No. 7 Kansas Jayhawks (9-1) at Colorado Buffaloes (9-3)
Time: 8 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 21, 2021
Location: CU Events Center, Boulder, Colorado
Radio: IMG Jayhawk Radio Network
1. It’s all about defense
This may assume appealing predictable, accustomed the actuality that this is a Bill Self basketball aggregation we’re talking about.
But as the Jayhawks abide to appearance that they accept a awful able and able breach on best nights, it becomes added and added bright that it’s aegis that will booty this aggregation to the abutting level.
What that agency absolutely and how far bigger arresting efforts can booty them charcoal to be seen. But Self said aftermost anniversary that there is still way too abundant abashing and way too abounding brainy lapses on the arresting end for this aggregation to be advised elite.
He acclimated a appealing basal arresting assumption to allegorize what he meant.
Because there are so abounding new faces and first-year Jayhawks still aggravating to amount things out, Self said the apprenticeship agents has simplified its calls on arresting brawl screens to two words — bottomward or switch. Yet, in contempo games, he has connected apprehend his players bawl out, “Left,” aback opponents advance brawl screens.
That one simple chat can bandy off the absolute accent because it armament the Jayhawks to anticipate best and harder — alike if it’s aloof a burning we’re talking about — rather than alive what’s advancing abutting afore it happens.
Self’s best arresting teams accept been such abundantly because of their adeptness to force opposing offenses to comedy the way they appetite them to play. Self said afresh that he still doubts whether this aggregation can consistently accomplish added teams comedy bad and whether they booty abundant pride in accomplishing so.
“I don’t anticipate we’ll anytime be a abundant abandoned arresting team,” Self said. “I anticipate we can be a really, absolutely acceptable aggregation defense. … We’re aloof not absolutely bought into how we do things yet. We can get there, but we’re not there yet.”
It’s not aloof ball-screen aegis that Self and the Jayhawks are anxious with. The added night, in an 8-point win over Stephen F. Austin, KU gave up 48 credibility in the acrylic and accustomed the Lumberjacks to shoot 53% from the attic for the game, including 61% in the additional half.
“And they didn’t get run-outs the additional half,” Self said of accessible buckets in transition. “That agency they denticulate adjoin our five. It was pitiful. I didn’t anticipate we attentive actual able-bodied at all.”
So, while allotment of advance on aegis comes from the X’s and O’s of it all, Self said actuality a acceptable arresting aggregation — or abandoned apostle — aloft bottomward to one thing. And he bare aloof three words to acquaint it.
“It’s a mindset,” he said.
2. Bigger activity equals bigger defense
Self was so balked with his team’s ball-screen aegis adjoin Stephen F. Austin that it aggressive him to use a chat that adeptness as able-bodied be on the lists of the foulest four-letter words he can anticipate of — zone.
If opposing offenses are activity to abide to advance KU with aerial brawl screens, Self said one solution, if the Jayhawks cannot fix it themselves, would be utilizing “a acceptable zone.”
“But I haven’t done abundant of that aback I’ve been here,” Self noted.
And there’s no acumen to anticipate he’ll accomplish it a basic of KU’s arresting aesthetics any time soon.
The way Self sees it, arena acceptable aegis is all about intensity, pride and effort. Alike the best brawl screens by KU’s opponents do not accept to assignment to accomplishment time afterwards time.
“There’s no acumen why you can’t get through a brawl awning that you accept to about-face them all,” Self said. “There’s no acumen you accept to do that.”
KU’s aegis in contempo years has switched all over the attic throughout the game. But the times aback they do it automatically about accept to do with what allocation of the bold they’re in and what the specific aloof address for anniversary adversary — and anniversary opposing amateur — dictates.
In Self’s mind, some of his players accept become a little too adequate switching during ball-screen actions, which, Self believes, is both accidental and makes things too accessible on the offense.
“You don’t accept to about-face if you’re angry up,” he said. “But aback you’re not angry up and you’re apathetic you accept to about-face because you’re late. It’s aloof a mindset. Absolutely we can do bigger at that. I anticipate that we can bind it up. It’s acceptable in spurts, but it’s not acceptable consistently.”
3. Win the steals competition, win the game
Colorado enters this one at adverse ends of the spectrum aback it comes to banishment turnovers, decidedly via steals.
The Buffaloes are one of the best teams in the country at attention the brawl and preventing steals, giving it abroad in that breadth on aloof 8.1% of opponents’ arresting possessions.
That ranks 64th nationally per KenPom.com and, about speaking, is a agitating additive for success adjoin anybody on any night.
However, the botheration is the Buffs are not about as acknowledged at demography the brawl abroad from their opponents. In fact, CU gets steals at almost the aforementioned amount that it gives them up to its opponents — 8.2% of the time, which ranks 269th nationally.
Tad Boyle’s club is averaging 5.6 steals per game, added than three per bold beneath than Kansas. The affair has absolutely apparent up in CU’s three losses, area Colorado has been out-performed in the steals administration by a absolute of 14-5 adjoin Southern Illinois, UCLA and Tennessee.
The Jayhawks accept been on the appropriate ancillary of the abduct calculation in seven of their 10 amateur this season.
“They’re activity to bouncer you,” Boyle said of the Jayhawks afterwards Saturday’s win over Cal-State Bakersfield. “Our breach will be activated adjoin Kansas. We’re activity to accept to accomplish shots. We’ll accept to execute. We’ll accept to be able with the ball.”
Kansas’ 3-point cutting vs. Colorado’s 3-point defense
Colorado ranks 243rd nationally in adversary 3-point percentage, acceptance its foes to get 40.6% of their credibility from the 3-point shot.
As if that were not bad enough, the Buffs accept apparent no absolute adeptness to alike the arena acreage by befitting up and animadversion in 3-pointers themselves. CU gets 30.3% of its credibility from 3-point range, which ranks 321st nationally and is about 8 abounding allotment credibility lower than the civic average.
In agreement of beeline cutting percentage, Colorado’s aegis allows aloof 32% 3-point shooting. But the Buffs accept watched opponents advance 77 added 3-point shots and accomplish 27 added 3-point shots in their 12 amateur this season.
es out to about 3 added 3-point makes per bold (and seven added attempts), and that cardinal abandoned sets the allowance that Kansas is advantaged by according to Ken Pomeroy.
The Jayhawks accept fared abundant bigger than the Buffaloes in this department, accepting 37.6% of their credibility from 3-point ambit and giving up aloof 31.9%. The abhorrent absolute ranks 32nd nationally, while KU’s arresting accomplishment adjoin the 3-point advance ranks 125th.
In all, added than a third of KU’s advance attempts so far this division accept been 3-pointers.
As a team, KU is cutting 37.6% from 3-point range, with chief Ochai Agbaji arch the way at 48.4%.
Agbaji has fabricated four or added 3-pointers in three of KU’s aftermost four games, including 4 of 9 aftermost Saturday night adjoin Stephen F. Austin and 5 of 7 adjoin Missouri the bold afore that.
Key circling players Remy Martin (38.7), Christian Braun (34.5), Jalen Coleman-Lands (42.1) and Zach Clemence (38.5) all access this one cutting bigger than the mark that Colorado’s aegis has accustomed opponents to accomplish from abaft the 3-point band this season.
That’s not to say this one is activity to be a shootout or that KU will attending to await alone on its 3-point cutting in this one.
Generally speaking, recording as abounding accessible baskets as accessible is a abundant bigger compound for acceptable abroad from home. And that’s abnormally accurate with a Kansas aggregation cutting about 60% from 2-point ambit this season. But several Jayhawks accept apparent that they can get hot from abaft the arc, and if the Buffs acquiesce that to happen, it could be a continued night for the home team.
One of the added absorbing dynamics in this administration comes in the way that the two lineups bout up with one another. CU starts three players 6-foot-8 or taller. And while that could accord the Buffs and bend on the glass, it additionally could accomplish it boxy for the CU aegis to hunt about KU’s abate guards and addition players on the perimeter.
It’s time for Self’s anniversary don’t-make-Christmas-miserable speech.
He hinted at it afterward KU’s win over Stephen F. Austin on Saturday night. And he discusses it, in some anatomy or fashion, appealing abundant every year aloof afore the Jayhawks final bold afore Christmas.
“Hopefully guys accept that Christmas starts afterwards the Colorado bold and not before,” Self said aftermost weekend. “Because we’ve had abounding times area we’ve been on the alley appropriate afore Christmas and it hasn’t consistently formed out great. Remember Temple a few years ago? Whew.”
That bold — a 77-52 accident on the east bank in December of 2014 — was a archetypal archetype of the Jayhawks blockage out early. They were flat, struggled to get activity and struggled through poor beheading on both ends of the attic throughout the game.
Self about puts the team’s achievement in the backward December bold on his leaders, but he’s not aloft demography allotment of the accusation for annihilation that goes south. The goal, of course, is for things to go able-bodied and for the Jayhawks to arch into the breach and their time off with their families activity acceptable about their aftermost outing.
While KU about plays on the alley in the final bold afore Christmas to booty advantage of the aphorism that allows the academy to pay for biking home for the Kansas players, Self fabricated abiding to point out that Colorado additionally will be faced with aggravating to break bound in with the holidays and a little time off appropriate about the corner.
“We can’t booty the access we’ve got to get through it; we’ve got to advance it,” Self said. “It’ll be a challenge, but everybody’s got to go through it. It abiding makes for a nicer Christmas from an attitude standpoint if you comedy able-bodied in the bold afore it.”
KU leads the best alternation with Colorado, 124-40, as their time arena anniversary added dates aback to the Big Eight canicule and earlier. The aboriginal anytime affair amid the two schools came in 1930.
Colorado larboard the Big 12 in 2011 to accompany the Pac-12 and the two above appointment foes accept met three times aback the Buffs anchored for the Pac-12, with Kansas acceptable two of those three meetings. That includes the best contempo bold in the series, a 72-58 Kansas win in Lawrence in 2019.
KenPom.com lists KU as a 9-point admired in this game, with a 79% win probability.
The bold will be the Jayhawks’ aboriginal accurate alley bold of the 2021-22 season. Beforehand this month, the Jayhawks exhausted St. John’s in New York in what was listed as a home bold for the Red Storm. But that one was played off campus at a aloof armpit area abundant like Kansas City’s T-Mobile Center.
So far this season, KU is 4-0 at home and 5-1 in neutral-site contests, including three in Orlando, two in New York and one at T-Mobile Center.
No. 7 Kansas
G – Dajuan Harris, 6-1, 180, Soph.
G – Remy Martin, 6-0, 195, Sr.
G – Ochai Agbaji, 6-5, 210, Sr.
G – Christian Braun, 6-7, 205, Jr.
F – David McCormack, 6-10, 265, Sr.
G – Keeshawn Barthelemy, 6-2, 171, Soph.
G – Elijah Parquet, 6-4, 195, Sr.
F – Tristan da Silva, 6-9, 217, Soph.
F – Jabari Walker, 6-9, 215, Soph.
F – Evan Battey, 6-8, 259, Sr.
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