Previewing Kansas vs. Washington State in the CBE Classic
The Jayhawks take on the Washington State Cougars in the second installment of the CBE Hall of Fame Classic at the Sprint Center in Kansas City. In KU's last game the Jayhawks found themselves in a hole early against the Chattanooga Mocs. Kansas then got off to a quick start in the second half and never looked back to get the 69-55 win. The Cougars are looking to get the upset over Kansas and rebound from their disappointing overtime loss to a then winless Pepperdine team. Both teams will look to showcase their backcourts, though it is the big men F Brock Motum, of Washington State, and C Jeff Withey who could prove to be the X factors in this game.
No Injuries to Report
While F Brock Motum may be the star for the Cougars, the next 4 highest scorers are residing in the backcourt. G Mike Ladd (12.7 PPG-7 RPG) leads the way for the backcourt along with G DaVonte Lacy (11.3 PPG-3.3 APG), G Dexter Kernich-Drew (8.7 PPG), and former Kansas Jayhawk, G Royce Wooldridge (7.7 PPG-3.3 APG).
Weakness: Outside Shooting
In Washington State's last two games the Cougars were 23 for 35 in the paint, a .66 FG % inside. On the flipside the Cougars were 9 for 24 from the field and 11 for 28 beyond the arc. F Brock Motum will try to take the ball inside the paint, if the Jayhawks can limit Motum and the Cougar's effectiveness inside, Washington State will find it harder to put points on the board.
F Landon Lucas (Held out- potential redshirt)
Recently the backcourt has been a bigger strength for Kansas compared to the frontcourt. The focus has been more on SG Ben McLemore and PG Elijah Johnson this year compared to the normally inside heavy Bill Self teams. I think it is safe to say Johnson has gotten out of funk, scoring 18 points and had 4 assists in the comeback against Chattanooga. McLemore does it all for KU. He scores (16 PPG), he dishes out assists (3.7 APG), grabs boards (7.7 RPG) and can even block (1.3 BPG) arguably if it wasn't for McLemore, KU would of have a much harder time against Chattanooga and might have even lost the game
It may be a little early to say, but I think we are witnessing the absence of Danny Manning. Kansas bigs have ruled the Big 12 for the last couple of years, but PF Perry Ellis and C Jeff Withey are hardly making up for the loss of PF Thomas Robinson. While Robinson was a special player, Ellis' lack of scoring (3 PPG in last two games) and rebounding production (5 RPG) is just another highlight in the Jayhawks early offensive struggles. Withey hasn't particularly gotten worse, but he hasn't really gotten better either. Withey is averaging 12 PPG, 9.7 RPG, and 4.3 BPG, but has added only 9.5 PPG in his last two games. This lines up with what he was averaging a year ago. Only time will tell if Withey will pass the double-double mark on a consistent basis like Robinson did so many times last year.
Player Trending Up: F Brock Motum
Brock Motum hasn't exactly trended up after the Cougars lack luster performance in their loss to Pepperdine, but he will prove to be a persistent problem for the Jayhawks. Motum is the 4th highest scorer in the Pac 12 averaging 17.7 PPG and grabs 6.7 RPG as well. Motum is slightly comparable to Thomas Robinson in that if you shut him down the rest of the teams' offense struggles.
Player Trending Down: SG Travis Releford
Poor, poor Releford. No matter how many times he tries for the three he just can't make them. Releford is 0 for 11 this year when shooting from three. Other than his horrible 3-point percentage, his is only averaging 6.3 PPG on the year and scored only 2 points against Chattanooga. While some have said that his defense has gotten better, he has averaged 3 personal fouls in his last two games. At this point Releford is better off giving away the ball, as he did manage 6 assists against Chattanooga.
The main objective for KU should be to shut down the bigman Brock Motum and seal the Cougars off from the paint in order for them to take more outside shots, a weakness of Washington State. If the Jayhawks can do that then they should have no problem capping off the win. Let's just hope that the Cougars don't shoot like G Farad Cobb who went 7 for 9 beyond the arc against Kansas.