The Kansas Jayhawks (18-6, 9-2) will try to keep the TCU Horned Frogs (9-14, 0-11) winles in Big 12 Saturday afternoon at 3 p.m. CST. The Jayhawks try to bounce back from their Big Monday loss in Manhattan to the Kansas State Wildcats.
One of the most noticeable things about the game against the Wildcats was the overall lack of physicality by the Jayhawks. Part of this was because Jamari Traylor did not play because of disciplinary reasons, and he is one of the hardest running engines on the team.
Another was the continued slump of freshman Joel Embiid. Whether it was because of some health issues, or if it was because he wasn’t playing at a level that pleased his coach, Embiid did not play much in Manhattan, and when he did, he was barely a factor.
While TCU is not a strong opponent, the Jayhawks need to get their mojo back after losing two of their last four games. If the Jayhawks come in with with a carefree attitude, they will probably still win against an inferior opponent but it will not be the kind of attitude Bill Self wants form his team.
Of course, the Jayhawks are led in scoring by Andrew Wiggins with 16.0 points a game. Perry Ellis is netting 13.2 a game, and Embiid, despite his recent struggles, is still averaging 10.7. Wayne Selden, Jr. adds 10.2 per contest.
Embiid is still leading the team in rebounds with 7.8, and Naadir Tharpe dishes out 5.3 assists an outing.
The Horned Frogs have two players who average double digits. Kyan Anderson tops the team with 16.3 points and 4.9 assists, and Amric Fields drops in 13.6 a game. Freshman Karviar Shepherd leads TCU with 6.9 rebounds.
Anderson is a tough competitor, and he gets to the free throw line frequently. He has 137 attempts, sinking 117 of them for 85.4%. The Jayhawks will need to find a way to contain Anderson, and guard him without fouling. If Anderson can be taken out of the flow of the game, TCU doesn’t have the weapons to compete with Kansas.
The Jayhawks are protecting the ball much better of late but they are still frustratingly inconsistent on defense. They surrendered 86 points, albeit in overtime, to Kansas State, a terrible shooting team. It was the most points the Wildcats have scored all season.
The young Jayhawks just don’t understand that defense is a controllable part of the game, that consistent effort and technique are a must. It is not something you can play when you feel like it.
The Horned Frogs won’t offer much of a challenge in Allen Fieldhouse, but Kansas needs to jump on TCU early and hard. They need to blow TCU out of the gym by creating scoring opportunities on the defensive end of the court.
Kansas should win easily, but will they?
(NOTE: Joel Embiid will today’s game due to sore knee and back.)