Know Your Hatred: Kansas

January 24, 1999.
February 20, 1994.
February 13, 1990.
February 1, 1989.
January 26, 1983.

It is certainly possible to win at Allen Field House.  Mizzou has done it before.  It doesn't happen much, but it happens.  And if Mizzou can win on the strength of five Jeff Hafer blocks and a freshman going off after throwing a fit a week earlier, it's certainly possible that this cast of characters can do the deed ten eleven years and one day after Mizzou's last win in Lawrence.

That said ... yeah, gonna be a tall task.

Kansas (18-1, 4-0)

KU Opp
Points Per Minute
2.12 1.54
Points Per Possession (PPP)
1.22 0.88
Points Per Shot (PPS)
1.41 1.05
2-PT FG% 53.7% 38.7%
3-PT FG% 40.7% 31.5%
FT% 71.2% 67.5%
True Shooting % 59.9% 45.8%
KU Opp
Assists/Gm 18.4 12.7
Steals/Gm 9.2 6.1
Turnovers/Gm 12.5 15.4
Ball Control Index
(Assists + Steals) / TO
2.21 1.23
KU Opp
Expected Offensive Rebounds/Gm 11.9 14.3
Offensive Rebounds/Gm 13.0 12.5
Difference +1.1 -1.8


Ken Pomeroy Stats

KU Offense vs MU Defense Ranks
KU Offense MU Defense Advantage
Efficiency 2 9 Push
Effective FG% 7 16 Push
Turnover % 34 1 MU
Off. Reb. % 33 295 KU Big
FTA/FGA 113 178 KU
MU Offense vs KU Defense Ranks
MU Offense KU Defense Advantage
Efficiency 42 3 KU
Effective FG% 58 4 KU
Turnover % 67 110 MU
Off. Reb. % 73 64 Push
FTA/FGA 236 69 KU Big

Using my "two points for a big advantage, one for a small advantage" system, KU has a 3-1 advantage when they're on offense and a 4-1 advantage when they're on defense.  That sounds about right.  Ken Pomeroy's rankings love the Jayhawks (they're #1 overall), and it's not hard not to see why -- they're the best combination of offense and defense in the country, and even though they've been a bit up-and-down recently (as up-and-down as a one-loss team can be, anyway), they have a higher ceiling than anybody else in the country.  Hopefully the quick, 2-day turnaround gives them less of an opportunity to get into the "playing against the press" mindset, but needless to say, when KU plays their A-game, they're not going to lose.  And they tend to play their A-game against Mizzou at AFH.

Where the Beaks are strongest

  1. They can shootSherron Collins shoots 40.8% from 3-point range, Xavier Henry 40.2%.  Brady Morningstar 42.9%, Tyrel Reed 40.0%, C.J. Henry 55.0% (on just 20 attempts).  In all, they're 11th in the country in 3-point shooting.  But from INSIDE 3-point range, they're damn near automatic.  Marcus Morris shoots 62.5%, Cole Aldrich 56.0%, Markieff Morris 55.7%, Collins 50.8%, Elijah Johnson 68.2% in minimal minutes.  They're 12th overall in 2-point shooting.  They move the ball well (350 assists on 567 FGs, 30th in the country), they get open shots, and they make open shots.

  2. You don't shoot well against them.  They defend the 3-ball pretty well (66th in the country) and the 2-ball as well as anybody in the country (4th).  They are 302nd in the country in defensive A/FGM (assists per field goal made), which doesn't seem very good until you realize they don't give up many field goals overall.  What that means is, the ONLY way you're getting a good look is via the pass -- no driving and finishing for you.  (That they're 12th in blocks further emphasizes this point.)

    In other words, be prepared for a LOT of drive-and-dish setups for 3-pointers.  Mizzou will live and die by the 3, which isn't tremendously exciting considering how they've been shooting recently.

Where they are weakest

  1. They don't force a ton of turnovers.  Most of KU's weakness are relative -- they don't rank anywhere near the bottom of the country in too many categories.  That said, they are only average at forcing turnovers, meaning Mizzou should have a chance to stay in the game if they are indeed making their 3's.

  2. They settle for jumpers.  When you've got Sherron Collins and toughness/driving ability, and when you've got Cole Aldrich in the post, you should rank in the top 10 in FTA/FGA (Free Throw Attempts per Field Goal Attempts).  The fact that KU ranks 113th in this category shows that they are probably shooting far too many jumpers.  Granted, they're getting by because they are a strong jump-shooting team, but with Aldrich on the interior, the best favor KU can do for Mizzou is settle for jumpers.

KU's Season to Date

  • Wins (Team Rank is from KenPom.com)
    #20 Baylor (81-75)
    #22 California (84-69)
    at #30 Temple (84-52)
    vs #41 Memphis (57-55)
    #60 Michigan (75-64)
    #62 Cornell (71-66)
    at #80 Iowa State (84-61)
    at #87 Nebraska (84-72)
    #88 Texas Tech (89-63)
    #113 Oakland (89-59)
    at #121 UCLA (73-61)
    vs #128 La Salle (90-65)
    #152 Belmont (81-51)
    #159 Hofstra (101-65)
    #203 Radford (99-64)
    #250 Tennessee Tech (112-75)
    #294 Central Arkansas (94-44)
    #347 Alcorn State (98-31)
  • Losses
    at #17 Tennessee (68-76)

Strangely enough, KU has damn near lost two of their last three home games.  Cornell and Baylor both almost snuck up and bit them at AFH.  Their biggest problem right now simply seems to be inconsistency -- they looked as good as a team can look against Temple and Texas Tech, but they almost slipped up against Baylor and Cornell and DID get knocked off by an undermanned Tennessee team.  Again, when they show up, they're deadly, but they haven't quite completely shown up every game in January.

KU Player Stats

Player AdjGS*/Gm GmSc/Min Line
Cole Aldrich (6'11, 245, Jr.) 14.4 0.56 25.7 MPG, 11.1 PPG, 9.9 RPG, 3.4 BPG, 1.5 TOPG, 2.4 PFPG (Ha!)
Sherron Collins (5'11, 205, Sr.) 13.8 0.44 31.4 MPG, 16.0 PPG, 4.3 APG, 2.1 RPG, 1.3 SPG, 1.9 TOPG
Marcus Morris (6'8, 225, So.) 12.4 0.52 23.6 MPG, 12.4 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 1.2 SPG
Xavier Henry (6'6, 220, Fr.) 12.1 0.44 27.6 MPG, 14.3 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 2.0 APG, 1.9 SPG, 1.9 TOPG
Tyshawn Taylor (6'3, 180, So.) 6.6 0.29 22.6 MPG, 6.9 PPG, 3.6 APG, 2.6 RPG, 1.1 SPG, 1.7 TOPG
Markieff Morris (6'9, 232, So.) 6.5 0.43 15.3 MPG, 6.3 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 1.1 APG, 1.1 TOPG
Brady Morningstar (6'3, 185, Jr.) 6.3 0.29 22.2 MPG, 4.8 PPG, 3.2 APG, 2.6 RPG
Tyrel Reed (6'3, 185, Jr.) 4.6 0.31 14.9 MPG, 4.5 PPG, 1.4 RPG, 1.4 APG
Elijah Johnson (6'2, 183, Fr.) 3.5 0.42 8.3 MPG, 3.3 PPG, 1.8 APG, 1.4 RPG
C.J. Henry (6'4, 205, RSFr.) 3.4 0.53 6.5 MPG, 3.6 PPG
Thomas Robinson (6'9, 230, Fr.) 2.9 0.30 9.7 MPG, 3.7 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 1.1 TOPG
Connor Teahan (6'5, 215, Jr.) 1.6 0.28 5.7 MPG, 1.7 PPG, 1.4 RPG
Jordan Juenemann (6'4, 195, So.) 0.6 0.26 25 minutes
Jeff Withey (7'0, 225, RSFr.) 3.2 0.55 23 minutes
Chase Buford (6'3, 210, Jr.) 0.5 0.26 16 minutes

* AdjGS = a take-off of the Game Score metric (definition here) accepted by a lot of basketball stat nerds.  It redistributes a team's points based not only on points scored, but also by giving credit for assists, rebounds (offensive & defensive), steals, blocks, turnovers and fouls.  It is a stat intended to determine who had the biggest overall impact on the game itself, instead of just how many balls a player put through a basket.

  • Despite the fact that he has taken only 134 shots this year (Sherron Collins has taken 220, Henry 203, Marcus Morris 146), Cole Aldrich has still managed to be KU's most valuable player through his rebounding and shot-blocking, and lord knows he played well enough against Mizzou last year to completely terrify me.
  • Tyshawn Taylor has been struggling as of late, but honestly, they're just fine without him playing well.  The four-man combination of Brady Morningstar, Tyrel Reed, Elijah Johnson and C.J. Henry have given KU a combined 37 minutes, 12 points, 5 assists and 2.5 3's a game this season, not to mention stellar defense.  Even though it's no guarantee that a guard will be playing well opposite Collins, Bill Self has a ton of options from which to choose, and it's likely that somebody will be contributing.
  • I'm very curious what happens to KU this offseason.  They have only one senior (Collins), but any number of about six different players could (foolishly or not) declare for the draft.  You have to figure Xavier Henry is gone, and lord knows I HOPE Aldrich jumps.  Beyond that, both Morris brothers and Taylor probably came to KU with the thought of declaring early, and once you've got that in your head you might tend to jump whether you're ready or not.

    (Seriously, PLEASE declare for the draft, Cole.  You're ready.  Trust me.)
  • I find it odd that now Marcus is the better of the Morris twins.  Wasn't it Markieff last year?
  • He hasn't played a ton just yet, but Elijah Johnson might be REALLY good next year.  His per-minute averages are stellar, he gets to the line, he rebounds well for a guard, and his BCI is 2.7, which is damn strong for a freshman (Mike Dixon's is 3.4, but still).

Keys to the Game

  1. The long ball.  It is what it is.  Mizzou will almost certainly take a ton of 3's tomorrow night, and I can't necessarily blame them.  KU's interior defense is great, and while Mizzou still needs to try to penetrate and work in as many mid-range jumpers as they possibly can ... look at their recent tendencies and KU's defensive strengths, and put two and two together.  If Mizzou wins, it's probably because they got really hot from long range.  If they miss a ton of 3's, or if KU makes a ton of 3's, I'm not really sure how Mizzou wins.

    (And if Kim English wanted to start going straight up on his jumper again, that would be great.)

  2. R-E-B-O-U-N-D.  For some reason, KU is only a good rebounding team, not a great one this year.  Combined with the fact that Mizzou is outrebounding opponents by 2.0 per game in conference play, that offers at least a small opportunity for Mizzou success on the boards.  I very much don't expect them to beat KU overall on the glass, but if they don't get pummeled and can force some turnovers, they might be giving themselves a chance.

  3. The first ten minutes.  Mizzou has lost four games this year, and all four were one-possession games in the last minute.  Unlike last year's team (so far), they have yet to get blown off the court.  If they want those two sentences to still be true after Monday night, they must (MUST) respond to the moment.  I doubt Mike Anderson will do what Scott Drew did last week, but whatever he comes up with, his team has to withstand the first ten minutes of the game.  Last year, KU went on a 5-minute, 18-1 run starting just five minutes into the game, and before the second TV timeout, Mizzou was down 16.  In my boxing parlance, that's a second-round knockout.  Mizzou can't win the game in the first ten minutes, but they can absolutely, positively lose it.

Prediction

If KU wins ... well, we can pretty clearly see how this plays out.  70% chance it's a blowout not unlike last year's game say, 84-58), 30% chance it's a tight game won when Sherron Collins takes over down the stretch (79-72).  KU has no objection with playing Mizzou's pace, in fact they often try to counter-punch it with long outlets off of defensive rebounds and fast-break attempts in the other direction.  In other words, this probably isn't going to be low-scoring unless neither team can buy a bucket.

If Mizzou wins ... the 3-pointers are falling, the defense is forcing turnovers, and the free throws go in down the stretch.  It will take an inspired effort, but a win is certainly feasible.  We'll say a Mizzou win would end up in the 81-78 neighborhood.

Which one am I picking?  I'll let you take a guess.

(And speaking of guesses, be sure to leave your trifecta guesses -- who will finish 1st, 2nd, and 3rd for Mizzou in terms of AdjGS points -- in the comments below.)

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