After 28 days away from the mystical confines of Phog Allen Fieldhouse, the Kansas Jayhawks (7-3) finally return home Saturday morning to face the Georgetown Hoyas (7-2). The game will be broadcast on ESPN with tip-off at 11 a.m. CST.
It has been a long absence from home for Kansas as they have went just 3-3 over the past month, with one loss to Villanova on a neutral court in the Bahamas, and losses on the road at Colorado and Florida.
Finals are over and the young Jayhawks can spend a few weeks concentrating on getting better. At times, Kansas has looked extremely good, and at other times, poor defense, poor passing, a poor understanding of the half court offense, and poor outside shooting have caused the Jayhawks to not look very good at all.
Kansas is led in scoring, as expected, by freshman Andrew Wiggins with 15.9 points per game. Perry Ellis is the only other player averaging in double figures with 14.1. Three other Jayhawks average more than 8 points a game.
Ellis lead the team in rebounds with 6.7 a contest, with Joel Embiid right behind with 6.5 caroms a game. Naadir Tharpe tallies 5.1 assists on outing to top the team, and Embiid has the most steals with 11, and blocked shots with 24.
The Jayhawks have struggled mightily against zone defenses this season, so it will not be surprising if Kansas sees one from the Hoyas Saturday. Kansas is still struggling from 3-point range, hitting just 31.8% o f their attempts from behind the arc (49-154). This percentage needs to creep up over the 35% mark for Kansas to open up the middle. Quick cuts to the middle by the big men, and on target, timely passes from the perimeter will also help crumble a zone.
Kansas hasn’t done any of these things particularly well yet this season.
The Hoyas haven’t played the strongest schedule in the world. They have beaten Kansas State (90-63), and they edged out VCU (84-80), but they lost to Oregon (82-75) and Northeastern (63-56). Still, they come to Lawrence with a talented roster.
Sophomore guard D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera lead Georgetown in scoring with 16.9 points a game. Senior guard Markel Starks adds 15.7 tallies a contest, and junior center Joshua Smith pitches in with 14.1 a game.
The Hoyas are led by junior forward Nate Lubick in rebounding with 6.3 boards a game. Starks tops the team in assists with 4.8 an outing, and Smith-Rivera has the most steals with 13.
The most intriguing Hoya may be Joshua Smith. The junior stands at 6’10″ but weighs 350 pounds, outweighing every Jayhawk by at least 90 pounds. Smith can score but he is a non factor on the glass, averaging less than 4 rebounds a game.
It will be interesting to see how the Jayhawks attack Smith. Ellis is too slight of build to draw duty, but Kansas can throw Embiid, Tarik Black, Jamari Traylor, and Landen Lucas at him. It should be fun to see if the Jayhawks can handle this behemoth.
As always, Kansas is looking to improve on both ends of the court. This team really struggles passing the ball in the half court offensive sets, maybe more than any Bill Self team to date.
The kids have yet to realize that to play an up and down game in open court, they need to play defense first. There was improvement in the second half of the New Mexico game, but they need to do it for a whole 40 minutes.
If nothing else, enjoy yet another quality opponent for the Jayhawks. While other schools are dressing up their records playing a series of cupcakes, Kansas is going toe-to-toe with some of the finest competition in the country. While 40-point blowouts at home against Northern Southeastern Central State are all fine and dandy, these games against good teams are so much better to watch.
Tags: Kansas Jayhawks