The CBE Classic at the Sprint Center features KU, UAB, Georgia, and George Washington. KU will take on UAB on Monday night at 8:30 PM, following the matchup of Georgia-George Washington. Both the Jayhawks and the Blazers are 2-1 heading into this matchup.
UAB is no stranger to Big 12 opponents, as they upset Iowa State in the NCAA Tournament just two years ago.
Junior forward Chris Cokley leads the team in both points and rebounds through three games. The 6’8 Cokley could cause some matchup problems for KU. Senior guard Dirk Williams leads UAB in minutes so far, and he is the Blazers’ most dangerous three-point shooter. The Blazers are averaging 78 points per game.
For Kansas, senior guard Frank Mason carried the Jayhawks late in games against Indiana and Duke. Mason leads the Jayhawks with 23 points per game, and has played 110 of a possible 120 minutes through three games. His partner in the backcourt, junior Devonte’ Graham, is second on the team with 14 points per game.
Rebounding will be something to monitor, as KU has struggled to pull down the ball consistently.
Foul trouble and lack of depth down low have forced Bill Self to utilize the small ball lineup quite frequently in the first three games. Landen Lucas has had trouble at time this season, particularly with Indiana’s Thomas Bryant and Duke’s Amile Jefferson.
Luckily for the Jayhawks, UAB does not have very much size on their roster. Even when KU decides to go small, they should maintain a considerable size advantage over UAB.
Keys to the game:
Foul Trouble- The Jayhawks have had problems with foul trouble in the first three games. Playing clean defense on the Blazers will be critical for KU in the game.
Points in the paint- The KU bigs should be able to feast on the much smaller forwards of UAB inside. Sophomore forward Carlton Bragg and freshman Udoka Azuibuke will have opportunities to establish themselves down low.
Three-point shooting- KU is shooting 23% from the three-point line this season. UAB can potentially take advantage of the Jayhawks’ shooting woes, if KU cannot break out of their early season funk. The Blazers have shot 35% from beyond the arc, and KU is allowing opponents to shoot 47% from three-point-land.
Free throw shooting- Another area where the Jayhawks have underperformed this season has been at the free throw line, posting a 67.5% clip. The Blazers have done much better, as they’ve shot 80% from the charity stripe.
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Feature photo courtesy of Heath Cajandig.