After another layoff, the Kansas men’s basketball team is set to take on San Diego State on Sunday in Allen Fieldhouse. The Aztecs have put together a pretty good season so far. They sit at 11-0 with notable wins at Creighton and over Marquette. Their lone loss came to a very good Arizona squad at home by nine points early in the year. This will be the most challenging foe the Jayhawks have faced since they took on Florida and probably one of their top five match-ups all year. What’s more, if you look at these two teams from a statistical perspective, they are very evenly matched. That could explain why many Vegas odds-makers will be picking SDSU for the upset. Here are some things to watch for:
1. Turnover differential. Against this stout Aztec defense, the Jayhawks can not afford to squander possessions. They are averaging 13.7 giveaways per game to the Aztec’s 11.2. San Diego State is also forcing their opponents into 15.8 turnovers per game on the season while KU’s struggling defense has only forced their opponents into 11 turnovers per game. The Jayhawks need to at least keep this stat even, if not hold a slight advantage.
2. SDSU Offensive Rebounding Percentage. The Aztecs grab around 38 percent of available offensive rebounds, good for 31st in the country. Kansas, on the other hand, is only mediocre at defensive rebounding. They will have to step it up and dominate on the glass to limit SDSU’s second chances.
3. 3-point shooting. It seems like any time a mid-major threatens to beat KU, they are either a good 3-pt shooting team or some unknown bench player channels his inner Reggie Miller for one night and hits five or six of them, tripling his season total in the process, of course. In the case of SDSU, they have proven to be one of the better 3-point shooting teams this year, averaging over 41 percent from beyond the arc this year, which is good for 14th best in the county. Fortunately, they do more than launch from deep, averaging 16 attempts per game to KU’s 15. Still, a good shooting team can always get hot and start to unload, especially against a Bill Self coached team which are historically difficult to score inside on. KU will need to keep their hands up on the perimeter and make it tough for the Aztecs to get clean looks.