The Kansas Jayhawks prepare for a game tonight that will evoke mixed emotions in Allen Fieldhouse. The feelings felt will not be the anxiety or pressure caused by the opponent, but rather the unwelcome reminder that unfortunately this will be the last game for a group of seniors in Allen Fieldhouse. Senior Night. A starting rotation made up of four seniors not only helps aid the Jayhawks with experience, but also makes this date even more memorable. C Jeff Withey, G Elijah Johnson, G Travis Releford, and F Kevin Young look to make their final game in Allen Fieldhouse a memorable one and playing against Texas Tech should make that goal very feasible.
When: Monday, March 4, 6:00 PM ET
Where: Allen Fieldhouse, Lawrence Kansas
No injuries to report.
Texas Tech may not wield the most daunting backcourt in college basketball,but it is their main source of scoring. F Jaye Crockett (12.0 PPG-6.8 RPG) leads Tech in scoring and rebounding and is joined by F Dejan Kravic (8.8 PPG-5.1 RPG) and F Justin Tolbert (9.4 PPG-5.6 RPG)
Weakness: Non-Scoring Stats
Other than scoring, there is nothing special about this team. The Red Raiders are ranked 9th in the Big 12 in assists (11 APG), 9th in rebounding (32.7 RPG) and are 7th in blocked shots. The Red Raider's defense has been heinous during the season, allowing teams to hit 46% from the field and average 72.4 PPG when playing against them. Whether on offense or defense, if Tech isn't scoring they ain't doin' notin'
No Injuries to Report
Before February 11th, listing offense as a strength for Kansas would make people think you haven't watched a single game of Kansas basketball. Listing that now would give an opposite reaction. Since their 3 game skid, Kansas has averaged 82.8 PPG while hitting an average of 29 of 59 shots for a 49% FG% mark. On the season Kansas has dominated inside and outside the paint, hitting 54% and 39% respectively. In the past five games, G Elijah Johnson (10.3 PPG-4.7 APG) has averaged 16 PPG, C Jeff Withey (13.6 PPG-8.6 RPG-4 BPG) and G Travis Releford (12.2 PPG-3.7 RPG) has averaged 14 PPG.
Weakness: Consistency at the 4
Unlike last year, the forward position has not been a strength for Kansas and the recent inconsistency only adds more concern going forward (no pun intended). F Kevin Young (7.7 PPG-6.9 RPG) has been in and out lately, scoring only 6 points and 2 rebounds in his game against West Virginia after scoring 13 points and 9 rebounds against Iowa State prior. Same thing with F Perry Ellis (4.7 PPG-3.5 RPG). In his game against the Mountaineers he scored just 2 points and had 2 rebounds but had 8 points and 6 rebounds against the Cyclones. The inconsistencies at the Power Forward position go beyond the last two games, but if this pattern continues the frontcourt is in for a good game tonight.
Trending Up: Outside Shots
Being able to dominant in the paint is good, but being able hit outside is even better. In the Jayhawks last five games, Kansas has hit 55.5% of their shots outside the paint and are hitting 51.8% of their shots from beyond the arc. That brings the outside shooting percentage and three-point percentage to 39% and 37% respectively on the season. Major contributors to this recent trend has been guards McLemore and Johnson who have combined for a 52.5% 3-point percentage in their last five games.
Trending Down: Consistency of McLemore
While a 36 point performance doesn't warrant a "trending down" label, comparing that stat to his last four games does. Against West Virginia, at Iowa State, VS TCU, at Oklahoma State and vs Kansas State, McLemore has scored 36, 7, 14, 7 and 13 points respectively. This trend should tell us that he has been great at home, but not on the road. And that helps McLemore for only one more game. He needs to figure out how to play away from the Fieldhouse for this team to reach its potential in the tournament.
Much like the game against West Virginia, this game should provide us with offensive fireworks and a presentation of rock-solid defense. The only down side to this game is that it will be the last time we will see Withey, Johnson, Releford, Young (and most likely McLemore) play at "The Phog". Using few time outs and most of the clock would be advantageous to those seniors who want to get their speeches out of the way and shift their focus to Jayhawks last hurdle in Waco, TX.