NC State is seeking a statement against Kansas earlier in the season ” Kansas

Kevin Keatts has brought his team back to Atlantis as he once again hopes to complete the quests that will allow him to become the island’s god-king. He must remember that to reach the Throne Room he must fight his way through the Goblin Cave and then TURN LEFT at the giant-but-friendly-but-deadly spider after progressing through the Hall of Antiquities. Last time he made a right turn at the spider, then fell into a booby trap and died.

Excuse me, what was this about again? Ah yes. Basketball. Kansas. NC state. A big test, but one without negative consequences for the wolf pack. A gravy game the day before Thanksgiving? Well, don’t mind if we do!

The Jayhawks through four games.

KU in ’23 Adaptation OE/DE (rk) eFG% TO% OR% 2FG% 3FG%
KU in ’23 Adaptation OE/DE (rk) eFG% TO% OR% 2FG% 3FG%
offense 111.4 (27) 54.0 (65) 15.9 (66) 31.8 (110) 55.8 (54) 32.9 (183)
defense 88.4 (7) 42.2 (35) 19.7 (149) 29.8 (209) 44.8 (79) 25.5 (34)

Kansas are off to a 4-0 start that includes a win on the neutral side over Duke, and the Jayhawks should once again prove themselves as national title contenders despite losing several key players from last season.

The main reason for that is forward Jalen Wilson (6’8, 225) catching one of the best starts in the country. Wilson averages 24.5 points per game, as well as 9.3 boards and 4.3 assists. He was a tremendous part of the KU offense, attempting nearly 37% of the team’s shots while on the court. In his last two games alone, he’s caught 37 two-point balls.

He’s a really difficult matchup from within the arc, he was an excellent passer while making few mistakes and has shown improved touch from beyond the arc. Tough guy to slow down, but NC State needs to find a way.

Kansas also got excellent play from freshman Grady Dick (6’8, 205), who is 10-20 from threes and also shoots over 58% in twos. He’s only gotten to the free-throw line five times, so getting the ball on the edge wasn’t a big part of his game.

The inability to reach the free throw line was a team-wide issue, and when you factor in the fact that KU is only 350th in free throw shooting percentage, you have a team that takes very little offense from the streak. The lack of free-throw attempts comes despite the fact that KU is near the low end of DI in three-point attempt rate; The Jayhawks take twos more often than most, but don’t find a way to make much contact in the process.

They’re a terrific passing team, so perhaps the ball movement translates into much cleaner looks in color than an average team. Or they earn their living in midfield. Whatever the case, it’s been working well for them so far.

And that looks like an elite defense team, thanks to their ability to affect shots (fifth in block rate) without fouling. The Jayhawks’ defensive rebound could be better, but as long as they’re forcing misses like they are, it won’t hurt too much.

I wanted to give a quick shout out to big newcomer Zuby Ejiofor (6’9, 240). He’s logged just 25 minutes this season, but in that tenure he has 17 rebounds and five blocks. This guy will eventually be a problem.

Kansas has fielded the same starting five in every game: Wilson and Dick, as well as Dajuan Harris (6’1, 175), Kevin McCullar (6’6, 210) and KJ Adams (6’7, 225). The last three were excellent defensively; Adams leads the team in block rate. Their shooting glitch was a collective effort, with even Harris having five rejections to start with.

These three are more of an offensive support player, as all three shot attempts come at a below-average rate. Wilson and Dick are the drivers of it all. If NC State’s offense comes up and it can force either of these two to have a bad day, the pack might have a shot at some crunch-time excitement.

KenPom likes the Jayhawks at nine.

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