Kansas faces the Saint Louis Billikens in the finals of the CBE Hall of Fame Classic. The Billikens play very similarly to the Jayhawks last opponent, Washington State, frequently making shots inside the paint. KU’s backcourt, again, shone bright in the victory over Washington State and will most likely shine again against a feisty Billikens team.
G Kwamain Mitchell
The Billikens play similarly to KU’s last opponent Washington State, in that the bigs contribute most of the scoring. F Dwayne Evans (15 PPG-8 RPG) leads Saint Louis in scoring and is joined by F Cody Ellis (13 PPG-4.5 RPG) and F Rob Loe (8.5 PPG-2.5 RPG). Through 3 games the Billikens have shot .635 while in the paint, so look for the Forwards to be attacking the basket quite frequently in this game.
Weakness: Outside Shooting
The Billikens too share an unfortunate similarity with Washington State, in that they have been very unproductive outside the paint. The Billikens have shot .281% when taking jumpers (9 for 29) and are .304% shooting outside the arc (14 for 46). If KU can limit the Billikens time in the paint, then we can expect the same result as Washington State did: few shots taken inside, making only 6 of 16 baskets inside the paint, and poor outside shooting (7 for 17 jumpers & 4 for 21 three’s) resulting in a poor offensive output.
F Zach Peters
I can say this time the offensive output by the backcourt wasn’t just Ben McLemore or Elijah Johnson, no, Travis Releford was the star of the show. Releford broke out in the blowout victory over Washington State, scoring 17 points, the most by any Jayhawk in that game. Elijah Johnson had another solid game, scoring 8 points and dishing out 4 assists. Ben McLemore contributed quietly scoring 11 points, 2 blocks, 1 assist and 1 rebound.
Weakness: Three Point Shooting
The Jayhawks have been dismal beyond the arc this year, competing only 21 for 77 shots outside the perimeter this year, a .272 shooting percentage. While the Jayhawks inside scoring have made up for some of the missed shots, if KU gets into another situation like they did against MSU, then they’d better pray they have a back
Player Trending Up: PF Perry Ellis
Perry Ellis broke out of his scoring funk, by recording 12 points on 2 for 3 shooting and was a perfect 8 for 8 at the line. Aside from points, Ellis had 3 rebounds, 2 assists and a block in the win over the Cougars. Hopefully the trend continues and can rejuvenate an abnormally quiet frontcourt.
Player Trending Down: C Jeff Withey
I wouldn’t go so far as to say that Jeff Withey has been getting worse, though I wouldn’t say his recent offensive output has been “dazzling”. Perhaps this has been a bit of let down, as he was talked of being a prolific scorer this year. So far he has averaged 9 PPG in the last 3 games and had only 6 rebound and 5 blocks, less
in all three categories than last game. Withey will have to step up his defense against a team that is dangerous in the paint.
Just like last night against Washington State, seal of the paint from the Saint Louis bigs and KU should have little problem dousing the Billikens offense. Although Saint Louis is much better than Washington State so there is no telling whether this will be a close game, though it should be entertaining nonetheless.