After a dismantling of Chaminade, Kansas takes on a BYU team who had its own impressive start to the Mauli I mean Maui Invitational, defeating UCLA by 15. It’s been an up and down start for the Cougars this year, as they’ve paired impressive wins over UCLA and at Houston with a puzzling loss at Boise State and a narrow home win over Southern Utah.
Even though BYU is ranked outside the top 50 in KenPom, they do some things that should frustrate the Jayhawks. First, as you’d expect, they have a lot of experience. BYU starts three seniors and a junior, and are ranked 15th in KenPom’s experience statistic. Secondly, the Cougars make a lot of threes - 38 percent of their attempts to be exact. While they don’t take more than an average amount of them in terms of percentage of total field goal attempts, BYU gets a few more off in terms of pure numbers than you might expect due to the fact they rarely turn the ball over.
Secondly, they do an incredible job at limiting 3-point attempts. BYU is 12th nationally in that stat, allowing opponents to shoot around 27 percent of their field goal attempts from beyond the arc. Some of that is likely due to the tendencies of the opponents they’ve faced, but it is impressive nonetheless.
There are some things Kansas should like, however. First, the Cougars don’t have a very good 2-point defense, allowing teams to shoot over 50 percent on twos against them, and they don’t provide much resistance at the rim either, ranking among the worst nationally in shot blocking. To piggyback off that, while BYU is above average in height, that stat is mostly due to some size in the backcourt and on the wings. They mostly go 6-9 and 6-7 inside, and without a ton of athleticism down low, so Kansas should be able to get away with playing two big men a lot, or they could take advantage of Marcus Garrett’s athleticism advantage over whomever is guarding him, allowing Garrett to get into the lane at will.
Players to Watch
TJ Haws, 6-4 senior guard
Haws is the rare BYU player who isn't a very good 3-point shooter, but he’s good at everything else. He was 2nd in the WCC last year in both assist rate and getting to the free throw line, and he’s an above 50 percent shooter from two.
Jake Toolson, 6-5 senior wing
Toolson will probably get the Marcus Garrett treatment, as he is shooting over 45 percent from three this year and is over 41 percent from his career. That’s about all he does offensively, but a high volume high efficiency 3-point shooter should be problem 1 for Kansas to stop.
Alex Barcello, 6-2 junior guard
An Arizona transfer, Barcello’s game has taken off this year. He is shooting 50 percent from three (granted on just 14 attempts) and has turned himself into a pretty good perimeter defender. He’s really struggled in his career against top tier opponents, however.
Kansas is favored by 10 in this one, and with some matchup advantages inside, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them cover. I do think, though, that BYU will take a few more threes than they usually do and with that combined with the notoriously soft rims inside the Lahaina Civic Center, I think BYU will pull off the cover, although I still like Kansas to win 78-71 and advance to the Maui Championship.
Record ATS: 1-3 :(