Let's start with the good: Missouri needed to shoot 40% of its shots from deep, and make 45% of those threes, to win by only three on their home court despite a host of other factors. Kansas didn't play very well on Saturday but were one good possession of execution away from a commanding lead in the Big 12.
But, the bad looms: Kansas will now probably have to sweep in Waco and Manhattan, not to mention win the return trip from Missouri. Up 71-63 with 3:25 left, Kansas allowed an 11-0 run by Missouri to let it slip away.
It's tough to point to one specific thing that happened, but let's start defensively: though Missouri shot well from three it was their two point defense that hurt just as much: Kansas allowed Missouri to shoot 57.6% from inside the arc, which is better than their season average in Big 12 play. Jeff Withey didn't have much impact on the game, only blocking one shot and changing a couple others, and he only grabbed 3 defensive rebounds. They kept Ricardo Ratliffe in check, mainly by getting him in foul trouble, but the Kansas guards did a poor job overall of sticking with their Tiger counterparts.
I thought Kansas, all told, did a pretty good job at hanging onto the ball. Their turnover rate, 22.4%, was the exact rate at which Missouri forces its opponents to turn it over. But when factoring in the fact that it was on the road and Missouri has a mid pack conference strength of schedule. Even better was that Kansas forced Missouri to turn it over roughly 3% more than they usually do.
The most likely culprit was some late game execution. And it brings up an interesting strategic question: do you go into a slow down late in the game, or do you shoot the first good shot you have? Personally I am right in the middle: I wouldn't aimlessly pass it around the perimeter and wait for the shot clock to run down, but I probably wouldn't have gone as soon as Kansas did on some possessions either.
- Thomas Robinson had a fantastic performance, scoring 25 points on 11-17 shooting and grabbing 13 rebounds. He had 5 turnovers, but in all played about as well as we could have asked.
- Speaking of which, Conner Teahan made both of his threes and had a steal as well (that even I could have grabbed but hey he still had to do it). He didn't play terribly well on defense but wasn't a complete disaster either.
- Jeff Withey took one shot and scored 0 points. I had a bad feeling he wouldn't be factor in this one, but I didn't think it would be this bad.
- The only Jayhawk to go 40 minutes was Elijah Johnson. He made a pair of pull up jumpers and had a couple of dunks as well, but was just 1-7 from three, including a hideous final heave (more on that tomorrow maybe)
- three final notes: