Game 6: No. 4 Kansas vs. BYU – Preview and Prediction

After rolling Chaminade in the quarterfinal round, No. 4 Kansas heads into semifinal Friday in Maui to face a scrappy BYU Cougars team. Following Michigan State’s upset loss against Virginia Tech yesterday, Kansas is an overwhelming favorite to win the tournament. BYU was locked into a close battle with UCLA until firing off a 14-2 run to blow the contest open. The Cougars do a handful of things that could present trouble for the Jayhawks, though, so fans should be weary.

  • Tuesday, November 26, 2019, 9:30 pm CDT
  • Lahaina Civic Center — Maui, Hawaii
  • ESPN or ESPN App
  • Kansas is participating in its seventh Maui Jim Maui Invitational and has a combined record of 16-6 in the event. The Jayhawks are 3-0 mark in campus round games and have a 13-6 record in Maui.
  • Kansas has won two Maui Invitationals – 1996 and 2015.
  • Kansas has won its last five in-season tournaments with the 2015 Maui Invitational included in the run. The streak consists of the 2014 Old Spice Classic, the 2015 Maui Invitational, the 2016 CBE Classic, the 2017 HoopHall Miami Invitational and the 2018 NIT Season Tip Off.
  • Kansas hasn’t played BYU since the second round of the 1993 NCAA tournament. All time, they are 3-1 against the Cougars.
  • Kansas is 3-0 in Allen Fieldhouse this season and has a 24-game home court winning streak, which is third longest nationally behind Tennessee (28) and Gonzaga (25).
  • Kansas is ranked No. 4 in the Nov. 18 Associated Press national poll. KU has been ranked in the top-five 339 times overall and 133 times in the Bill Self era.
  • KU has been ranked in each of the last 203 AP polls dating back to 2008- 09. The 203-consecutive weeks in the polls is the longest active streak in the nation. KU holds the same streak in the coaches’ poll at 211.

Cougars to Watch

Jake Toolson – Senior, Guard, 6’5″
Toolson put in 20 points against UCLA and leads the team with nearly 17 points per game this season. He’s a high-volume, accurate three-point shooter with a 46% mark thus far. Toolson is the point guard, meaning he’ll likely be locked into a duel with Devon Dotson for the evening.

T.J. Haws – Senior, Guard, 6’4″
Haws took over down the stretch of BYU’s win on Thursday, scoring 15 points, with most of them coming in the second half. He’s off to a very slow three-point shooting start (21%) after posting a 40% three-point mark in each of the last two seasons. He thrives on getting to the rim. Marcus Garrett is likely to draw the assignment.

Prediction

This is an excellent early-season test for Kansas. They’re significantly faster, stronger, and more athletic than BYU. The Cougars already have two losses this year – San Diego State and Boise State – so their resume shouldn’t fear Jayhawk fans much. However, this is a team that shoots the ball very well and consistently from three. All five of their starters are threats to jump out and knock down perimeter shots, meaning they could force Bill Self’s hand early by making him shy away from the two-big lineup that he’s been running.

Defensively, BYU shut down UCLA down the stretch of their win on Thursday, but they won’t have much of an answer for Udoka Azubuike inside. The three Kansas bigs should have their way by the basket, as long as they’re primarily playing one at a time. I expect Kansas to make enough threes to win, but until this team guards the perimeter well against a competent opponent, I’m hesitant to pick them to cover a double-digit spread.

Kansas 78, BYU 70
BYU +11

AUDIO PREVIEW: LINK (go to 60:00 mark of podcast)

Season Record: 4-1 (2-3 ATS)

Bobby Norell

My name is Bobby Norell. I'm from a small town in northern Indiana. I recently graduated from Indiana University with a degree in Sport Communication. Even though my diploma says I'm a Hoosier, my love for the Jayhawks has never wavered. They'll always come No.1.