Jayhawks should be able to bomb away against Chattanooga
KenPom (Ken Pomeroy) Ranking: 283
• Foul avoidance: I'll say this about Chattanooga — though it doesn't appear to be very good defensively, it isn't going to give up free points at the line. Coach John Shulman's teams have traditionally not fouled often, which includes averaging just 17.3 fouls per game a year ago despite playing at a very fast pace.
• Defensive rebounding: This has been another staple of Shulman's teams, and though the Mocs lost four starters from last year's team, they should still be solid in this area. Chattanooga grabbed 70.8 percent of the available defensive rebounds a year ago (60th nationally) and returns one of its best rebounders in 6-foot-9 forward Drazen Zlovaric. The Mocs have finished in the top 100 in defensive rebounding percentage in six of Shulman's eight seasons.
• Depth: I know this was just against Tennessee Temple — an NAIA team — but Shulman played 11 players for 10 minutes or more in his team's season-opening 88-53 victory ... something I'm not sure I've seen before in a box score. Shulman's teams typically run at a very fast pace, and it appears that the coach has enough bench players this year to substitute freely while playing his run-and-gun style.
• Three-point defense: This is the reason I'm interested to watch Thursday night's game: to see exactly what the Mocs do to guard the three, because statistically, it doesn't look like they do anything.
Last year, a whooping 48.9 percent of opponents' shots against Chattanooga were three-point attempts (NCAA average was 32.9 percent). That was the highest percentage in the country, and Shulman's teams have been in the top five in that statistic in each of his eight seasons.
Another way of looking at it: Opponents scored 41 percent of their points from three-point range last year, which again was the highest split in the country. NCAA average is just 27.5 percent.
KU should have plenty of opportunities to score from long range Thursday night.
• Blocked shots: Chattanooga was next-to-last nationally in blocked shot percentage a year ago, rejecting just 3.3 percent of opponents' two-point attempts. Zlovaric was the only player on the team to have a block percentage above 1 percent (2.7 percent). To put this in perspective, all four of KU's big men a year ago (Jeff Withey, Thomas Robinson, Justin Wesley, Kevin Young) had higher block percentages than Zlovaric, and he was by far the best Moc at blocking shots.
• Three-point shooting: Though the Mocs have traditionally jacked up a lot of threes under Shulman, they weren't successful at making them a year ago. Chattanooga made just 32 percent of its threes last season (265th nationally) and backed that up with a 2-for-22 shooting effort from three (9 percent) in the opener against Tennessee Temple.
3 Players to Watch
• Six-foot-9 senior Drazen Zlovaric (No. 20) was UTC's best shooter a year ago after transferring from Georgia. He made 55 percent of his twos last season (147 of 266) and was especially dangerous at the rim, making 71 percent of his layups (team average was 58 percent). He's also a strong defensive rebounder who limited his turnovers in 2011-12.
• Six-foot-5 forward Z. Mason (No. 30) will be relied upon more in his second season after transferring in from Ole Miss, where he played tight end for for the Runnin' Rebels for two seasons. Mason led the Mocs with 16 points (7-for-12 shooting) to go with five rebounds in 19 minutes against Tennessee Temple.
• Six-foot point guard Farad Cobb (No. 22) stood out defensively in the Mocs' opener, setting a freshman record with six steals in his first game. Cobb, who was ranked the No. 38 point guard in the class of 2012 by ESPN.com, also wasn't afraid to shoot, putting up 11 field-goal attempts in his 20 minutes. He made three of them to finish with eight points.
Combine an up-tempo pace with a team that doesn't defend well, and this could be a game filled with highlight-reel plays for the Jayhawks.
Looking at KenPom's rankings, Chattanooga will probably end up being the worst team that KU plays all season.
KU coach Bill Self should have plenty of opportunity to empty his bench to get guys more game experience.
Kansas 81, Chattanooga 49
Hawk to Rock
Sharpshooter Andrew White III should get his longest look of the season, and he'll also be playing against a team that most likely won't bother covering him on the three-point line. I'll say that White puts in three three-pointers while limiting himself to two turnovers or fewer.
2-0 record, 4 points off (2 points off/game)
Hawk to Rock
SE Missouri: Perry Ellis (2nd in KUsports.com ratings)
Michigan State: Jeff Withey (4th)
Average: 3rd in KUsports.com ratings