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Jayhawks need to get better on defense to break out of funk

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After a 10-game winning streak, the Kansas Jayhawks suffered their first losing streak of the season after dropping games to Kansas State and TCU last week. The latter was his 83-60 dribbling at Allen Fieldhouse on Saturday.

Fortunately for the Jayhawks, they’ve been in this position before. They went on an 11-game winning streak en route to the national title after losing back-to-back road meetings last year to Baylor and TCU.

“Last year we lost back-to-back to Baylor and TCU, and then we got to run the table,” said Jalen Wilson. One, of course, you’re not invincible at home, and two, you have to take pride in your defense.”

Wilson’s second goal is especially important for this team. Because the Jayhawks can’t get on track this season without playing better on defense.

KU posted a defensive efficiency of 117 in Saturday’s loss. Bert Tobik, which marked the team’s worst performance of the season. The Jayhawks gave up his goal percentage 61.4% on the effective field. It was also the worst clip near 5%.

TCU, the 348th-ranked team in the nation in 3-point percentage going into Saturday, was able to finish 15-8 over the arc against Kansas. This marked the most triples the Horned Frogs have achieved in a game since he won 9–18 against Mississippi on December 18 against Valley State.

Some of that can be attributed to shooting luck, but KU also didn’t do a good enough job of forcing bad shots. synergy sports technologyseven of TCU’s 11 catch-and-shoot jump shots were unguarded.

“This league is so good that if you can’t make other people play badly, you can’t have much success in the league,” said University of Kansas coach Bill Self.

Self usually prefers to have a defensively oriented team, but it’s clear the Jayhawks haven’t lived up to his standards since conference play began. The numbers also back it up.

According to Torvik, KU posted a defensive efficiency of 104 or higher in five of its seven league games after falling below 100 in each of its first 12 non-conference contests. After giving up 83 points on a losing streak (though the K State game he went OT), Kansas now has him giving up 71.7 points per contest in seven league games. For comparison, the Jayhawks allow 67.1 points per game per year.

The league is clearly getting more competitive, but it’s clear the Jayhawks aren’t as defensive as they can be.

“We’re in a period where we can guard all the time, but we haven’t been able to guard like we did against Indiana,” Self said. “We don’t fly around like that. Scout reports are important to some of our players, and that’s a disappointment to me.”

Perhaps the biggest concern is KU’s perimeter defense. Kansas has ranked him 10th in the Big 12 since the league began, allowing opposing teams to shoot 37.4% from long range. KU has given up seven or more of his 3-pointers in five of his last seven games.

“We know exactly what we need to do, so we’re not confused about losing the game,” Wilson said. “It has to be something we’re proud of. Because of our intensity (and) aggressiveness on both ends, they have to adjust their game plan.”

The good news for the Jayhawks is that they have the pieces to work it all out on the defensive side. They still rank fourth in the conference in adjusted defensive efficiency after this start. Both Kevin McCuller Jr. and Dafan Harris Jr. are strong individual defenders. KU is very versatile and can be switched to any ball screen.

Unfortunately for Kansas, the Big 12 doesn’t have a night off. KU travels to Waco on Monday to face a Baylor team that makes everyone look ridiculous on defense.

The Bears rank second in the nation in offensive efficiency, and have won four in a row since stumbling into a 0-3 start in the league. Baylor’s backcourt trio of Keyyonte George, Adam Flagler and LJ Cryer will be a tough task for his KU defense trying to find its way.

“There are some things we can do to tighten up some things that we think will put us in a better position to play better on Monday,” Self said. “But you know, if you go to Baylor and play better, those three cats can make 15 threes.”

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