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Inside-out threat Brock Motum the player to watch for Washington State

Washington State senior forward Brock Motum, left, and head coach Ken Bone, right, take questions during Pac-12 NCAA college basketball media day, Thursday, Nov. 1, 2012 in San Francisco.

Washington State senior forward Brock Motum, left, and head coach Ken Bone, right, take questions during Pac-12 NCAA college basketball media day, Thursday, Nov. 1, 2012 in San Francisco. by AP Photo/Eric Risberg

Team: Washington State
Record: 2-1
KenPom (Ken Pomeroy) Ranking: 87

3 Strengths

Making shots inside: Washington State has made 58 percent of its twos so far this year (21st nationally), thanks in part to last year's Pac-12 leading scorer Brock Motum, who has made 61 percent of his inside shots (19 of 31). The Cougars also thrived in the stat a year ago, ranking 30th nationally while connecting on 52 percent of its two-pointers.

Defensive rebounding: WSU has grabbed 77.2 percent of the available defensive rebounds, which ranks 10th nationally. The Cougars completely shut Pepperdine off the boards in their last game, pulling down 29 of a possible 35 defensive rebounds (83 percent).

Foul avoidance: Through three games, WSU has allowed just 31 free throws to opponents (10.3 per game). The Cougars also have just 34 fouls, meaning — so far — they have made opposing teams earn their points through field goals.

3 Weaknesses

Three-point defense: Much like Chattanooga, Washington State has struggled with limiting teams from the three-point line. So far this year, opponents have scored 46 percent of their points against WSU from the three-point line (second-highest split nationally). The Cougars defense also has allowed the opposition to make 39.1 percent of its threes, which ranks in the bottom 75 nationally.

Forcing turnovers: As the lack of fouls might suggest, WSU is not overly aggressive defensively. The Cougars ranked 307th nationally in steal percentage a year ago and haven't been much better this year, ranking 260th in the stat. Opponents are averaging 13.7 turnovers per game through three games against the Cougars.

Offensive rebounding: WSU has been below average in this stat the last two years, as the Cougars' best offensive rebounders this year are bench players. Six-foot-5 Will DiIorio and 6-7 Junior Longrus have been the Cougars' top two guys on the offensive glass percentage-wise, but neither has played more than 12 minutes per game this season.

3 Players to Watch

• We have to start with 6-foot-3 point guard Royce Woolridge (No. 22), who will play against Kansas after transferring away from the Jayhawks two years ago because of a lack of playing time. The sophomore has been forced into big minutes and also the point-guard spot following the dismissal of three-year starter Reggie Moore in September. So far, Woolridge has performed how you'd expect a combo guard to perform playing as a point guard: He's shot it well (4-for-8 from three) while turning it over too much (giving it away on nearly one-third of the possessions he ends). Woolridge is a nice kid and has always said the right things when talking about KU, but one has to wonder just how he'll react Monday night facing the team he verbally committed to as a sophomore in high school.

• Six-foot-10 center Brock Motum (No. 12) returns for his senior year after leading his conference in scoring a year ago. The left-handed Australian is the Cougars' unquestioned go-to guy offensively, attempting 34.1 percent of his team's shots so far this year (54th-highest nationally). Motum's range extends all the way to the perimeter, as he made 39.7 percent of his threes a year ago (29 of 73) to go with 59 percent of his twos (191 of 324). Motum also was adept at drawing fouls in 2011-12, ranking 97th nationally with 5.8 fouls drawn per game. This should be a tough inside-out assignment for KU's Jeff Withey.

• Six-foot-5 Mike Ladd (No. 2) has been impressive in the early season after fully recovering from a thumb injury a year ago. The Fresno State transfer is a threat to get to the free-throw line (shooting 16 free throws compared to 18 field goals so far this year) and also has proven to be a good scorer inside (11-for-18 on two-point attempts). Ladd doesn't turn it over often, and he's also a big reason WSU has been dominant on the boards, as he's grabbed 23.4 percent of the available defensive rebounds when he's been in (156th nationally).

Prediction

The last two seasons, WSU coach Ken Bone has elected for an extreme, slow-it-down style, with his team ranking in the 300s in tempo both years. Playing against an athletic team like Kansas, I wouldn't be surprised if Bone tried to slow it down even more, hoping for a low-possession, half-court game against a KU team that has struggled manufacturing offense in the early season.

Much like the Chattanooga game, this one could hinge quite a bit on how well KU shoots from three. WSU will play some zone, and the Cougars most likely will try to pack it in and force the Jayhawks to make open threes over the top.

Defensively, if the Jayhawks are "turned up" as KU coach Bill Self likes to call it, they should be able to force turnovers against a Cougars team that is short on ball-handlers. Woolridge is playing a team-high 31.3 minutes per game, and he's not a true point guard, showing exactly how desperate Bone has been to leave his best ball-handlers in the game.

Though the game is in Sprint Center, where KU hasn't always performed its best, I think the Jayhawks will pull away with their defense, getting some easy baskets in transition while making at least a few of the open threes they see.

Kansas 69, Washington State 54

Hawk to Rock

This has the potential to change over the course of the season, but so far, Ben McLemore has been far and away KU's best offensive player. I'll say his hot streak continues against Washington State, with the freshman continuing to stay aggressive on a KU team that needs him to take control.

Predictions tally
3-0 record, 22 points off (7.3 points off/game)

Hawk to Rock
SE Missouri: Perry Ellis (2nd in KUsports.com ratings)
Michigan State: Jeff Withey (4th)
Chattanooga: Andrew White III (10th)
Average: 5.3rd in KUsports.com ratings

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Comments

Sam Burns 1 year, 5 months ago

Oops, it was actually Wishawk that had the answer that helped me, lol. Thanks again

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Sam Burns 1 year, 5 months ago

Ralster, thanks, you had the answer that worked for me. I didn't explain very well if you guys thought I was just talking about min. and max.ing the windows, lol. HighElite, I'm not sure, I guess I could be, lol. Thanks all for the help and the laughs.

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Alohahawk 1 year, 5 months ago

I just hope the Jayhawks don't settle for 3 pointers all night. Seems like whenever they shoot 10 or more in the first half, they struggle. Against Chattanugga (sp), it seemed like whenever Chat. shot a 3, the Jayhawks had to come down court and do the same. And I got tired of yelling "UGGHHH!!!" after each three miss. Drive the d*** lane, EJ, BMc., TR, Etc. Force some fouls and get to the line. Then again, with the Jayhawk's attrocious freethrow percentage, best to make the 2, and get an 'and one'.

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lhohman3 1 year, 5 months ago

Nadir in headlights. Free AW3.

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KGphoto 1 year, 5 months ago

Okay I can't take Mac twice in a row.

It's tempting to take Withey because he should be ready to go from the tip against a guy who's getting some pre-game press. It's the matchup of the night and I feel like Withey could be pumped. Also, Motum didn't play too well in his last game away from home against Pepperdine. But...

HTR: Elijah Johnson. He lit up TAM in the first game of the Big 12 Championship in the Sprint Center last year. Against a soft 3pt defense he might just light it up again.

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Ralster Jayhawk 1 year, 5 months ago

Maybe Woolridge will hit 6-for-8 treys against our defense. KU guys wont be able to sit for 2 days after getting butts chewed by SelfMan...

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iamakufan 1 year, 5 months ago

I agree Royce Woolridge seems to be a nice young man. I wish him well in his career, except I hope he doesn't play too well tonight. :)

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Geezer 1 year, 5 months ago

If you are running Internet Explorer, there is a button at the top of the explorer next to the red X. Looks like a rectangle. click that.

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Sam Burns 1 year, 5 months ago

I couldn't find a better place to go and ask this question so I'll ask it here. I'm an old guy and not a techie. All I want to do is enlarge my display to the full width of my laptop screen. Right now I'm looking at the center 2/3 of the screen. Can someone help me please?

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clevelandjayhawker 1 year, 5 months ago

I would mark BMac in as the HTR for the rest of the year. I liked it last year when Keegan would take the easy pick (trob or Tyshawn) and Jesse would take a chance on someone else for unobivous reasons.

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