How Kansas can get back on track

Updated: February 11, 2013, 12:35 PM ET
By Seth Greenberg

It has been a challenging nine days for the Kansas Jayhawks. They followed their 85-80 home loss to Oklahoma State on Feb. 2 with back-to-back road losses against TCU (which had been winless in the Big 12) and Oklahoma. Thank goodness Topeka YMCA wasn't on the schedule.

These are the same Jayhawks that in nonconference play averaged 77 points per game while shooting 49 percent from the field and 37 percent from the 3-point line, and the same Jayhawks that started off 19-1 before this three-game losing streak.

So what went wrong? And can Kansas, led by three fifth-year seniors and one of the nation's elite freshmen in Ben McLemore, rebound and win a ninth consecutive Big 12 regular-season championship? Let's take a look at the Jayhawks, heading into their "Big Monday" matchup against the Kansas State Wildcats (ESPN, 9 p.m. ET).

What went wrong?

Kansas' issues begin on offense. Since league play began, the Jayhawks have had to grind out every offensive possession. They're averaging 10 fewer points per game in conference play than they did in nonconference, while shooting only 31 percent from the 3-point line and 42 percent from the field.

You can make the obvious point that the competition has gotten better, but this is at heart a personnel issue. One primary reason for these struggles is that Kansas lacks a dynamic point guard. Elijah Johnson is a solid ball guard, but he's not a point guard. He doesn't see plays early and doesn't put pressure on the defense. He has taken only 42 free throws this season, and his assist-to-turnover ratio is barely 1-to-1. These are not the traits of an elite point guard.