Scouting Report: Big 12 Tourney

10 Mar

Looking at the stat sheet from KU’s narrow victory over Oklahoma State, there are several numbers that stand out and seem to indicate how the Cowboys stayed close and how other opponents (read: Kansas State or Colorado) could do likewise.

The Jayhawks outrebounded the Cowboys 42-36, but the bigger distinction came on the offensive boards, where KU grabbed 18 and OSU only came away with 8. That translated directly to the second chance points scored for each team: 13 for the Jayhawks, and only 4 for the Cowboys.

Moral of the story? Keep the Jayhawks as far from the glass as possible, especially Marcus Morris and Thomas Robinson, who had 10 and 8 rebounds, respectively, against OSU.

Defense also played a huge role in the Cowboys’ near upset, as they held KU to 35.9 percent shooting from the floor. That low number came largely via the team’s 5-of-25 effort from beyond the arc. Guard Elijah Wood in particular had trouble with that range on Thursday; he was 1-of-8 from the floor, and every single one of those shots came from behind the three-point line.

And the lesson here, again: keep the Jayhawks off the boards. One-foot and two-foot shots are much easier to make consistently than ones 25 feet from the hoop. If a team can deny KU the ball in the paint, it has a better chance of limiting its scoring.

This last little word of advice could be helpful or not on any given day because of the nature of the shot. As K-State head coach Frank Martin always says, free throw shooting is all mental, so the Jayhawks could very well come out and shoot 22-28 in the third round, but here’s the observation from this particular game. KU shot just 57.1 percent from the free throw line against the Cowboys. This type of struggling lends itself to the old adage that instead of giving up an easy layup, go ahead and foul the player hard enough that he has to earn those points at the line.

Lastly, the obvious key to success is this: don’t be intimidated. Sure, KU is the No. 2 team in the country, and it has only lost twice this season, but it’s had plenty of close games that could have gone either way. Now that it’s tournament time, who’s to say that one of those close ones won’t fall the other way?

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