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Kansas Jayhawks at Kansas State Wildcats Basketball Preview

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Kansas State v Baylor Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images

Kansas takes a break from its apparent ascension to the top of the college football universe by taking on K State in episode 2 of the Sunflower Showdown tonight. The Wildcats sit at 5-5 in the league after pulling off the upset at Baylor on Saturday, and have been basically exactly middle of the pack this conference season. Gee I can’t see Kansas losing to a mediocre team.

Anyway, K State is probably a little better than they are advertised on offense. They rank 3rd in the league in 2-point shooting, and shoot 37 percent from deep while taking a decent amount of shots from out there. They rank just 5th in the league in efficiency at 1.06 points per possession in part because they rebound just 29 percent of their misses and shoot just 70 percent from the line despite taking more free throws than anyone in the league. K State just gets all the calls or something.

Defensively the Wildcats are also probably a bit better than advertised. Opponents shoot 45.5 percent from deep against them, but they do a pretty good job of limiting attempts, and opponents shoot just 47 percent inside the arc against the Wildcats. They also lead the league in forcing turnovers at 24.6 percent of possessions but I don’t think that will affect the Jayhawks as much tonight given their newfound love of apparently just giving the ball to the other team.

Players to Watch

Dean Wade, sophomore forward

Wade missed the big three late in the previous matchup, but is shooting 39 percent from deep for the season. He’s also shooting 62 percent on twos. Wade doesn’t help out on the glass at all, but a guy who can score that efficiently without committing a lot of turnovers is valuable indeed. He is horrible on defense, so Kansas should attack him repeatedly in an effort to neutralize his offensive impact or get him out of the game.

Kamau Stokes, sophomore guard

The Maryland native is 9th in the league in usage and 9th in 3-point shooting at 43 percent. He shoots just 33 percent inside the arc, though, so Kansas would be wise to run him off the line as much as possible. He also is 4th in the league in assist rate, but turns it over quite a bit as well.

DJ Johnson, senior forward

Johnson had about a thousand points in the first matchup, and goes to the line more than anyone in the league. He also shoots 60 percent on twos, which is 6th in the league. He’s obviously going to be a handful.

Things to Watch For

  1. Perimeter shooting - Kansas got burned by a historic shooting day this weekend. K State isn’t quite that good from deep, but good enough to win the game. Kansas, meanwhile, needs to let it fly because easy baskets inside will be tough to come by.
  2. Turnovers - Like I said, K State is the best turnover forcing team in the league, and Kansas will need to take care of the ball.
  3. Rebounding - The Wildcats are pretty bad on the glass at both ends. Kansas has struggled a bit at times, although they played K State to a draw in that area in the first meeting.

The Pick

If this game were last week I would say I was pretty confident in Kansas doing things on offense to take advantage of K State’s defensive soft spots (eg. tons of pick and roll with Josh Jackson), but KU’s inability to adjust on offense on Saturday (or rather the inexplicable going away from what worked the whole half) has me a bit gunshy. I think the defense will be OK, although subject to 3-point luck, but I suspect K State will exact some revenge, 83-77.