Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Gameday Breakdown, Sweet 16: KU vs. Purdue

The Jayhawks celebrate a half-court shot by teammate Devonte' Graham during a day of practices and press conferences prior to Thursday's game at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.

The Jayhawks celebrate a half-court shot by teammate Devonte' Graham during a day of practices and press conferences prior to Thursday's game at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.


No. 1 seed Kansas Jayhawks (30-4) vs. No. 4 seed Purdue Boilermakers (27-7)

Time: approximately 8:39 p.m. | Location: Sprint Center, Kansas City, Mo.

TV: CBS | Radio: IMG Jayhawk Radio Network

Log on to for our live game blog coverage of KU’s Sweet 16 showdown with Purdue and follow the staff on Twitter: @KUSports @mctait @TomKeeganLJW @bentonasmith & @nightengalejr

Tale of the Tait: KU-Purdue by the numbers

Keys for Kansas

1. Win the battle behind the arc

Purdue led the Big Ten in 3-point shooting, knocking down 40 percent of its shots from behind the arc this season. Five or six different Boilermakers are comfortable from 3-point range, including big man Caleb Swanigan, who shot 43 percent from 3-point range.

If Kansas worries too much about the paint and lets those Purdue shooters roam free, it could be a long night for the Jayhawks, if the Boilermakers are hitting.

One way to combat that is communication. The KU defense has to be talkative on the perimeter and ready to challenge shots from start to finish. KU’s length, especially from 6-foot-8 guards Svi Mykhailiuk and Josh Jackson, along with 6-5 reserve Lagerald Vick, certainly could prove challenging for Purdue’s shooters.

One other way Kansas can win the 3-point battle is by out-shooting Purdue. It’s not as if the Jayhawks are allergic to the 3-point shot themselves. Both teams like to get up a lot of 3-pointers (both average nine makes in 22 attempts per game) and both are shooting right around 40 percent for the season.

“The 3-point line is huge,” said KU freshman Josh Jackson. “We’ve got some pretty good shooters and so do they. I think the thing we gotta do is turn their shooters into drivers and run them off the 3-point line a little bit.... We’re definitely not trying to out-shoot 'em. We’re not trying to turn this into a horse contest.”

2. Turn up the pressure and pace

If there’s one area where the Boilermakers have struggled, it’s been taking care of the ball.

Purdue turns it over an average of just 13 times per game, but can quickly get out of control when the pace of the game gets away from players. To that end, the Boilermakers figure to slow the tempo, pound it inside and make Kansas adjust to their game.

That strategy will make it all the more important for Kansas to pressure the ball, jump into passing lanes and find ways to force the game to become a track meet as often as possible.

“We want to come out and play the best defense we can play,” Jackson said. “We just really want to play good while making them play bad.... The biggest thing is rebounding. They’ve got some big guys and we need to make sure we secure the rebound and get guys running in transition. We want to make it a fast-paced game.”

For the season, the Jayhawks forced 13.4 turnovers per game, but have found opportune times throughout the NCAA Tournament to use a steal or deflection to turn up the pace and spark a KU run.

3. Play to the crowd

There’s no question that Kansas will have the home-court advantage in this game and the Jayhawks need to make sure they do everything in their power to keep the crowd loud and into the game.

Making shots helps, but ripping off runs is the biggest way to do that, as the pro-KU crowd seems to swell with every change of possession and ensuing Kansas basket.

“You guys saw it in Tulsa,” Jackson said of how much having the crowd on your side can help. “There were tons of Kansas fans there, and there’s gonna be even more here. That’s always a plus.”

Jackson, who is averaging 20 points per game so far in the tournament, said the Jayhawks believe the offensive part of exciting the crowd will come. Stacking those moments on top of one another will be the key.

“I think we all would agree that we can score with any team in the country,” Jackson said. “The thing is, can we guard and stop them from scoring? I’ve seen times where we’ve scored nine points in a minute, and I don’t see too many other teams that can do that. So we’ve just gotta guard.”

Mega Matchup

Purdue sophomore Caleb Swanigan vs. KU senior Landen Lucas

It’s far from the only matchup that matters, but it is the one that everybody will be watching, at least initially. Lucas lives for these types of challenges and Swanigan lives to fill up the stat sheet. Whichever one gets the upper hand in this head-to-head battle will go a long way toward helping his team win this game.

But this clash will not just be a matter of Lucas standing tall while Swanigan collides with him on his way to the hoop. The Jayhawks figure to send different looks Swanigan’s way, from double-teams and help from the guards to other players taking a turn on him one-on-one. But Kansas coach Bill Self said Lucas will be on him “quite a bit of the time.”

Both players are good athletes and move well away from the rim, on offense as screeners and passers, and on defense as helpers against ball screens. And both players do several little things to help make the game easier for their teammates on both ends of the floor.

Because Purdue has more size and depth in the front court, the Jayhawks absolutely need Lucas to play smart and stay out of foul trouble. A bonus for Kansas would be if that intelligence — derived from his status as a fifth-year senior — helps Lucas draw a couple of quick fouls on Swanigan, which, obviously, would play to KU’s advantage in a big way.

Probable Starters

No. 1 seed Kansas

G – Frank Mason III, 5-11, 190, Sr.

G – Devonte’ Graham, 6-2, 185, Jr.

G – Josh Jackson, 6-8, 207, Fr.

G – Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, 6-8, 205, Jr.

F – Landen Lucas, 6-10, 250, Sr.

No. 4 seed Purdue

G – Dakota Mathias, 6-4, 200, Jr.

G – Ryan Cline, 6-5, 190, Soph.

G – P.J. Thompson, 5-10, 185, Jr.

F – Vincent Edwards, 6-8, 225, Jr.

F – Caleb Swanigan, 6-9, 250, Soph.

More news and notes previewing Kansas vs. Purdue


Marius Rowlanski 5 years, 3 months ago

I'm just going to come out and say it.

Our 4 guard offense is going to have Purdue/Perdue running around like a chicken with its head cut off.

We will sail through this game by 15+

Joe Ross 5 years, 3 months ago

This game features a pair of teams from conferences that dont know how to count. The Big 12 actually has far fewer teams than the Big 10. But let's not punk the brand of basketball in their conference. It features schools like Wisconsin, Maryland, Michigan, Michigan State and others. The Boilermakers dominated in their league. While on the subject of conferences, at the conclusion of the game tomorrow night, either Kansas will have beaten a pair of Big 10 foes in consecutive games or Purdue will have done the same to the Big 12. Conference pride, Elite 8 appearance, personal careers on the line tomorrow night.

We need to take this team seriously. They are REALLY good! Purdue just beat the team that laid wood on us on our home floor.

Please dont put any bad ju-ju on us by dismissing this team.

Marius Rowlanski 5 years, 3 months ago

How did that juju go? Kansas dominated the best team from the Big Ten. Kansas took them seriously and then dismantled them piece by piece.

Severeno Woods 5 years, 3 months ago

What people seem to miss out on too is the little things Svi has done recently on the defensive end. I have seen a huge improvement in his play on the defensive rebounding, blocking shots, and covering his man. I am excited about the game. Vick, Svi, and Colbey will be huge this game.

Mike Greer 5 years, 3 months ago

Every time I read about how good Purdue is inside and outside and really nothing about any weekness, I wonder why KU is the 1 seed and Purdue the 4. I'm not really buying the week B1G that was being pedeled for most of the season. Michigan has played well their two tournament games, as has Purdue. Yet there must be a weakness for Kansas to exploit. Whatever that weakness may be, I hope our guys can find it and exploit it.

Joe Ross 5 years, 3 months ago

Seeds mean nothing. You cant have faith in seeding to keep you safe. Ask Villanova.

Mike Greer 5 years, 3 months ago

Joe I get that, what I'm asking is what's their weakness, what does KU exploit to beat them? I've yet to read anything about their weakness, yet plenty about KU's shallow front court and how difficult Purdue is to guard. Just wondering what this team has to do to win this one.

Matt Tait 5 years, 3 months ago

Rebound and run. If KU does that, they should be fine.

Both teams will make and miss shots. Both teams will score inside and commit fouls. Both teams will need contributions from their bench. And both teams will be prepared and very well coached.

When that's the case, and it's strengths against strengths, it's up to the team with more talent to impose its will. Kansas is that team and the Jayhawks will look to run every chance they get. I think it'll be a slugfest for a while, with the two teams staying within four or five points of each other for the first 25-30 minutes. After that, though, I think KU's style prevails and the Jayhawks run to victory.

We shall see.

Marius Rowlanski 5 years, 3 months ago

Exactly what I was thinking except I thought we might start pulling away sometime in the first half. This isn't a game that Purdue wants to get behind in as the crowd will be solidly behind Kansas.

Maybe we both get this wrong and it turns out to be a game decided in the final minutes, Kansas has proven that it can win in these situations and again, the crowd might be just what is needed to get us a W.

Marius Rowlanski 5 years, 3 months ago

Seeds mean nothing?

1 seeds have made the Final Four 52 times. That’s more than the combined Final Four showings of Nos. 4-16 since seeding began (48).

1 seeds are 3.6 times more likely to win the championship than the next-best seed

Odds of a #1 seed winning a tournament are: 57.93%

2 seed: 15.93%

3 seed 13.68%

4 seed 3.32%

And using Villanova as your 'proof' is completely nonsensical. You cannot go from the specific and apply it to the whole. Anecdotes cannot be a basis for generalization

Just when I thought we were finding common ground.

Joe Ross 5 years, 3 months ago

Non-cause as cause.

The seed didn't keep them safe. How they played is why they advanced. While it is true that higher seeded teams are generally more talented, generally better coached, and generally play better together, there is certainly nothing magical in the seed number itself. If the things don't translate to the court that made them a number 1 seed in the first place, a NUMBER will not provide a win. Andrew Wiggins scored 4 points vs. Stanford. I think we were a 2 or 3 that year. So then what was Stanford? Again, despite your seed, you HAVE to play the game. It's the play on the court, NOT THE SEED, that produces a win or a loss.

As far as the common ground thing, I have NEVER logged onto this site thinking "I've got to agree with this person". The expectation of being of a like mind on issues as the basis to a respectful rapport with others is what is non-sensical. Respect should itself be the common ground. NOT what your perspective happens to be.

Marius Rowlanski 5 years, 3 months ago

Nonsense as common sense.

You stated, "seeds mean nothing". Did I misread that? Because if I didn't then you are wrong. That seeds mean something can be PROVEN statistically. What seed has won the most NCAA titles? Since there are four #1 seeds in every tournament then clearly, at least 3 (75%) of them are going to lose. Obviously, being a #1 seed doesn't mean you are going to win the championship. Stop being obtuse.

Is that the point your trying to make. That being a #1 seed doesn't give you magical protection? That the top seeds aren't sprinkled with fairy dust?

What a great point!

Here's a couple you might want to save for the future:

"You have to shoot or you won't score!" or "The team with the most points will win!".


In case you don't remember KU seeds since 2008, this will help you:

2009 #3 2010 #1 2011 #1 2012 #2 2013 #1 2014 #2 2015 #2 2016 #1

Finally, when I said "just when I thought we were finding common ground", I only meant that as a good-natured jab. I have a great idea for where you can shove your diatribe on respect and the rest of that pedantic BS.

Ben Kane 5 years, 3 months ago

in the long run, higher seeds play lower teams therefore win more and have an easier path to the final four. doesn't apply to any one game though.

Marius Rowlanski 5 years, 3 months ago

Ben, of course it doesn't but even as you point out, the higher seeds play the lower seeds. That alone is proof that seeds do mean something.

If seeds meant nothing then we should just draw names randomly to fill out the brackets.

Robin Smith 5 years, 3 months ago

Purdue will have to play small with Swanigan at the center because otherwise they get torched. Swanigan is slow and fouls. He got burned by Deonte Burton repeatedly, so if he were charged with matching up with Jackson at the power forward spot then it would be difficult for him (Bragg, Coleby, and Lightfoot too).

Consequently, there will be an epic battle with Lucas who is an elite offensive rebounder. With Swanigan in the post, he's likely to gather fouls, especially with Mason driving in. Also Swanigan will need to be cautious about hoisting threes because there's a strong likelihood of Kansas run-outs. Kansas is just very hard to match up with, but just about anyone.

Dale Stringer 5 years, 3 months ago

The only reason the B1G was considered weak is because it was the victim(scapegoat) of the ESPN-ACC/Duke hype machine. If Duke would have won our game, I get the Big 12 would been picked to be the weak conference this year.

Marius Rowlanski 5 years, 3 months ago

Their nonconference schedule didn't help them much either.

Joe Ross 5 years, 3 months ago

Dateline March 23

Kansas plays close to home. Has a big-name superstar on its team with a respectable supporting cast. Playing a school hungry for respect. One of our big recruits is sidelined with an injury, so we'll rely on a veteran to shore up the post.

And we will lose!

No. Im not talking about Kansas v. Purdue. On this very date three years ago, Kansas lost to the Stanford Cardinal. We played in St. Louis with Andrew Wiggins and a sidelined Joel Embiid. We lamented after the game that Joel was not there to help us in the post. Fifth year senior Landen Lucas mirrors the same position held by Tarik Black.

Same date.

Let's pray to the Ghost of Phog for a different result.

Mike Greer 5 years, 3 months ago

I think part of that difference Joe is Landen has been the starter the past two years and Tarik was always coming off the bench. The other difference, is that was a very young team with a superstar that wasn't very consistent, this years team has a lot more experience and this years superstar has been very consistent after the first few games and has continued to improve. Wiggins all but disappeared that game if I remember correctly, I don't anticipate Jackson will have that kind of a night.

Bryce Landon 5 years, 3 months ago

The other issue there is that we have had way more time to adjust to the loss of Udoka than the 2013-14 team adjusting to the loss of Joel.

Marius Rowlanski 5 years, 3 months ago

Maybe. Coleby was also unable to even participate in practice while he sat out his first year after transferring. Udoka did get to play a couple of games but since then, he has been relegated to the bench and hasn't even participated in practice.

What I hope is that Udoka will still play 2 full years at Kansas. He is still a very young player and in the short glimpse we had, he has what it takes to dominate inside the paint.

Chad Smith 5 years, 3 months ago

We can theorize all we want about strengths and weaknesses. Luckily fans dont play the games, players do. And in my mind, i dont think KU is underestimating PURDUE at all. I trust frank mason and lucas have our team focused, along with coach self. We know whats at stake and we know we have a home court advantage. IF we play the way we are capable of, we can win this game. Lets cheer our hearts out and stay positive! Rock Chalk!

Ben Kane 5 years, 3 months ago

have any of you seen frank mason's eye's recently. do you want to doubt him? rockchalk!

Commenting has been disabled for this item.