Thursday, March 22, 2018

Game day Breakdown: No. 1 seed KU basketball vs. No. 5 seed Clemson

The Kansas Jayhawks come in for a team huddle toward the beginning of practice on Thursday, March 22, 2018 at CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Neb.

The Kansas Jayhawks come in for a team huddle toward the beginning of practice on Thursday, March 22, 2018 at CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Neb.


No. 1 seed Kansas Jayhawks (29-7) vs. No. 5 seed Clemson Tigers (25-9)

Time: 6:07 p.m. | Location: CenturyLink Center, Omaha, Nebraska

TV: CBS | Radio: IMG Jayhawk Radio Network

Log on to for our live game blog coverage and follow the staff on Twitter: @KUSports @mctait @TomKeeganLJW @bentonasmith @nightengalejr @chasenscott & @nickkrug

Keys for Kansas

1. Force tempo

Although its offensive attack is known for featuring the guards, Clemson does not do anything it does not want to do.

That includes running.

At just under 66 possessions per game, the Tigers rank 285th in the country in tempo. KU, though not as high-octane as some Kansas teams in the past, ranks nearly 100 spots higher in tempo and, no doubt, will look to run and put pressure on the Tigers whenever possible.

While doing so, it's important for Kansas to remember to value the basketball. If Clemson is able to turn the game into more of a half-court battle, there will be fewer possessions throughout the game and each turnover then would carry added weight.

Kansas ranks 51st nationally at 11.6 turnovers per game, while Clemson ranks 78th at 11.8 per game.

2. Get the crowd into it

For the second weekend in a row, the Jayhawks figure to have a significant crowd advantage during their matchup with the Tigers.

While the butts in the seats don't change the fact that it's still a five-on-five game on the floor, the Jayhawks can — and have on plenty of occasions — use the home crowd to in their favor during portions of the game when they need a lift or are striving to put their opponent away.

Both KU coach Bill Self and Clemson coach Brad Brownell talked about the likely pro-KU contingent expected in Omaha for this one.

“I think it's an advantage,” Self said. “I'm not sure it'll be as big an advantage here as what it was (in Wichita). At Wichita, if the place seated 16 (thousand), we had 13 (thousand). It won't be like that here.”

Said Brownell: “I think that's a significant advantage,” Brownell said. “We think our league is just as good or better than any league in the country. We play great teams every week. And obviously we've had some success against those teams. So in terms of just playing in an important game, I hope that our guys are ready to play. If somehow we don't play well, I think it would be easy to say that it was the stage, but it would probably be Kansas.”

3. Defensive rebounding

Nearly a week after watching Seton Hall storm its way to 15 offensive rebounds in the second round in Wichita — nine of them coming from a single player — the Jayhawks will welcome a matchup with a team that ranks 246 spots below the Pirates in offensive rebounding.

At 282nd in the country in offensive rebounding, Clemson poses next to no threat of being the type of team that can steal extra possessions and second-chance points by getting on the glass.

But because the Jayhawks rank just 138th in the country in defensive rebounding, every team is a threat to give KU fits on the offensive glass.

A fully healthy Udoka Azubuike and locked-in Kansas backcourt should help stave off Clemson's attempts to hit the glass. Beyond that, the Tigers, who are forever aware of trying to control the pace of play, are just as likely to send players back on defense as they are to crash the offensive glass once a shot goes up.

Mega Matchup

Kansas 3-point shooting vs. Clemson 3-point defense

If there's one clear area where the Jayhawks have an advantage in this one, it's behind the 3-point line.

The Jayhawks, who demolished the KU school record for 3-pointers in a single season — with 361 and counting — enter this ranked ninth in the nation at 40 percent shooting from 3-point range for the season.

Contrast that with Clemson's 180th-ranked 3-point defense and it's clear that, if they can move the ball well and attack open spaces, the Jayhawks have a real chance at hurting the Tigers from behind the arc in this one.

“They've got four guards,” Clemson coach Brad Brownell said Thursday. “They spread you out, play with great pace, make 10 3s a game, have some unique action in their dribble drive, with a lot of cutting, to make it a little bit more difficult to guard. So we'll have to play extremely well.”

Overall, even though both teams feature their deep and talented backcourts, this matchup is a clash of styles.

Kansas is ranked as the fifth most efficient offense in the country while Clemson ranks 42nd. And Clemson's defense is ranked as the country's seventh most efficient, while the KU defense ranks 46th.

Jayhawk Pulse

It's the NCAA Tournament. From this point on, if you still have a pulse, you're doing well.

Probable Starters

No. 1 Kansas

G – Devonte’ Graham, 6-2, 185, Sr.

G – Malik Newman, 6-3, 190, Soph.

G – Svi Mykhailiuk, 6-8, 205, Sr.

G – Lagerald Vick, 6-5, 175, Jr.

C – Udoka Azubuike, 7-0, 280, Soph.

No. 5 Clemson

G – Gabe DeVoe, 6-3, 207, Sr.

G – Marcquise Reed, 6-3, 189, Jr.

G – Shelton Mitchell, 6-3, 194, Jr.

F – Amir Simms, 6-7, 237, Fr.

F – Elijah Thomas, 6-9, 237, Jr.


Dirk Medema 4 years, 8 months ago

Brownwell commented elsewhere that they didn't have to shoot crazy from 3 to get the win against Auburn when in fact 10-26 does appear to be an aberration. That's more in keeping with an average KU performance from 3.

Sounds like coach is planning to make a concerted effort to refocus a bit and make feeding the big dog more of a priority.

Marius Rowlanski 4 years, 8 months ago

I see Clemson wanting revenge for Dotson signing at Kansas. I don't see them getting it.

Dirk Medema 4 years, 8 months ago

So fun to see the Wildcats with "the easiest path to the Final Four" cough up a hair ball against little brothers from the little apple. That should keep Weber around for a while which is good for us. Now we just need the real Cinderella to keep dancing even if it is walker assisted.

Matthew Coleman 4 years, 8 months ago

"That should keep Weber around for a while, which is good for us." Lol!

Bryce Landon 4 years, 8 months ago

I wanted Kansas to beat Clemson, but now I want it worse than ever. With that d-bag Bruce Weber getting KSU into the Elite Eight, I don't want to have to listen to mouthy KSU fans talking junk all offseason about how they got further in the Tournament than we did. It'd be like 2010 all over again.

Justin Kruse 4 years, 8 months ago

And now they get an 11 seed to get to the Final Four! Gotta win tonight!

Freddie Garza 4 years, 8 months ago

The sun shines on a dog's behind some days! Obviously these types of games are what the KU program is all about, for other teams this is a historic moment. I'm OK with K State getting a small bone every now and then.

What are they gonna do, brag about "that one year 10 years ago where we did better than KU"? Whatevs.

Robert Brock 4 years, 8 months ago

K - State is probably going to make it to the Final Four. Good for them; good for the Big 12.

Marius Rowlanski 4 years, 8 months ago

Yes! Finally something I can agree with 100%.

Mike Kendall 4 years, 8 months ago

Robert: Totally agree. I have lots of K-State brothers & sisters. Happy for the Wildkitties, for sure. Coach Cal and his team not shaking hands with K-State after the game--NOT SURPRISING. I am sure some of the Kentucky players were muttering, "On to the NBA," as they were walking back to their locker room.

Brad Watson 4 years, 8 months ago

Happy for KState and both may get their wish...Weber is now he can get a good job elsewhere and KState can get a new good...maybe Frank Martin returns...or maybe LONNIE ..".the young man from Silver Lake" Max would say back in the day.

Brad Watson 4 years, 8 months ago

Loose and free with great focus and INTENSITY tonight...blinders on...bring it with a there is no tomorrow mentality......leave it all out there on the court......make your free throws...every single one...and have fun ...this is your time...your opportunity to be special...make the most of it.

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