One team shot 42% from three, turned it over on only 14.3% of their possessions, and grabbed nearly 40% of their misses. The other won the basketball game. In any conference, but especially the Big 12, there are road games where, if a team fancies itselff a contender for the championship, they have to win. Yesterday in Austin one of those games unfolded, and Kansas overcame foul trouble, a good atmosphere, and a surprisingly good game from Clint Chapman to remain undefeated in Big 12 play.
Even though it seemed like he had a great game, in reality Travis Releford, Tyshawn Taylor and Elijah Johnson did yeoman's work on J'Covan Brown, limiting him to just a 32.6% eFG. He made 3 of his 8 threes, but two of those were pretty tough shots, and he made just 4 of his 18 twos. Texas scored 1.05 points per trip, so it wasn't all good defensively, but the truth is Brown probably kept Texas from winning more than he helped them win.
Texas had just a 41% eFG in the game, but dominated on the glass, rebounding 37.5% of their misses, and also turned it over on just 14.3% of their possessions. Kansas has a real problem developing defensively, forcing opponents to turn it over on roughly 20% of their possessions in Big 12 play. Keeping opponents from shooting well is obviously the most important ingredient to offensive success, but last year Texas had a great eFG allowed, did well on the defensive glass and never forced turnovers. That came back to bite them in the end because it's a bit easier for a team to luck into a hot shooting night than it is for them to magically take care of the ball or get a lot of offensive rebounds. Correlation doesn't mean causation of course but I hope Kansas isn't on the same track.
Offensively Kansas was pretty nondescript: 1.095 PPP is not very good but hardly terrible, but they had just a 27% offensive rebounding rate and also assisted on only 40% of their field goals. Given that their season long rate is closer to 60% there was perhaps a bit too much standing around on offense.
Bottom line though is that in order to win a conference title a team has to win games that it probably shouldn't, and Kansas did that tonight.
I almost forgot to mention my favorite stat from the game: Remember how in the game preview I mentioned that Texas PG Myck Kabongo is the best player in the country at getting to the free throw line? He took 0 free throws yesterday. Not one.
- On the one year anniversary of his mom's death Thomas Robinson had 17 points and 9 rebounds, including 5 offensive, and had multiple big dunks down the stretch as well as the free throw to put Kansas up by three in the waning seconds.
- Tyshawn Taylor continues to be incredibly good, with 22 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists and.....0 turnovers. He made 3 of his 6 threes, 5 of his 7 free throws, and played very good defense on both Brown and Myck Kabongo.
- Elijah had 9 points, was just 1-4 from three but 3 of his 4 twos and made a couple nice drives to the basket that should be burned onto a DVD and then into his brain.
- Conner Teahan played only 17 minutes but it seemed like double that. All I can think about when he's out there is Ben McLemore. Merv Lindsey must take naps during practice or something.
- Only two blocks for Jeff Withey?! Man is he slacking. On a more serious note, he went 8-9 from the line and is by far our best FT shooter, something I never thought I'd say.