John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports
Kansas vs. Richmond: Tipoff Vitals
The Kansas Jayhawks are coming off their second 80+ point scoring night in a a win over an overwhelmed Belmont team and they now prepare to welcome the Richmond Spiders to the Allen Fieldhouse. The last time these two teams played was in the Sweet 16 in the 2011 NCAA Tournament, Kansas won that game by a score of 77-57.
The Spiders are 9-2 with the 81st best scoring average at 73.5 points per contest and they boast a backcourt that is loaded with scorers and play makers much like the Jayhawks. However the Jayhawks should have the upper hand in this game, playing in Lawrence, where they average a 78-56 win against their non conference opponents.
When: Tuesday, December 18, 7:00 PM ET
Where: Lawrence, Kansas
No injuries to report
The Richmond backcourt is led by G Darien Brothers (14-8 PPG-1.9 RPG), G Kendall Anthony (13.9 PPG-1.9 APG) and G Cedrick Lindsay (10.7 PPG-4.4 APG). This trio accounts for most of the Spiders 3 point field goals, so Kansas must defend well on the perimeter if they hope to maintain the 31% 3-Point field goal defense that limited Belmont to just 8-38 outside the arc.
Weakness: Non-Scoring Stats
Aside from scoring, this Spiders team isn't all that flashy. The lack of an interior presence is evident as the Spiders rank down at 299th in the nation in rebounding. Defensively the Spiders do force their share of turnovers with 9 steals per contest, but at just three per game, their block average isn't even the equivalent to one Jeff Withey.
F Justin Wesley (Finger)
Kansas' frontcourt has been firing on all cylinders. C Jeff Withey has been impressive as usual, averaging 13.8 PPG, 7.6 RPG, and 5.6 BPG, the highest in Division 1. Forward Kevin Young has been hot in his last three games, averaging 11.3 PPG and 6 rebounds. Forward Perry Ellis continues to struggle but had a decent showing against Belmont, scoring 7 points, 2 rebounds and a assist. The theme for the frontcourt this season has been inside scoring, hitting 57% inside the paint while also providing a stout interior defense on the other side of the court.
Weakness: Outside shooting
Saying that the Jayhawks outside shooting has been atrocious would be an understatement. KU has shot enough bricks this season to build a 2nd Allen Fieldhouse shooting just 35% from the field this while having even less luck outside the arc, shooting just 34% from 3. Kansas is at their best when the attack the basket. When they start settling for jump shots they can let any team creep back into a game.
Player Trending Up: F Kevin Young
Young has been rehabbing pretty well form his broken hand. Young's stats don't do him justice of late. Young is averaging 6.5 PPG and 6.4 RPG, but over the last three games he has averaged double digits in scoring (11.3 PPG). If Young can continuously score about 9 or 10 points per game with success attacking around the rim, Young could add an underrated weapon to the Kansas starting 5.
Player Trending Down: F Perry Ellis
It may be too early to criticize a youngin' such as Ellis, but he is hardly living up to his McDonald All-American Status. Ellis has surpassed 7 points just twice this season, and has been averaging only 4.2 PPG and 2.6 RPG in his last 5 games. Ellis scored 7 points in his last game against Belmont, so hopefully we are seeing the beginning of Ellis' "coming out party". Ellis is a very fundamentally sound player with a lot of potential, but he needs to be more aggressive and up the intensity in order to reach the level that Bill Self sees in him.
The Jayhawks offense has been hot over their last 3 games averaging 87.6 PPG and a 42 3-point percentage. The Spiders have shot well beyond the arc all season long, hitting 38.8% from three, though so did Belmont and they struggled massively. Despite the underdog status for the Spiders, Richmond looks to compete in the Fieldhouse and pit their offense (79.9 PPG) against the Jayhawks stout defense (59.5) in a game that could well resemble the one we just witnessed against Belmont.