awfully high for a player in a reserve role.

Room for Improvement

At one point in the first half, KU coach Bill Self yelled at his players from the bench: "Are you going to guard anybody?"

For a while, Self's question was valid.

Kansas guard Brady Morningstar defends against a shot by Arizona center Solomon Hill as Tyrel Reed takes the charge during the first half of the Las Vegas Invitational, Saturday, Nov. 27, 2010 at the Orleans Arena.

Kansas guard Brady Morningstar defends against a shot by Arizona center Solomon Hill as Tyrel Reed takes the charge during the first half of the Las Vegas Invitational, Saturday, Nov. 27, 2010 at the Orleans Arena. by Nick Krug

KU couldn't stop Arizona's Derrick Williams in the post (though I'm not sure how many teams will this year) while also allowing penetration by guards which led to open looks on threes.

Not surprisingly, it was the first time all year KU allowed more than a point per possession (1.08, to be exact). Arizona's 53.3 eFG% was about five-percent higher than the NCAA average, while the Wildcats also made 10 of 27 three-pointers (37 percent).

I'm not going to get too down on KU's three-point defense, which still is No. 1 in the nation at 21.1 percent, but as a whole, the Jayhawks didn't do much to stop Arizona from putting the ball in the hoop. If Arizona had avoided turnovers just a little better, the game might have had a different outcome.

Tough-Luck Line

Though he had some big baskets late, KU forward Markieff Morris' statistical line was easily his worst of the season.

Kansas forward Markieff Morris wrestles for a loose ball with Arizona forward Jamelle Horne during the first half of the Las Vegas Invitational, Saturday, Nov. 27, 2010 at the Orleans Arena.

Kansas forward Markieff Morris wrestles for a loose ball with Arizona forward Jamelle Horne during the first half of the Las Vegas Invitational, Saturday, Nov. 27, 2010 at the Orleans Arena. by Nick Krug

The junior, who battled foul trouble along with his brother Marcus, posted only 0.76 points per possession, and that's while using a whopping 38.3 percent of KU's possessions when he was in there.

Markieff's main problem was turnovers. He gave it away on 28.5 percent of the possessions he was in, finishing with four turnovers in just 20 minutes. His rebounding numbers also were low for his standards, as he had just three boards and pulled down only 5.4 percent of the available defensive rebounds while he was on the floor.

Bottom Line

Though there were questions about both KU and Arizona entering Saturday's games, I'd have to say afterwards that both teams are who we thought they were.

Arizona is an up-and-coming team that is most likely deserving of a national ranking. Arizona forward Derrick Williams is a stud (he posted 1.17 points per possession while using up 34 percent of his team's possessions — superstar numbers) and should be a tough matchup for every team left on the Wildcats' schedule.

Meanwhile, KU's first five blowouts weren't a fluke, either.

Kansas guard Travis Releford waves to the crowd following the Jayhawks' 87-79 win over Arizona, Saturday, Nov. 27, at the Orleans Arena.

Kansas guard Travis Releford waves to the crowd following the Jayhawks' 87-79 win over Arizona, Saturday, Nov. 27, at the Orleans Arena. by Nick Krug

On Saturday, the Jayhawks were tested against a good team away from home, lost all momentum, then responded to regain the lead for good with an untested lineup on the floor and their best player on the bench.

And all that happened with the final score somehow hitting just a half-point off the Vegas line.

In other words, though we didn't know exactly what to expect from either team Saturday night, the game ended up going, well, pretty much as expected.

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Recap: Meet your new No. 1 …

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 getting difficult to come up with new adjectives to describe just how well this Kansas team is playing through five games this season.

So here's one we haven't been able to use with KU until today: No. 1 in the nation.

Kansas fans slap hands with the Jayhawks as they leave the floor following their 98-41 win over Ohio, Friday, Nov. 26, 2010 at the Orleans Arena.

Kansas fans slap hands with the Jayhawks as they leave the floor following their 98-41 win over Ohio, Friday, Nov. 26, 2010 at the Orleans Arena. by Nick Krug

Following KU's 98-41 demolishing of Ohio (KU was only an 18.5-point favorite), there's a new No. 1 team in Ken Pomeroy's college basketball ratings.

That's right. It's the Kansas Jayhawks, who leapfrogged both Duke and Ohio State to take the top spot.

Before we talk about the highlights against Ohio (and there were plenty of them), let's look at just how good KU has been through five games, according to KenPom's statistics.

Currently, KU is ...

• No. 1 in the nation in adjusted defensive efficiency (a number that takes into account schedule strength).

No. 2 in the nation in adjusted offensive efficiency.

• No. 1 in the nation in effective field goal percentage (64.8 percent).

No. 1 in the nation in two-point field-goal percentage (66.7 percent).

No. 1 in the nation in three-point field-goal percentage defense (16.7 percent).

Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor defends a shot by Ohio guard Nick Kellogg during the second half of the Las Vegas Invitational, Friday, Nov. 26, 2010 at the Orleans Arena.

Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor defends a shot by Ohio guard Nick Kellogg during the second half of the Las Vegas Invitational, Friday, Nov. 26, 2010 at the Orleans Arena. by Nick Krug

I know, I know. KU's schedule is only ranked 226th according to KenPom. That'll fix itself, as KU takes on KenPom's 12th-ranked (Arizona), 46th-ranked (UCLA) and 21st-ranked (Memphis) teams over its next three games.

One other tidbit: KenPom now gives KU an 8.46-percent chance of going undefeated in the regular season and a 16.37-percent chance of going unbeaten in Big 12 play.

That's definitely not a prediction, but it does show just how well the Jayhawks have performed statistically through five games this season.

As for the Ohio game, here's a few of the impressive numbers (deep breath).

Even in a game with 73 possessions (well above the NCAA average), KU still allowed only 41 points. That means Ohio managed just 0.56 points per possession, its worst offensive showing in at least 15 seasons.

Ohio's eFG% of 23.7 percent also was the lowest for the team in at least 15 years.

Ohio was 0-for-18 from three-point range, its worst outside shooting performance since an 0-for-19 effort against St. Bonaventure on Dec. 5, 1997.

Ohio’s 41 points tied for the worst offensive showing in the team’s last 15 seasons.

KU scored 1.34 points per possession, its second-best outing this year.

It's hard to overstate how good KU was Friday night.

M.O.J. (Most Outstanding Jayhawk)

Travis Releford probably played his best game as a Jayhawk, but it wasn't enough to take this honor away from Marcus Morris.

Kansas forwards Markieff Morris (21) and Marcus Morris (22) react to a dunk by teammate Elijah Johnson during the second half against Ohio, Friday, Nov. 26, 2010 at the Orleans Arena.

Kansas forwards Markieff Morris (21) and Marcus Morris (22) react to a dunk by teammate Elijah Johnson during the second half against Ohio, Friday, Nov. 26, 2010 at the Orleans Arena. by Nick Krug

The KU junior scored 26 points on just 14 field-goal attempts (he made 11 of them) in 24 minutes. He posted 1.30 points per possession used, and that's while using a whopping 31.9 percent of KU's possessions while he was on the floor. Marcus also was active on the boards, picking up 18.5 percent of available offensive rebounds and 14.4 percent of available defensive rebounds.

But he did double his turnover count for the season, as he had two against Ohio. Now, he has a whopping four turnovers in 126 minutes this season.

Marcus has managed to increase his aggressiveness without having his efficiency take any sort of a dip. Even when Josh Selby completes his suspension, KU's offense should run through Marcus.

Room for Improvement

Uh, well, um ... Here we go. KU only had steals on 5.5 percent of its defensive possessions, well below its season average of 12.7 percent.

Then again, KU had five steals but still forced 22 Ohio turnovers. (The Bobcats turned it over on 30.1 percent of their possessions). Ohio threw the ball away a lot, but the official scorer might have also missed a couple of KU steals.

Kansas guard Elijah Johnson elevates to knock away a pass by Ohio forward Ricardo Johnson during the first half of the Las Vegas Invitational, Friday, Nov. 26, 2010 at the Orleans Arena. At right is Kansas guard Travis Releford.

Kansas guard Elijah Johnson elevates to knock away a pass by Ohio forward Ricardo Johnson during the first half of the Las Vegas Invitational, Friday, Nov. 26, 2010 at the Orleans Arena. At right is Kansas guard Travis Releford. by Nick Krug

So "room for improvement" goes to KU's ball-swiping defenders. Or the official scorer. You make the call.

Tough-Luck Line

It wasn't the best night for KU forward Thomas Robinson, who had been playing well coming in.

Kansas forward Marcus Morris shoots over Ohio forward DeVa Washington during the first half of the Las Vegas Invitational, Friday, Nov. 26, 2010 at the Orleans Arena.

Kansas forward Marcus Morris shoots over Ohio forward DeVa Washington during the first half of the Las Vegas Invitational, Friday, Nov. 26, 2010 at the Orleans Arena. by Nick Krug

The sophomore had three points, two turnovers and four fouls (along with a technical foul for talking trash) in his nine minutes. He posted just 0.7 points per possession used and turned it over on two-thirds of his used possessions.

KU will need him to forget about the bad game quickly, as he'll still be the Jayhawks' first big man off the bench against Arizona.

Bottom Line

In the last blog, we talked about KU making the average teams go bad.

On Friday, the Jayhawks made a decent team go absolutely terrible.

Kansas head coach Bill Self slaps hands with Jayhawk fans after their 98-41 win over Ohio, Friday, Nov. 26, 2010 at the Orleans Arena.

Kansas head coach Bill Self slaps hands with Jayhawk fans after their 98-41 win over Ohio, Friday, Nov. 26, 2010 at the Orleans Arena. by Nick Krug

If you're a KU fan and you can't appreciate what KU coach Bill Self and his team have accomplished through these first five games, then it might be time to find a different team or a different sport.

The Jayhawks have shown a level of dominance against inferior opponents so far this year that might be unprecedented in school history. KU's average margin of victory is 40.8 points through five games. That's unheard of at the Div. I level.

KU takes on an underrated Arizona team tonight, and KenPom lists the game as KU's fourth-toughest left on the schedule.

Tonight, we'll see how No. 1 responds to its toughest challenge of the season.

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Breakdown: Oklahoma State wins leverage battle during goal-line stand

Welcome back to "Breakdown," where we'll look at some KU plays each week and try to go a little more in-depth into why they did or didn't work.

For this blog, I have consulted a Div. II offensive assistant coach, someone we'll just call "Coach."

This week, I've put together Oklahoma State's two goal-line stands from the 1-yard line during its 48-14 victory over KU last week.

Let's start with the first play: KU's third-and-goal from the 1.

Coach says that the Jayhawks are using a "pin and pull" scheme on the left side of the offensive line — the direction where this run is supposed to go.

What does that mean? Well, it's basically a read play at the line by KU left tackle Tanner Hawkinson (No. 72) and left guard Sal Capra (No. 59).

Once the two players get to the line, it's a matter of determining who is "covered" and who is "uncovered."

The lineman who is "covered" — or has a defensive lineman in front of him — will simply block that man.

The lineman who is "uncovered" — or does not have a defensive lineman in front of him — will end up pulling around the edge for a block.

In this case, Hawkinson is covered and Capra is uncovered, meaning Hawkinson will "pin down" his defender while Capra "pulls."

The key block here is going to be Capra attempting to block Oklahoma State's stand-up linebacker. Coach says the running back is probably supposed to hit this run just to the inside of Capra.

So what ends up happening? Coach says the linebacker uses "wrong-shoulder" technique to bust up this play.

Because this linebacker doesn't have outside contain, he jumps to the inside of Capra to try to stop the running play.

When the linebacker gets penetration, KU running back Angus Quigley is forced to run back to the inside instead of the outside.

The inside part of this play has much more traffic, and Quigley is stopped before he gets to the goal line.

"(The linebacker) doesn’t end up making the tackle, but he’s the one who really forces a big pile right in there," Coach says. "If the left guard does a better job of getting up into the line of scrimmage and getting this guy kicked out, then the running back will cut right off his butt right into the end zone."

We'll talk more about what Capra could do better in a second.

Though the second play looks very similar to the first, Coach notices some subtle differences in the blocking.

The most important of which is the tight end, Tim Biere.

On the first play, Biere ignores the stand-up linebacker on the outside, instead going to the second level to block a defender.

On the second play, Biere blocks the stand-up linebacker — the same player Capra tried to block on the previous play.

Once again, Capra's job will be to pull around to get the key block, this time on the outside linebacker.

But, once again, an OSU linebacker is able to get penetration to derail the running play.

"Oklahoma State’s defenders are doing a good job of being aggressive, working downhill," Coach says. "Low man on the goal line wins. They’re playing with good pad level, good leverage. They’re doing a nice job of rallying to the ball."

Meanwhile, Coach says Capra could have done a better job of putting KU in a position to succeed.

For one, Capra is taking a long time to make his pulling block.

"He takes four steps and he’s still not really working downhill," Coach says. "He’s working parallel to the line of scrimmage. He could really just take two steps and stick his left foot in the ground and get going downhill so they can create some movement on Oklahoma State’s defensive line."

Because Capra didn't get to the line of scrimmage quickly, Coach says OSU's defenders were able to bring the punch to him.

The other problem for Capra is that he's running extremely high, which makes it difficult to get any leverage on a defender.

"You teach defenders, when you see pullers like this, to get downhill and get into the line of scrimmage," Coach says, "because the offensive lineman is going to have a lot more momentum if he gets his shoulders turned and is able to come downhill."

At 6-foot-2, 295 pounds, it's going to be tough for a defender to keep Capra from clearing a path if he has his pads down and his momentum going forward.

Unfortunately for KU, Capra starts high on his block and never gets low, allowing the Cowboys to get to him before he gets to them.

Going back to the first play, we can see that Capra runs a bit high there as well. In fact, he finishes his block almost standing straight up and down.

Coach says Capra isn't the only KU blocker who doesn't use leverage to his advantage.

On the second play, KU fullback Steven Foster uses a similar technique to Capra.

"See how high he is when he comes in there?" Coach says. "Watch the Oklahoma State linebacker bring it to him and stand him up."

The bottom line? Playing with low pad level and good leverage is not just important for running backs.

"It’s your whole offensive front and your offensive line. They’ve got to be low," Coach says. "They’ve got to be able to play with good leverage, good hands and good drive of their feet."

Though KU offensive coordinator Chuck Long might be questioned by fans for his play calls here, the simple fact is that better blocking technique most likely would have given the Jayhawks the touchdown.

"If you know you don’t have the horses up front to go get a yard, then you might think about running a different play on third down then trying to stuff it in there on fourth down, or vice versa," Coach says. "Then again, you also might want to challenge your offensive line, your fullback and your tailback to just go get one yard."

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KU football forcing turnovers at historically low rate

In a blog before the college football season, I said the easiest way for new Kansas coach Turner Gill to get the Jayhawks to six wins and a bowl game this season would be to increase his team's turnovers forced.

http://www2.kusports.com/photos/galle... We've ended up learning something different this year: The easiest way for the Jayhawks to not come close to bowl eligibility is by posting one of the worst turnover margins in Big 12 history.

Heading into Saturday's game against Missouri, KU has forced just 10 turnovers. If that number stands, it will be the second-fewest turnovers in the 15-year history of the Big 12.

Here are the teams with the fewest turnovers in the Big 12 during the last 15 years.

2010: Kansas — 10#
2009: Kansas — 17
2008: Texas — 16
2007: Nebraska — 11
2006: Iowa State — 15
2005: Oklahoma State — 20##
2004: Baylor — 9
2003: Four teams tied — 19
2002: Kansas 17
2001: Missouri — 15
2000: Nebraska — 19
1999: Baylor — 11
1998: Iowa State — 16
1997: Oklahoma — 13
1996: Missouri — 13

# — KU still has one game remaining in 2010.

## — Before 2005, college football teams played 11-game schedules instead of the current 12-game format.

Ever since he arrived at KU, Gill has put extra emphasis on creating turnovers. In fact, here's Gill's quote from before the season about takeaways.

“We’re going to emphasize protecting the ball with ball security and then take away the ball defensively," Gill said. "That’s what I believe in doing, and I’m firm believer that you get what you practice and you get what you emphasize.”

The Jayhawks work on creating turnovers every day in practice. According to linebacker Steven Johnson, KU's players go through a turnover circuit, rotating through four different drills focused on taking the ball away from the offense.

If that's the case, why are the Jayhawks on a near-record-low pace?

Pictured from left, Kansas defensive players, Richard Johnson, Steven Johnson, Olaitan Oguntodu and Tyler Patmon sit together on the bench late in the fourth quarter of the Jayhawks' 48-14 loss to Oklahoma State, Saturday, Nov. 20, 2010 at Kivisto Field.

Pictured from left, Kansas defensive players, Richard Johnson, Steven Johnson, Olaitan Oguntodu and Tyler Patmon sit together on the bench late in the fourth quarter of the Jayhawks' 48-14 loss to Oklahoma State, Saturday, Nov. 20, 2010 at Kivisto Field. by Nick Krug

KU defensive coordinator Carl Torbush said part of it is that KU has missed some opportunities. The Jayhawks have dropped some interceptions and also haven't fallen on some forced fumbles (KU has forced 13 fumbles, but has recovered only five).

Torbush still admitted that the lack of forced turnovers was "very disappointing."

"We work on it very hard. But again, it’s like we tell our players, if you don’t take what you learn in practice and relate it over to a ballgame, then it really doesn’t matter," Torbush said. "It’s just like studying for a final exam. You can study all the hours you want, but if you flunk that final, you still flunk it.

"We can practice all we want, create situations in practice, but unless we get it done in a game, it really doesn’t matter. We’ve got to do a better job of making some things happen."

This year, KU has six fewer turnovers forced than the next-lowest Big 12 team (Texas) and has barely a third of the turnovers forced as league leader Oklahoma State (27).

When I brought up that KU could end up second-worst in the category in Big 12 history at Tuesday's press conference, I received some interesting reactions from KU players and coaches.

"I feel like it just throws a little more coal into my fire," Steven Johnson said.

Added safety Phillip Strozier: "It is pretty surprising. It’s pretty mind-blowing, actually."

And the always honest Torbush: "Wow. I didn’t know that. I kind of wish you hadn’t told me that."

So where should KU go from here?

In the offseason blog, I wondered aloud whether turnovers could be taught. Gill's previous turnover numbers at Buffalo didn't appear to indicate that his "teaching" of turnovers provided a consistent boost for the Bulls.

Then, in another podcast with college football statistical analyst Bill Connelly, he talked about how his research indicated that two factors that are usually not easily repeatable year to year by teams are fumbles and interceptions.

One only needs to look at Texas as proof. After creating 37 turnovers last year and returning many of the same defensive playmakers this year, the Longhorns have forced just 16 takeaways so far.

So the question is this: Are the Jayhawks using up too much practice time each day working on something that could be more about luck than skill?

It's actually a question that most college football teams probably should ask themselves.

"For as much as we work on creating takeaways, obviously we haven’t done as good a job this year as we need to," Torbush said. "That’s something that we’ll have to address in the offseason to make sure we do a better job next year."

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