The only true cupcake on Kansas’s nonconference schedule, Texas Southern comes in to Allen Fieldhouse at 0-4, with only one of those losses by a margin of fewer than 10 points.
With four starters back from last year’s SWAC championship team, Texas Southern unsurprisingly hasn’t been terrible offensively this year. They’ve scored a point per possession in two of their four games, and are shooting almost 50 percent on twos for the season. They’re also turning it over on just 19 percent of their possessions. Still, they shot under 30 percent on threes last season, ranked 9th in the SWAC in offensive rebounding, and are rebounding just 22 percent of their misses this season. Add that to the fact they shot right around 40 percent on twos against their best opponent this year (Gonzaga) and there could be quite a few misses with no one there to even attempt to grab an offensive rebound. That isn’t a very good recipe to beat Kansas in Allen Fieldhouse.
Defense has been a bit less of a mixed bag, in that it has all been terrible. Texas Southern hasn’t held a team under a point per possession all season, and it’s been pretty bad all over the place. They’re allowing teams to take a ton of threes, shoot well on twos, and they rank worse than 300th nationally in forcing turnovers and defensive rebounding. Obviously there is some sample size magic and strength of schedule magic at work there, but the fact remains Kansas will probably win the shot volume war by quite a bit.
Players to Watch
Donte Clark, 6-4 senior guard
Clark ranked in the top 10 in both fouls drawn and free throw rate in the SWAC last season, and that’s where he gets a lot of his offense. He is a career 76 percent free throw shooter, but has shot just 32 percent from deep on over 400 attempts. He’s an OK defender and has been one of the team’s best defensive rebounders this year.
Trayvon Reed, 7-2 junior forward
It’s rare a SWAC team gets a 7-2 player, but Reed transferred after one season at Auburn. He was a top 100 recruit and top 5 center in the class of 2015, so despite a lackluster college career thus far, there’s no doubt he has some talent. He is shooting 71 percent on twos, and he’s been a good rebounder, but surprisingly hasn’t been a great shot blocker. I imagine Azubuike will have his hands a bit full, but he should be able to neutralize Reed in a way TSU’s opponents haven’t been able to thus far.
Demontrae Jefferson, 5-7 sophomore guard
I’m not sure whether Jefferson will play in this one. He has missed their last two games, but a Google search doesn’t reveal anything regarding an injury or suspension, so apologies. If he does play, Jefferson is shooting 7-14 from three so far this year, though he did shoot just 30 percent last year, and he had 20 points in the season opening loss to Gonzaga. As you’d imagine from a 5-7 guard, he hasn’t been great on twos, but he’d probably be the most challenging perimeter guard for Kansas’s backcourt if he does play.
Keys to the Game
- Rest - Can we just do this for every game? I know Kansas doesn’t have any depth, but maybe Chris Teahan can play 30 minutes per game and give Graham, Newman, Svi, etc. some breaks.
- Fouls - Kansas got into some foul trouble against South Dakota State, and while it likely wouldn’t matter in this one, you don’t want to see Azubuike and Lightfoot nailed to the bench for too long.
- Compliance skills - let’s get Billy Preston’s car situation figured out soon eh.
Texas Southern is pretty bad, and they’ve played fairly fast thus far this year, so I think there will be a lot of time to pack on the points. Given how many threes they give up, I like Kansas to cruise. I’ll say 101-67.