The competitiveness of the Big 12 Conference, game-in-and-game-out, will highlight any flaws a player might have. It's a brutal league and playing well on the road is a tough task.
Kevin McCullar Jr., while still scoring plenty of points for the Kansas Jayhawks, has slid into a shooting slump of late, especially from three-point range. In his first 12 games of the season, he nailed 40.8% of his long-range attempts, but since then, starting with the Wichita State game, the final warm-up game before conference play, he's hit on only 29.3% of his attempts beyond the arc.
That's in line with how he shot the ball over the past two games, a home win versus Cincinnati and and road loss to Iwo State. In the latter game, he was 0-for-6 from three until late in the game, when he hit a key triple when KU was trying to keep the game close, and another meaningless three as time ran out.
He's also struggling on his two-point attempts. Over the last 11 games, he's only shot for better than 50% in three games from inside the arc. From two-point range, he's hit just 46.1% of his attempts. That's after he shot 60.5% on two-point attempts his first nine games.
His point total has remained high, mainly because he takes a lot of shots and he's been effective from the free throw line. He leads the Big 12 in free throws attempted and is hitting 82.4% of them. That has been propping up his point total to a certain extent.
WHAT IS CAUSING KEVIN MCCULLAR JR.'S SHOOTING SLUMP?
The most obvious reason for McCullar's slump is Big 12 opponents. Conference play is always brutal and this year seems to be even more so. Familiarity with each team, strong coaching, and high levels of talent each and every game will naturally make it hard for any player to feel comfortable shooting the ball all the time.
A high number of high-intensity minutes every single game against top notch opponents also has to play a big part. McCullar is playing 35 minutes a game, but has exceeded that in four of the seven conference games. Fatigue has to be playing a part.
It can also be just a bad game here and there. Against Iowa State, McCullar was only 5-for-18 from the field, but also committed five turnovers. He just didn't have a good game overall. In this conference, that is going to happen.
During the CBS telecast of the Iowa State game, the broadcasters mentioned he was a little banged up. If this is true, this could also be causing some issues with his shot, as well as his turnover issues in this particular game.
The good news is that on his last two attempts from deep versus Iowa State, the shots looked good and they went in. That hadn't been happening very regularly of late. Maybe the veteran just needed something to get him back into rhythm. It's too early to be too worried, but the slump has extended long enough to have some concern. Maybe those two shots will get him going again.
McCullar wasn't a particularly good shooter in his career coming into this season. In fact, he'd only connected on 29.8% of his three-point attempts for his career before this season. While he looked much improved in that area early on, he could be sliding back to what was his norm.
Look for him to regain some of the accuracy he displayed earlier in the season going forward. He has been confident with his shot all year, and that confidence should yield better results than what we've seen lately. The shots are going to start falling for McCullar. The Jayhawks desperately need them to!