The Jayhawks pass the math test by scoring in the paint against Texas

LAWRENCE, Kansas — Kansas COO Fred Quartelbaum fired off an email Saturday night to Patrick Stacy, who runs a one-man scouting service that Kansas is involved with. Stacy asked if he could run the numbers on KU’s efficiency when the Jayhawks got rebounding touchdown paint and their efficiency based on the number of ball tackles they had.

Stacy ran the numbers that night, hours after KU’s worst offensive score in conference play against Iowa State:

• Paint touches the rebound: Average scoring of 55.4 and 1,173 points per possession
• Zero ball reflections: 0.722 purchasing power parity
• One ball reflection: 0.951 purchasing power parity
• Ball reflections plus two: 0.977 purchasing power parity

Sunday night, Kansas head coach Bill Self delivered the data and gave his team a math lesson. It was really very simple. The Jayhawks needed to get in the paint.

Monday night against #5 Texas, they passed the test. Kansas had a season-high 50 points in the 88-80 win.

“When you look at the time when we didn’t play well, we didn’t get points in the paint,” Self said. “We have to be about our paint touches—getting off the pass or the bounce, one way or another. And tonight we were successful. I bet our paint touches were at least three times—maybe four times—more than they were on Saturday.”

The Jayhawks scored a modest 16 points in the paint at Iowa, a season low.

Kansas has been out-painted seven times this season and lost three of those games. When KU wins on points in a paint battle, the score is 14-1.

This is not a new self-advertisement. He has always been a believer in signing up to paint and finding numbers that justify the effort. Former assistant coach Tim Janković once conducted his own study on paint touches, finding a team that scored 0.3 points per possession more on possessions that included a touch of paint versus those that didn’t. How self accustomed to win the battle by feeding mail. This team is unlike any he has ever coached in that the Jayhawks rarely post anyone. According to Synergy, KU ranks 329th in post-follow-up frequency. For anyone who follows Kansas Under Self, it’s as if we live in a strange world.

Self still gets what he wants through ball screens and creating leadership opportunities. Which is why he wanted Stacy to give him a touch of throwback paint. That’s what this team is designed to do, and outside of superstar Jalen Wilson, its other drivers have lost their way. Point guard DaJuan Harris, in particular, was more concerned about running the offense than running the offense.

“The Iowa State game I didn’t get into the paint at all,” Harris said, “and today my main focus was going downhill.”

Harris set the tone early against the Texans, looking to deflect Corner off the high-ball screen and either reach the basket or use his floater. He ended up scoring 17 points on 16 attempts. Ten of those points came in the paint.

Grady Dick scored eight of his 21 points in the paint, Kevin McCullar (six out of 16), backup guard Joseph Yesofu (eight out of 14), KJ Adams (eight out of 10), Ernest Ode and MJ Rice (eight) out of eight combined) also entered into the verb.

That’s how the Jayhawks somehow put 88 points on the board with Wilson, their all-American nominee, scoring just 2 points. Those came in paint, too.

It totally worked out for Self, who now has a movie backing up his statements.

“What hurts when you don’t get your paint touches is you become an execution team or a shooting jump team,” Self said. “And then you don’t get to the free throw line as much.”

Not surprisingly, KU outscored Texas there as well, 22-14.

The Jayhawks achieved this with a defensive game plan aligned with their offensive scheme, hoping to keep the Texans out of the paint. Self-published defense of switching everything.

“I thought it would be better to guard them if we were put in front of them rather than chasing them,” Self explained.

Texas chased down useful mismatches at times, but forced the Longhorns to settle for more jump shots. Texas scored 42 points in the paint, but much of it came late.

The same plan got KU burning at Baylor, but this is the hardest team in the Big 12 to switch against because of their guards. It’s a strategy Self might consider because Adams has no problem guarding the perimeter and KU has big convertible wings in Wilson, McColar and Dick. It also helps the defense stay off spins and eliminates the need for tagging reels, which is why try Self Strategy at Baylor.

And then offensively, the formula is very simple. Get those feet in the paint, and you’ll have a shot at the Big 12 title. KU is just a game comeback from first-place Texas, staying in the catch by winning Big Monday.

All thanks to the math lesson.

(Photo of Kansas forward Jalen Wilson shooting Texas forward Christian Bishop: Charlie Riddell/AP)


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