The Kansas Jayhawks are coming off the CBE championship game where the Jayhawks relied on their interior defense, limiting Saint Louis to just 26% inside the paint. KU returns to the Fieldhouse to take on the San Jose State Spartans. This will be the 2nd time this month that the Jayhawks have played a team with their mascot being a Spartan, but that is besides the point. The Spartans have found most of their success from their guard play shooting 52% outside. This game features two talented backcourts with plenty of scoring power, though Kansas will hope to smash the Spartans for their 4th straight win.
San Jose State:
No Injuries to report.
The Spartans are 61st overall in scoring at 76.3 PPG, and most of that scoring effort is contributed by the Spartans backcourt. G James Kinney (21 PPG-6.5 RPG-2 APG) leads the backcourt along with G Nick Grieves (18 PPG-2 APG) and G D.J. Brown (12.0 PPG-3.5 APG- 3 RPG).
Weakness: Interior Defense
While the Spartans offense has been above average, the defense could use some work. Two of the spartan losses have been decided by 5 points or less, but the spartans have let opponents score 33 out of 60 attempts in the paint. That's a pretty potent 55% FG percentage on the interior. With the Jayhawks orchestrating most of their offense inside, KU should look to take advantage of this perceived weakness.
F Zach Peters (Shoulder)
The offense may not be as prolific as some might hope, but the defense is keeping the Jayhawks margin of victory at a stunning 21 points. KU has not let a team score over 70 points yet and is limiting their opponents to 55.4 ppg. Kansas defense on the perimeter has been solid allowing only 60 of 176 attempts to fall (34%) and Jeff Withey has boosted the interior defense where opponents are shooting just 41% inside the paint.
The Jayhawks have been effective in the paint and they also shot the 3 well in the CBE Classic (15 for 37), but KU just can't seem to hit the mid range jumper with any consistency. This is of course an overall college basketball problem but the Jayhawks shot 7 for 24 (29%) inside the arc.
Player Trending Up: C Jeff Withey
This is the type of Withey we need to see more often. So maybe expecting 25 points and 7 blocks per game is a little unreasonable, but averaging a double-double is definitely within Withey's reach. We can expect to see the big man tear up the Spartans defense inside, taking advantage of their less than impressive interior defense.
Player Trending Down: G Elijah Johnson
Johnson by no means has been horrible, though his performance in the CBE Classic was below par. Against Washington State and Saint Louis, Johnson scored 13 points, grabbed 4 rebounds in total. On a positive note Johnson did dish out 14 total assists in the CBE Classic. Johnson should have an easier time scoring against the Spartans.
With both teams have almost equal offenses, defense will be the key to the game and the Jayhawks have the huge upper hand. Kansas will be shredding up the paint while also keeping the Spartans offense at bay, with their staggering 36% field goal percentage. Aside from accuracy, KU gets to play in the best home field advantage in all of college basketball, which alone should be enough to silent, or rather numb, the Spartans offense.