Kansas matches up with Utah at Sprint Center

Written by Jazmine Polk (@ibeez_jaypee) 

“We’re going to Kansas City…Kansas City here we come”

The No.10 Kansas Jayhawks host the No. 13 Utah Utes this Saturday at 2:15 p.m. in the annual Kansas City Shootout at the Sprint Center. The road trip gives KU nation the illusion of heading to an away game; however the Sprint Center is like a second home to the Jayhawks. KU is 24-5 in the arena and very used to winning hardware in Kansas City.

A look at KU receipts in the Sprint Center

  • 2007-2008 Big 12 Championship title
  • 2009-2010 Big 12 Championship title
  • 2010-2011 Big 12 Championship title
  • 2012-2013 CBE Classic title, Big 12 Championship title, NCAA First/Second round wins

The Jayhawks and the Utes are catching each other at a great time, as they are both on a six game winning streak. Kansas (7-1) is coming off a 75-70 road win against Georgetown and Utah (7-1) is coming off a 65-61 win over BYU. Utah is 1-1 against top 25 ranked teams, beating Wichita State in OT and losing to San Diego State by 4. Kansas is also 1-1 against top 25 teams with a win over Florida and a bad loss to No. 1 Kentucky. The only time KU and Utah have met was in 1995 in The Classic at the Kemper Arena where the Jayhawks won 79-68.

Players to Watch

Kansas:

Brannen Greene, Sophomore, Shooting Guard

Greene is coming off the game of his career, leading the team with 19 points off the bench against Georgetown. Greene was 5-for-5 from three and 4-for-4 from the free throw line. He now leads the team in three-pointers with 12 for the season.

 This was the kind of performance we’ve been waiting for from Greene and although it will be hard to shoot almost 100% every game, we now expect him to be aggressive with his shot.

Perry Ellis, Junior, Forward

Earning his third double-double of the season last game against Georgetown, Ellis leads KU averaging 14.4 points per game and 7 rebounds. Ellis is “the man”…enough said.

Utah

Delon Wright, Senior, Guard

Wright leads Utah in scoring (15 ppg), assists (39) and steals (14).  He is shooting 75 percent overall and 47 percent from three. Wright is second on the team in rebounding with an average of 5.5 per game. The senior guard has also been seen in many 2015 NBA mock drafts.

Jakob Poeltl, Freshman, Forward

This 7-foot-freshman is the one to stop. Poeltl averages 12 points and leads the team in rebounds with 9 a game. He also leads the Utes in blocks averaging 3 a game.

What to watch for

  • Traylor’s return
    • Junior forward Jamari Traylor is expected to be back after his one-game suspension from the Georgetown game for being arrested last weekend for interfering with an officer. Traylor is second on the team in blocks and is usually one of the first off the bench, but it will be interesting to see what his absence does to his playing time.
  • Oubre’s arrival
    • Freshman guard Kelly Oubre had the best performance of his brief career last game against Georgetown scoring 7 points, 5 rebounds and 2 steals in 16 minutes. Oubre has shown flashes of playing like the 11th ranked player coming out of high school, but we still have yet to see him get loose. Was Georgetown a preview of what’s to come?
  • Defense wins games
    • One of the keys to winning this game will be if Kansas can slow down Utah’s offense. The Utes are averaging 80.6 points per game. KU does not want to get behind early.
  • Spot battle
    • It seems like Self has Brannen Greene and freshman guard Svi Mykhailiuk in a minutes battle for whoever is playing the best that game. Who will it be against Utah?

Game Prediction: Kansas 72 Utah 65

A Look Ahead

Kansas will take a short break for final exams but will be back in action on December 20th against Lafayette at 2 p.m. in the Fieldhouse.