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A Sampling of Kansas Rim Protection

Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports

In the win against Baylor, the Bears shot just 36 percent in the restricted area, one of the best marks by the Jayhawks this year and certainly a surprising performance by a team that had struggled in that area this year.

How much of that, though, was due to Kansas, and how much was due to Baylor just missing shots? Let's examine some gifs:

in this one we have Brannen Greene getting beat off the dribble (not much of a surprise there sadly) but Jamari Traylor does a fairly decent job of rotating over to help for the miss. It would be a bit better of course if he were there a bit earlier, especially given the fact that Cliff Alexander had the roll covered, but in all it's a good enough job. He does leave his man open in the corner, but that's Ish Wainwright who is just 1-4 on threes for the season, so no biggie.

Next we have some Perry Ellis defense. This is the sort of thing I mean when I say Ellis has played good defensively on the perimeter this year. I do wonder if Self wants him to come out so high on the hedge, but he attacks the screen well, almost picks Chery's pocket, and is able to recover and play good on ball defense. Even though he gets backed down fairly easily, he's able to force a tough shot.

Here is some more good help by Ellis. Traylor gets beat by the spin move, but Ellis is there to force a tough interior pass and while Oubre is a little slow to react to it, both Ellis and Traylor are there to force a really tough look. Side note: the first time I viewed this gif I thought Oubre was Cliff. Damn his arms are long.

This one is nothing more than Cliff Alexander showing off how important length is. While he gets backed down pretty good by Rico Gathers, not that I could blame him, he is still able to force a tough look by just jumping straight up. He's also big enough once Gathers catches the ball to force him to go away from the basket, which is also key. Side note: look at Oubre almost get beat off the dribble but poke the ball away somehow.

Here's another instance of good help defense by Cliff, coming over to block the shot after Traylor (semi) got beat. He did leave Johnathan Motley wide open, but once Freeman made that spin move I think it was fairly easy to tell that he wasn't passing. It would have been nice for Mason to rotate down sooner, though I'm not sure he'd really be doing much against the 6'9" Motley. I also think this play illustrates why Traylor gets so much playing time. Al Freeman is 6'3", and yet Traylor is able to switch on the perimeter with Greene and stick with him.

So how much of this is repeatable? There's no way to be certain yet, but the Jayhawks have really improved their rotations defensively over the last couple weeks, and if they can mix in some boxing out they might have a chance to not only extend the streak to 11, but the streak of leading the Big 12 in defense to 4.