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The Bonus: Three thoughts from No. 6 Kansas’ loss to No. 25 Texas

02/02/2014 5:52 PM

02/02/2014 5:52 PM

AUSTIN, Texas — No. 6 Kansas suffered its first Big 12 loss of the season on Saturday, falling 81-69 at Texas. Here are three day-after thoughts on the loss:

1. Kansas’ defensive problems:

After the loss, the Jayhawks’ defense now ranks 39th nationally in adjusted efficiency, according to KU is allowing opponents an effective field-goal percentage of 46.5 percent, which ranks 71st in the country.

Not a great number.

For the better part of 10 years, Bill Self’s KU teams have consistently held opponents under 40 percent shooting. This year, opponents are shooting 41 percent from the floor.

Some of this, of course, may stem from the new foul rules, which encourage offense and have led to higher offensive numbers across the country. But while Kansas should be able to get enough stops to stay atop the Big 12, recent history suggests that a team ranked in the high 30s in KenPom’s defensive rankings will be a long shot to cut down the nets at the Final Four.

In the last 10 seasons, here’s where the NCAA champ ranked in defensive efficiency:

2013: Louisville, 3rd

2012: Kentucky, 8th

2011: UConn, 13th

2010: Duke, 8th

2009: North Carolina, 21st

2008: Kansas, 1st

2007: Florida, 17th

2006: Florida, 6th

2005: North Carolina, 12th

2004: UConn, 5th

2. The Big 12 race:

Last week, we looked at the Big 12 contenders and their toughest remaining games in the Big 12. After Saturday, here’s an updated look at Kansas and Texas, the only teams with fewer than two losses in conference play:

Kansas, 7-1

• Four toughest games:

At Baylor, Feb. 4

At Kansas State, Feb. 10

Texas, Feb. 22

At Oklahoma State, March 1


: Kansas still has to go to K-State, Oklahoma State and Baylor (on Tuesday). They also will get Texas and Oklahoma at home.

• KenPom projection: 14-4

Texas, 6-2

• Four toughest games:

At Kansas State, Feb. 8

At Kansas, Feb. 22

At Iowa State, Feb. 18

At Oklahoma, March 1


: That’s four tough road games remaining for the Longhorns, who suffered their two losses at Oklahoma State and at home against Oklahoma.

KenPom projection: 12-6

Bottom line: Kansas and Texas each have 10 conference games left. For a second, let’s assume KU beats the Longhorns at Allen Fieldhouse. If so, the Longhorns will have to be two games better than KU in the other nine games just to earn a tie. In other words: KU is still in the driver’s seat to earn at least a share of the title. Of course, a loss on Tuesday at Baylor might change things.

3. Kansas’ three-point shooting:

The Jayhawks’ outside shooting was perceived as a weakness in the early weeks of the non-conference season. But Wayne Selden and Naadir Tharpe entered Saturday shooting better than 36 percent from three-point range. And Andrew Wiggins had also shot it well from three in conference play. But then the Jayhawks took just 14 three-pointers against Texas, including one meaningless three in the final seconds.

Before Frank Mason made his final three-pointer, KU had made five of 13 (38 percent) behind the arc. Meanwhile, they made just 37 percent inside the arc. One takeaway: If KU faces a team that can protect the rim like Texas, the Jayhawks should probably should think about shooting a few more threes to open up the middle.


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