BOULDER, Colo. — As the temperatures hover in the single digits here in Colorado, No. 6 Kansas prepares to face Colorado at the Coors Events Center at 2:15 p.m. Here are four things to know before the Jayhawks tip off against the Buffaloes:
By RUSTIN DODD
The Kansas City Star
• 1. If you were underwhelmed by freshman Andrew Wiggins’ performance during the Jayhawks’ three-game stay at the Battle 4 Atlantis, you weren’t the only one.
Wiggins was upset as well.
“Not good at all,” Wiggins said, describing his play in the Bahamas. “I don’t think I played good. I think a lot of people on my team stepped up, especially in those two games that we won.”
After averaging just 11 points and 4.6 rebounds in three games, Wiggins talked about settling into the Jayhawks’ offensive system before the trip to Colorado.
• 2. The only blemish on Colorado’s record thus far is a season-opening loss to Baylor, the same Baylor that edged Kentucky in the wee hours of Friday night/Saturday morning in Arlington, Texas.
But the Buffs, ranked 38th in the country in Ken Pomeroy’s computer rankings, haven’t been tested much since. Their best win came at home against Harvard (now 30th in KenPom), and five of the victories were against teams ranked outside the top 100.
As of Saturday morning, KenPom gave Colorado a 48 percent chance of pulling the upset and snapping a 19-game losing streak to KU.
• 3. Colorado has done it with defense thus far. In his third season in Boulder, Tad Boyle’s defense ranks 19th in defensive efficiency. That aligns pretty well with how Boyle’s teams have played the last two seasons, when he led Colorado to back-to-back NCAA tournaments for the first time since the early 1960s.
(In Boulder, the line of the moment is #RollTad.)
Last season, Colorado ranked 19th in defensive efficiency and 123rd in offense. Colorado’s Askia Booker, a 6-foot-2 guard, dominates the offense, taking 31.7 percent of the Buffs’ shot attempts when he’s on the floor. For the season, though, he’s shooting just 37.6 percent from the floor and 23.8 percent (10 of 42) from three-point range.
Kansas would be smart to force the ball away from leading scorer Spencer Dinwiddie (15.3 points per game), and let Booker bomb away from outside.
• 4. For Kansas, it’ll be freshman Frank Mason taking over for junior Naadir Tharpe at the point guard spot. Mason, of course, has already made one start this season, but that was when Tharpe was serving a one-game suspension in the Jayhawks’ opener against Louisiana Monroe.
Tharpe has averaged 28.3 minutes per game, while Mason has averaged 19.4 minutes off the bench. Tharpe will still play considerable minutes, so will that minute breakdown just flip? Barring foul trouble, Mason will probably play closer to 28 minutes and Tharpe closer to 20. But we’ll see.
Another question: Can Self curb Mason’s appetite for three-pointers? Mason hit a big trey in the second half against Wake Forest, but for the most part, teams have been giving him open looks for good reason. He’s shooting just two of 14 from three-point range on the season. Take Mason’s numbers away, and KU would be shooting 33 percent from three-point range instead of 30.7. That’s a relatively significant difference.
To reach Rustin Dodd, call 816-234-4937 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at twitter.com/rustindodd.