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Matchup Breakdown: Kansas vs. Kansas State

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Saturday when Kansas takes the court against the Wildcats in Bramlage they'll be faced with a team that truthfully matches up fairly well with them when things are going well.  As we saw Monday night that isn't always the case.  The Jayhawks had a decisive advantage on the interior against the Tigers and exploited that with an excellent game plan.  With Kansas State that edge won't be as apparent.  Throw in solid guard play and we have a game on our hands.  The matchups make this an interesting contest, the team winning those head to heads quite obviously...wins the game.

This is a pretty high level overview, nothing too detailed but here is a quick look at the matchups for the starters and a couple of keys off the bench for Kansas.

Point Guard

Sherron Collins, Tyshawn Taylor vs. Denis Clemente

Sherron Collins is a scorer.  He gets to the basket and finishes with the best of them.  He also has been a consistent threat from beyond the arc.  At times Collins struggles with the super quick guards and Clemente is that.  Whether or not the pair will matchup on the defensive end will be the question.

Tyshawn Taylor can be Kansas' best on ball and perimeter defender.  With the success of Jacob Pullen and the potential of Denis Clemente Tyshawns contibutions on the defensive end in this one will far outweigh what he might provide offensively.

Denis Clemente was the Wildcats leading scorer from a year ago.  His shooting has dipped slightly this season and he's taken a bit of a supporting role as Jacob Pullen has jumped into the spotlight.  Still Clemente is quick and can hurt you with both dribble penetration and from behind the arc.  If Kansas insists on doubling down low, Clemente will play a factor one way or the other in the result of this game

Shooting Guard

Brady Morningstar, Tyrel Reed  vs. Jacob Pullen

Offensively this is a matchup that Pullen wins if he's having a solid night.  As mentioned above Brady might find himself tasked with guarding the quicker Denis Clemente but regardless of who is guarding Pullen he has proven to be a fairly consistent scoring threat this year.

Brady Morningstar is the player that does all the little thing right.  He's Bill Self's most trusted defender, he takes care of the basketball and he find a way to feed the post. 

Tyrel Reed is in a similar mold.  Doesn't possess the same defensive abiliity as Brady but is more lethal from behind the arc. 

The goal for the game needs to be a "reasonable" contribution from these two.  It's hard to place them in a situation where they "win" this matchup but if they can stay consistent and contribute in the areas they have become known for it can certainly be enough.  If they elevate that to the Tyrady Morningreed level, then all bets are off.

Small Forward

Xavier Henry vs. Dominique Sutton

Well this one's a bit tricky.  Early in the season Xavier Henry would have been the clear cut advantage on this one.  Recent struggles make him a very similar player to Sutton.

Sutton provides Kansas State with an average but efficient scorer.  He's a physical body at the three spot, rebounds well and with his length he should be able to make life a little difficult for Henry.

The good news for Kansas is that Henry has shown a renewed focus on the defensive end and in terms of rebounding.  His shooting showed signs of life recently and if he can manage the physical play of the Wilcats he could provide a big boost.

The Bigs

Marcus Morris, Cole Alrich vs Jamar Samuels, Curtis Kelly

This is a matchup that will be absolutely huge in the final result.  Before the Texas game I said that the one way K State wins is if their bigs beat the Texas bigs.  K-State accomplished that and then some.  Kansas State was able to make the Longhorns bigs look soft, miss easy buckets and become almost invisible.  Meanwhile Kansas State attacked the basket, hit the offensive boards and converted high percentage baskets

For Kansas, Marcus Morris has been on fire lately.  If he can continue to be a viable 2nd or 3rd scoring option for Kansas that will be huge.  His toughness will be tested, he'll get pushed, shoved and sent to the line.  If Morris can weather the storm, push back and knock down free throws he has the potential for another solid day at the four spot for Kansas.

Cole just needs to continue to be Cole.  The Cole from Iowa State and Missouri that controls the paint on the defensive end, dominates the boards and gets a few points on top of that.

For Samuels and Kelly it's about being physical.  They can attack the Kansas bigs and create two potential problems.  The first would be foul trouble.  If Cole ends up with extended time on the bench it changes the way Kansas has to play defense.  The second is an overall toughness standpoint.  Kansas State has the ability to make life very uncomfortable for everyone on the floor.  The team churns out fouls at a high clip and makes you earn everything.  If they begin to get the best of the Jayhawks in this area, it will become difficult to overcome. 

Kansas is at it's best when the inside game is working.  This will likely be the most physical test to date.