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Kansas Jayhawks basketball vs UMKC Kangaroos Preview

NCAA Basketball: UMKC at Oklahoma State Rob Ferguson-USA TODAY Sports

Kansas hosts UMKC for the first time since a 99-52 win in 2011. Usually I don’t editorialize here but personally I am glad to see UMKC on the schedule. It’s always nice to play a team so close and given their proximity to Lawrence I even think a home and home or 2 for 1 like Indiana has with IPFW would be fun.

UMKC has had a decent start to the season, starting off at 6-3 including a neutral court win over Murray State. They also lost by just 7 at Creighton, which is the Blue Jays’ smallest margin of victory all season.

UMKC has a pretty up tempo, pressure based attack. They play 72 possessions per game on average, with their offensive and defensive possessions each taking around 15 seconds. Unlike the last couple teams to come into Allen Fieldhouse, UMKC lets it fly from deep (41.4 percent of field goal attempts) and can make them (42.3 percent, 9th nationally). The Kangaroos have 4 guys with at least 10 attempts shooting over 40 percent from deep. They’re one of the smallest teams in the country, so naturally they aren’t very good from two (220th nationally) or at rebounding (on either side).

Defensively, the Roos need to force steals. They grab the ball from opponents on 10 percent of possessions and force turnovers on 21.7 percent of opponents’ possessions. Somehow I don’t see that happening with Frank Mason and Devonte Graham. If it gets beyond that, it’s pretty much over. Teams shoot 52 percent from two and rebound 37 percent of their misses, and get to the line a ton. Kansas shouldn’t have much trouble scoring in this one.

Players to Watch

Lavell Boyd, senior guard

With Martez Harrison suspended, Boyd has picked up the slack. He is taking 34 percent of the team’s shots while playing, has an assist rate of 29 percent, and a turnover rate of 16 percent. He’s also shooting 41 percent from deep.

Isaiah Ross, freshman guard

Ross is shooting 44 percent from deep, and has taken 39 threes compared to just 6 twos. He also barely rebounds, barely passes, and barely draws fouls. He’s like be playing pickup.

Darnell Tillman, senior forward

Tillman is the big inside presence for the Roos. He has just an 11 percent usage rate, but is shooting 67 percent on twos this year, has an offensive rebound rate of 17.6 percent, and a defensive rebound rate of 18.1 percent. If anyone is going to harass the KU big men, it’s him.

Things to watch for:

  1. 3 point shooting - UMKC is allowing opponents to shoot just 31.8 percent from deep, but allow an average number of attempts. On the flipside, they take a ton and make a ton. If they start out hot, maybe they put some pressure on the hosts.
  2. Rest - This is a bit of a broken record, but Mason and Graham need to rest as much as possible. Also, you saw how much better Landen Lucas played after some time off. Some more time to rest would be helpful.
  3. Josh Jackson - Let’s see. UMKC is going to run up and down the floor, has a bunch of small guys, and isn’t good at stopping people once they get inside. Sounds like a recipe for some dunks.

The Pick

UMKC might keep it close early due to the 3-point shooting, but Kansas should obviously run away with this. I think there will be quite a few points scored, with the final margin depending on when Self puts in the walk ons. Like I said earlier this year, these games are mostly a pure guess, but give me Kansas 99, UMKC 72.