Kevin C. Cox
Taking a look at the strengths, weaknesses and trends heading into Thursday night's matchup between Kansas and UT Chattanooga.
The Jayhawks lost a close game to the Michigan State Spartans in the Champions Classic and look to rebound and get back above .500 against the Chattanooga Mocs. The Mocs are a part of the Southern Conference and went 11-21 overall but are showing dramatic signs of improvement after their season opening clobbering of Tennessee Temple, 88-53. Each team is looking for a win in this game; though the Jayhawks have a huge advantage, namely Allen Fieldhouse.
UT - Chattanooga:
No Injuries to report
While the scoring presence is not exactly illuminating on the Mocs roster, the Mocs do have plenty of players who could easily exceed 10 pts. or more on a given night. Forward Z. Mason (16 PPG-5 RPG) leads the Mocs in scoring while F Drazen Zlovaric (11 PPG-8 RPG) trails shortly behind along with F Lance Stokes (9 PPG-4 RPG), G Ronrico White (9 PPG-4 RPG- 3 APG), F Jared Bryant (8 PPG-7 RPG) G Farad Cobb (8 PPG-3 APG) and G Martynas Bareika (7 PPG-5 RPG).
Weakness: Outside Shooting
If you thought the Jayhawks had bad outside shooting, then what can you say about the Mocs outside shooting? The Mocs made 8 out of 22 jumpers and were 2 for 22 from the 3 point line, 10 for 44 overall. If the Jayhawks can keep the Mocs outside the paint, the Jayhawks can shut down Chattanooga's offense.
F Zach Peters
F Landon Lucas (Held out- potential redshirt)
The backcourt scoring for Kansas has become a pleasant surprise for Kansas early in the season which is somewhat contradictory to the normal high low, inside system used by Bill Self. Ben McLemore has been a stud at the SG position scoring 14 points and dishing out 3 assists in the loss to Michigan State along with combo guard Elijah Johnson who scored 16 points and snagged 4 rebounds in the game. SG Travis Releford also quietly contributed 8 points and 4 steals in the loss as well.
Weakness: Lack Of Experience
While the Jayhawks starting lineup consists of three seniors, the rest of team lacks experience in the form of youth. The underclassmen were 12 for 19 shooting overall and committed 6 turnovers while grabbing only 11 of the Jayhawks 24 rebounds in the loss to MSU. The underclassmen are talented nonetheless but are not experienced enough to be depended upon, especially in special scenarios calling for clutch baskets in prime time games.
Player Trending Up: SG Ben McLemore
While I'm sure McLemore has received more than enough publicity, this kid is the real deal and is deserving of his attention, hopefully that won't go to his head. McLemore has averaged 11.5 points per game, 7.5 rebounds per game, and 4 assists per game through 2 games. If McLemore can continue to play like this, he may be considered a lottery pick in this year's upcoming draft, though let's hope McLemore stays a couple another year or maybe, just maybe two.
Player Trending Down: PF Perry Ellis
The focus of the Jayhawks struggles has been the inexperienced underclassmen on the team and PF Perry Ellis was a good example of that. Ellis was riding high after that 15-point game against Southeast Missouri State, but then, like a deer caught in headlights, froze in the Georgia Dome after scoring 4 points in the first 11 minutes in the game then nothing else. Ellis poor shot selection and lack of experience ultimately marred his lack luster performance in the loss to the Spartans.
We saw Kansas bleed in the loss to Michigan State and have learned that Kansas is no longer immortal in 2012-13, though Chattanooga poses absolutely no threat and should get demolished by a hungry Jayhawks team. No matter how many backups the Mocs may have, the Jayahwks can shut down the Mocs in the paint and force them to take uncontested shots, a major weakness of Chattanooga.