Bob Donnan-US PRESSWIRE
The Kansas Jayhawks' turnover woes came to the forefront in a Saturday-night loss when coach Bill Self benched senior point guard Elijah Johnson late in the game after a pair of costly turnovers.
Kansas Jayhawks head coach Bill Self ripped into his team following its first Big 12 defeat at the hands of Oklahoma State Cowboys on Saturday.
Self tore into his guard play in a news conference after the game, saying, "We don't have a point guard."
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Senior point guard Elijah Johnson was benched briefly toward the end of the game with a somewhat dubious line of eight points off of 3-of-14 shooting, six assists and four turnovers. Two of Johnson's turnovers came in the final five minutes that turned a Jayhawks four-point lead into a one-point deficit in less than a minute. One of the turnovers was especially sloppy -- a ball thrown out of bounds to no one.
Following the game, according to the Topeka Capital-Journal, Self had some harsh words for his point guard and team, citing "terrible ball handling" as the reason for the loss.
"It's sad," Self said. "We were definitely a better team with (Johnson) sitting down next to us and putting somebody else in the game."
As the Kansas City Star points out, this ball control problem was eventually going to rear its ugly head. Johnson played at shooting guard for the Jayhawks and slid over to point to take over when Tyshawn Taylor graduated.
Johnson's struggles with bringing the ball up court have been apparent throughout the season, but lessened because Kansas kept winning games. He is second in the Big 12 with 67 turnovers, good for 3.2 per game. Lately, it has been even worse as Johnson has turned the ball over three or more times in every game in 2013 except for one.
Self clarified his comments later during the post-game news conference, saying the blame wasn't resting solely at Johnson's feet, but his point guard wasn't getting off easy.
"I'm not putting it all on Elijah," Self said. "but that was a really poor game."
Johnson is spelled time at point guard usually by sophomore Naadir Tharpe, who averages only 1.2 turnovers per game but also plays just 17.9 minutes per game. But Tharpe has struggled with his shot, shooting just 35 percent from the floor.
Turnovers are killing Johnson's efficiency numbers, especially during league play. He has 34 assists to 31 turnovers in Big 12 games, good for an assist-to-turnover ratio of just 1.1. His turnover percentage sits at right around 25 percent at the season, meaning every 100 plays Johnson is estimated to turn the ball over 25 times.
The Jayhawks' troubles with control aren't relegated just to Johnson, as the rest of the team has struggled almost as much and that isn't lost on Self. During conference play, the Jayhawks have 98 assists to 111 turnovers.
Eventually, turnovers had to catch up with the Jayhawks and they did on Saturday night. Kansas reset the win streak counter at Allen Fieldhouse back to zero -- something they hadn't had to do in more than two years.