The Kansas Jayhawks have just defeated their 2nd Pac 12 in Oregon State and despite the Beavers hot outside shooting KU was able to pull out the win 84-78. Kansas takes on a familiar foe in their 3rd Pac 12 opponent this year, Colorado. This matchup was a regular in the Big 12, though the Buffs’ basketball program has flourished since the move starting the year 6 and 0 and even had a slight stint in the top 25 for the first time since 1997. Both of these teams come into the game sharing the same sense of rivalry, while also displaying their equally talented guard corps. The Buffs may be from the mountains, but the Field house will be rockin’ in welcoming them back to the team they haven’t beat since 2003.
Saturday, December 8th, 2:00 PM ET
No Injuries To Report
Much like the Jayhakws tandem guards Johnson and McLemore, the Buffs’ too have a talented duo. G Spencer Dinwiddie (17.8 PPG-4.8 RPG-2.5 APG-1 BPG) and G Askia Booker (14.1 PPG-3.5 APG-2.8 APG-1.4 SPG) provide most of the scoring for the Buffs’ while G Sabatino Chen (4.5 PPG-2.5) contributes in quieter ways. Booker and Dinwiddie combine to be 45.1 % outside the perimeter, so it is imperative for KU to stress their normally stingy outside defense.
The Colorado Buffaloes haven’t been the most defensively minded team in the nation. In their last 4 games, their margin of victory has been 5.25, and even a loss to Wyoming. The Buffs have let teams score 52% of their points scored outside, which should give KU an easier time in a sector they have been struggling with, although with such lenient outside defense probably means a much more tough inside defense.
No Injuries To Report
Strength: Scoring in the paint
In the month of November KU was a one trick pony, prolifically scoring inside the paint, maybe December will bring improved outside shooting, though why should KU mess with success? KU has shot 56% in the paint while shooting 46% overall. McLemore (14.9 PPG-5.7 RPG-2.4 APG) and Withey (14.6 PPG-8.1 RPG-5.7 BPG) have lit up the boards for the Jayhawks, both totaling up for 26 dunks this year.
Weakness: Inexperienced bench
While it is refreshing that KU actually has a decent bench this year, it is inexperienced nonetheless and is littered with youngins’. Perry Ellis (6.4 PPG-4 RPG) has been a nice addition to the bench, but has yet to show grit in situations that call for it. In the Jayhawks last game against Oregon State, Self played G Naadier Tharpe, F Jamari Traylor, G Rio Adams and G Andrew White III all in an attempt to find a scorer, though most of them came up short. The bench has proven they aren’t as effective in dire situations, like when McLemore was in foul trouble and let the Beavers come within 3 of upsetting KU.
Player Trending Up: G Spencer Dinwiddie
Dinwiddie has been the most ecstatic of the guards for Colorado, averaging 17.8 PPG, 4.8 RPG and 2.5 APG. In his last 3 games, Dinwiddie has averaged 25.6 PPG, 3.3 APG and has shot 50%, 11 for 22, beyond the arc, so the Jayhawks must strengthen their perimeter defense, or else Dinwiddie could be a persistent problem for the crimson and blue.
Player Trending Down: G Elijah Johnson
Johnson hasn’t been as impressive as of late averaging only 10 PPG-2.6 RPG-4.9 APG. Though perhaps it is the Sprint Center has been his problem, in his 3 games in KC he has averaged 6.3 points per game. His rebounding and assist making presence has been there, averaging 7.6 APG and 3 RPG although KU will certainly need Johnson’s scoring in what will be a tight game in the Field house where he has averaged 11.6 PPG, so perhaps he is more of a home warrior than road.
With this game being played in the Fieldhouse, KU should win this game: should. We have seen KU struggle in the Fieldhouse this year, Chattanooga up double digits on KU and even the Spartans staging a comeback, both of those games featured hot shooting from downtown, and Colorado is about as good as anyone at shooting the 3 with a 42% in their last 4 games. Luckily the Jayhawks have had a good outside defense, opponents shooting only 35% form beyond the arc. Look for the Jayhawks to take advantage of the Buffs’ poor outside defense, trying to improve their poor 33% outside shooting mark while also scoring in the paint as KU usually does.