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3 Point Defense: The Jayhawks' Achilles Heel

Just another thing for Bill Self to stress out about.
Just another thing for Bill Self to stress out about.

There are a lot of reasons Kansas lost to Missouri Saturday. Inept offense, poor clock management, referees incapable of grasping the concept that they are not participants in the game...the list can go on. These are all valid points. There is one reason I keep hearing that does give me pause. That's the notion that Missouri just got crazy hot and couldn't miss from beyond the three point line.

It's true, in a 46% 3 point performance, the Tigers hit some wild, contested threes they had no business making. But I'd be more inclined to write it off in the "luck" column if this problem didn't seem to come up so often. Looking at the numbers throughout the season, it actually becomes apparent that this is a real problem for Kansas.

Remember our close call against Texas A&M a couple weeks ago? They shot 58% from beyond the arc. The narrow win over Long Beach State featured a 42% performance by the 49ers. Kentucky hit 47%. Duke? 44%. Texas nearly took us out with a 42% performance and Iowa State hit 41% in the upset in Ames.

When you look at the whole season's body of work, it looks even worse. Kansas allows opponents to shoot 35.3% from behind the arc. That makes us dead last in the Big 12. It also earns us a staggering 227th ranking in Division 1 overall. Our Big 12 ranking in conference games is a bit improved in the 7th spot, but the number is still 36.4%, good for 231st in the nation.

What makes this so much more alarming is that since we're a team that has won the vast majority of our games, a lot of opponents end up firing off a bunch of threes late in the game against us. That means more attempts, and generally, a lower percentage. We can't keep throwing up our hands with a "what can you do?" attitude every time our opponents get hot from behind the arc. This is a trend, but no one seems to bring it up.

Granted, we're actually at the top of the Big 12 in defensive eFG%. That makes the lackluster 3 point D more tolerable. Still, as we approach March and start playing teams with their seasons on the line, we're going to have to defend some squads who are hoisting up a lot of threes. With this in mind, I think our perimeter defense needs to be added to our list of concerns headed down the stretch.