Tonight, the Jayhawks will play a No. 1 team for the fourth time in the Bill Self. Self is 2-1 against teams ranked No. 1 in the country. The Kentucky Wildcats are loaded and are coming off a season where they were picked to win it all, struggled during the year and got it together in March. They eventually lost to UConn in the national championship game but they picked up a bunch of experience along the way.
While they’re missing Julius Randle and James Young from last year’s team, they’re still full of talent. They’ve got nine McDonald’s All-Americans, four of which are newcomers. They’re returning the Harrison twins, Marcus Lee, Dakari Johnson, Alex Poythress and Willie-Caulie Stein from last year and they added Tyler Ullis, Karl Towns Jr, Trey Lyles and Devin Booker.
What To Watch For
Point Guard Play – Can Frank Mason and Devonte’ Graham handle everything Kentucky throws at them? This will be the most athletically gifted team Kansas will play this season. If Mason and Graham can continue to defend like they have in their first three games (two exhibition, one real game), this will be key. KU’s length will pay off big time against a team like Kentucky.
Who To Watch For
- Cliff Alexander — Cliff Alexander lives for games like this. The big man should get significant minutes tonight despite not playing that much in the first regular season game. Cliff strives off of great competition and Kentucky has a plethora of outstanding players. I expect him to rise to that competition and get a double-double tonight.
- Perry Ellis — While Perry Ellis may not be the vocal leader this team needs, he leads by example. Ellis played great last year in the Champions Classic and he should put up a double-double tonight. If Ellis and Alexander get double-doubles, the Jayhawks will have good a chance at winning this game.
- Tyler Ullis — Tyler Ullis is 5-for-7 from beyond the arc this year. Kansas has done a good job defending the perimeter so far so it’ll be interesting to see how Ullis attacks it. If he can knock down a couple early three-pointers, KU may be in big trouble.
- Willie Cauley-Stein — Cauley-Stein heils from Olathe, Kansas so it’ll be fun to see him go against his home state school. Cauley-Stein can disrupt the Jayhawks in the paint so depending on who he’s guarding (Ellis, Alexander, Lucas, etc.), look to see Kansas try to attack him early and possibly get him into foul trouble.
I posted this on Twitter but figured I’d write it on here as well. I think Kansas comes out flat and Kentucky gets a big lead early. In the second half, Kansas will make a come back and cut it close within a minute to go. In the end, Kansas will prevail by one or two field goals on the back of Perry Ellis.
What do you think? Vote below!