Before every KU men’s basketball game, The Star’s Jesse Newell previews the Jayhawks’ upcoming opponent with a scouting report and prediction.
Tuesday’s game: Georgia vs. No. 5 Kansas, around 9 p.m. at the Sprint Center in Kansas City.
Opponent’s record: 3-1
KenPom (Ken Pomeroy) Ranking: 61
Point spread: KU by 13 1/2 .
All statistics from KenPom.com and Hoop-Math.com. KenPom stats also only include Division I competition.
▪ Transition defense: Only 14.6 pecent of Georgia’s opponents’ initial shots have been in transition, which is the fifth-lowest mark nationally.
▪ Defensive rebounding: Georgia is 17th in defensive rebounding percentage with three different players ranking in the top 400 in the stat.
▪ Making close shots: The Bulldogs shoot less at the rim than an average NCAA team, but they make the most of those opportunities, ranking 65th in close-shot field-goal percentage.
▪ Forcing turnovers: Coach Mark Fox historically does not emphasize pressure defense, and that’s carried over this year (309th in defensive turnover percentage).
▪ Three-point defense: Georgia has surrendered an above-average number of threes this season, with opponents making 35 percent of those attempts (34 percent is NCAA average).
▪ Three-point shooting: The Bulldogs don’t rely on outside shots for much of their offense, ranking 288th in three-point frequency. They also have made just 32 percent of their long-range tries.
3 Players to Watch
Six-foot-8 forward Yante Maten (No. 1)
Plus: Team’s go-to guy offensively; has shown good efficiency
Plus: Great finisher around rim
Plus: Strong defensive rebounder and shot-blocker
Plus: Good at getting to line and 74-percent career free-throw shooter
Minus: Turns it over occasionally
Minus: Not much of an offensive rebounder
Five-point-10 guard J.J. Frazier (No. 30)
Plus: Good three-point shooter
Plus: Draws fouls often and is 82-percent career at the line
Plus: One of team’s best passers
Minus: Doesn’t get to the rim often for shots
Minus: Decent midrange jump-shooter but settles for too many of those shots
Six-foot-8 forward Derek Ogbeide (No. 34)
Plus: Efficient player who does most of work at rim
Plus: Elite offensive rebounder
Plus: Team’s best shot-blocker
Minus: Not a good jump-shooter and has 49-percent career accuracy at free-throw line
I see a few reasons to like Georgia’s chances of keeping this close.
The Bulldogs defensively are strong in two areas that counter KU strengths: They are great getting back in transition, and they don’t put opposing teams at the line often. This should be another game, like UAB Monday night, where the Jayhawks will find the most openings on the three-point line if they choose to take those shots.
On the flip side, Georgia likes to cram it inside, which typically isn’t a great way to score against KU. In fact, opponents so far have made 40.9 percent of their twos and 40.9 percent of their threes against the Jayhawks this year. Better to shoot the shot worth one additional point if you can.
Another big factor to keep in mind should be fatigue. This has been a grueling stretch for KU (this is the team’s fourth game in eight days), and the Jayhawks’ backcourt in particular might be weary after Frank Mason, Devonté Graham and Josh Jackson each logged at least 33 minutes Monday night against UAB.
Seems like a low-scoring game might be coming. I’ll take KU for the win, though I think this is closer than Vegas anticipates.
Kansas 71, Georgia 63
Jesse’s pick to cover spread: Georgia
Hawk to Rock
Georgia’s statistical profile shows a team that is not physical (low number of fouls drawn) and also one that tends to leave shooters open in the midrange (318th in field-goal percentage against on two-point jumpers). Looks to be a great matchup for Carlton Bragg, who was held to five points against UAB on Monday.
Last game prediction: Kansas 78, UAB 66 (Actual: KU 83-63)
2016-17 record vs. spread: 2-2
Last three seasons’ record vs. spread: 43-29-2