Actually, yes, hooray. As Mark Fox's squad advanced to the finals of the CBE Hall of Fame Classic in Kansas City, their RPI gets a nice boost thanks to a neutral court win, and their strength of schedule will get a pretty good boost by taking on the 13 of the last 14 years Big 12 conference champion Jayhawks on a neutral court. So when Selection Sunday rolls around in March, these last two days will help strengthen any bubble the Bulldawgs might be sitting on.
Georgia utilized career nights from Jordan Harris, Derek Ogbeide, and Juwan Parker to help get past a pesky Colonial team after Yante Maten fouled out with JJ Frazier struggling with his shot. Expect the Dawgs to roll out the same starting five, with Turtle Jackson joining Frazier and Parker on the outside, while Maten and Ogbeide open the game inside. Freshman Jordan Harris has been carving out a bigger role for himself the last few games as well with extremely effective all around play on the wings, and should be joined off the bench by Mike Edwards, Tyree Crump, and Pape Diatta. Houston Kessler may see some time against the deep Kansas front court for foul purposes, while E'Torrion Wilridge looks to get back in to the rotation, and Kenny Paul Geno looks to recover from an illness that kept him on the bench.
Like the Dawgs, the Jayhawks come in to tonight with a 3-1 record. Of course, one of those wins was in Madison Square Garden over Duke. They also lost their season opener as we did, but in Hawai'i to a top 15 Indiana squad. Bill Self is in his 14th season with Kansas, having proven himself one of the elite coaches in the college game. His teams are generally high scoring ones, with excellent offensive weapons in the post and on the outside, and this year's 86+ points per game group so far seems no different.
They've had a consistent starting five, with three others getting the bulk of their bench minutes. Guards Frank Mason and Devonte Graham each average over 5 assists per night, with Mason adding over 20 points per game too. Potential #1 NBA pick and 6'8 freshman Josh Jackson starts at SF, while 6'10 bigs Carlton Bragg and Landen Lucas start inside. 7' freshman Udoka Azubuike backs them up, and has been a force so far defensively having snagged 24 rebounds and blocked 5 shots so far in 45 total minutes (or approximately one full game worth of work).
Joining Azubuike off the bench are guard Lagerald Vick and wing Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, though it should be noted that both Vick and Mykhailiuk have averaged more minutes on the floor so far than anyone but Graham and Mason. The junior from Ukraine is the Jayhawks best shooter from distance so far having hit 8 of 17 from 3 point range this season.
Kansas is a potential national champion, and a step above anyone the Dawgs will see all season sans Kentucky, but there are potential flaws to exploit. For such a strong offensive club, they are not effective shooters. In the small sample of just four games, they are hitting a mere 30% of 3s despite shooting near 20 per night, and only making 63% of their free throws as a team. On the other end of the floor, they are allowing opponents to hit over 40% of their deep balls and have shown a tendency to get in foul trouble. Still, this is a big, veteran team that can put a lot of points on the board and own the areas around the lane.
Georgia has lost all 3 games they've ever played against Kansas, and I don't expect the fourth time to be a charm. But then, there's a reason they still play the game...
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