January 15, 2007

Breakdown: KU vs. MU

After defeating the Iowa State Cyclones in overtime on Saturday, the No. 6 ranked Kansas Jayhawks (15-2; 2-) return to Allen Fieldhouse for a Big Monday Showdown with the Missouri Tigers (11-5; 0-3)

KU remains undefeated in Big 12 play and is looking to extend its winning streak to 10 games. Sophomore Brandon Rush leads the way for the Jayhawks, as he is currently averaging 13.5-points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game.

Jayhawk Slant has broken-down the game into head-to-head matchups between the starters, bench, and the intangibles. Check out the scoop on Big 12 game between No. 6 Kansas and Missouri.

No. 6 Kansas Jayhawks
Missouri Tigers

Sasha Kaun

Leo Lyons

PPG: 6.6 RPG: 3.8 BPG: 1.4

During his last two games for the Kansas Jayhawks, Sasha Kaun has been an absolute force in the paint area. Against Oklahoma State and Iowa State, both KU wins, Kaun averaged 14.5-points per game, and in the process, has taken his game to another level. He has given the Hawks a legitimate low post scoring threat, which is exactly what this team needs. Aside from a couple of silly fouls, Kaun has been solid for the Jayhawks. Look for that trend to continue on Monday night.

PPG: 7.1 RPG: 4.8 BPG: 0.7

There is no question that it could end up being a long night for Leo Lyons on both ends of the court. He hasn't faced a player like Kaun so far this year, and could struggle for much of the game. Lyons does have the ability to put some points on the board, but look for his main focus to be on the defensive end of the court. He will be called upon to contain Kaun and company in the frontcourt. On Monday night, any additional scoring that Lyons can provide the Tigers would certainly be welcomed.
Julian Wright

Matt Lawrence

PPG: 11.4 RPG: 8.1 APG: 1.9

Julian Wright clearly wasn't himself during KU's win over Iowa State on Saturday afternoon. The talented sophomore was sick and just wasn't as productive as he'd been in the past. During his time in Lawrence, Wright has established himself as a true playmaker on both ends of the court. When he's at his very best, Wright is getting others involved in the game, blocking shots and scoring in transition. Assuming he is feeling better, look for Wright to have a big game against the Tigers. He doesn't necessarily need to light up the scoreboard, but Wright needs to take advantage of easy scoring opportunities, and will need to make plays when the balls in his hands.

PPG: 11.8 RPG: 3.6 BPG: 0.0

Matt Lawrence is having a fine season for the Missouri Tigers. He is the team's second leading scorer, and has the ability to hurt teams from the inside and outside. If MU has any hopes of coming into Allen Fieldhouse and stealing one on the road, Lawrence will have to be at his very best. So far this year, he has connected on 52.5 percent of his field goals and 50.6 percent of his shots from behind the arc Lawrence will also have to do his part on the defensive end of the court. It doesn't matter if he's guarding Wright or another player, Lawrence will have to make some plays that lead to easy points for the Tigers.
Brandon Rush

Marshall Brown

PPG: 13.5 RPG: 5.6 ASP 1.9

Big Mondays showdown against the Missouri Tigers is the type of game that Brandon Rush absolutely loves, which is good news for KU fans. The Co Big 12 Player of the Year and Preseason First Team All-American and struggled off and on this year, but it appears that Rush is finally coming around for Self's squad. The key for the talented sophomore is getting involved early in the game. Throughout the course of the year, Rush has been a non-factor for the first 20 minutes of action, but exploded in the second half. There is no question that he needs to be productive on the offensive end of the court, but his effort on defense will be just as important. Rush must be aggressive on offense and create havoc on defense. He needs to be at his very best on Monday.

PPG: 11.0 RPG: 3.7 APG: 1.6

It should come as no surprise that the Tigers will lean heavily on Marshall Brown on Monday night. He is one of the few players on this squad that has the talent and ability to keep MU in the game until the very end, so they'll need a breakout performance from Brown. He is an athletic player that has the ability and talent to hurt the Jayhawks from the outside, or he can score off the bounce. Additionally, Brown will have to lockdown Rush on the defensive end of the court. He had a scoring high of 28-points earlier in the year, so there is no question that Brown has the ability to put points on the board, which is exactly what the Tigers will need against the Jayhawks. It doesn't matter if he scores from the inside or takes his game to the perimeter, MU just needs a big game from Brown.
Mario Chalmers

Stefhon Hannah

PPG: 12.3 RPG: 2.8 APG: 3.6

Much like Brandon Rush, Mario Chalmers needs to bring his "A" game on Monday night. When presented with open looks from beyond the arc, Chalmers needs connect. If his shot isn't falling, he needs to attack the basket or pull up for the midrange jump shot. Chalmers has a knack for creating a lot of steals, which leads to easy baskets, which will be critical against the Tigers. He'll have his hands full trying to contain Stefhon Hannah, who is MU's leading scorer. The key for Chalmers is to come out, set the tone early and be aggressive on both ends of the court. This isn't the most talented MU team that the Hawks have seen, but they still need to be prepared for a battle.

PPG: 15.4 RPG: 3.1 APG: 4.8

Along with Marshall Brown, Stefhon Hannah is the Tigers most productive scorer. He has connected on 44.8 percent of his field goals and 39.2 percent of his shots from behind the arc. Hannah is the type of player, because of his talent and athletic ability that has the potential to give KU fits on Monday night. He will need to be at his very best against the Jayhawks, especially on the offensive end of the court, but Hannah will also be called upon to contain Chalmers and company. Lighting up the scoreboard alone wont get it done against KU. Hannah and the MU will need to come up with some key stops on defense. He and Brown will need to be at their very best if MU hopes to keep this game close.
Russell Robinson

Jason Horton

PPG: 6.1 RPG: 3.1 APG: 4.5

Russell Robinson doesn't need to score the ball in order for Self's squad to be successful. That's not the type of player he is for KU. However, he does need to be a force on the defensive end of the court. Additionally, Robinson must look to get his teammates involved in the game. Playing defense, creating turnovers and running the offensive is what the Jayhawks need from Robinson. If he is presented with some easy scoring opportunities against Missouri, then he needs to take advantage of those, but looking to score isn't what he needs to focus on. There is no question that Robinson has a chance to turn things around when the Tigers come to town, and KU will need that from him.

PPG: 4.9 RPG: 3.9 APG: 3.5

Jason Horton will look to be playmaker for the Tigers when they travel to Allen Fieldhouse for Big Monday. Much like Robinson, Horton isn't much of a scorer, but that doesn't mean he isn't important to Missouri. Playing solid defense, getting others involved in the game and creating turnovers will be the biggest key for Horton. Any points he does score against KU is just an extra bonus for Missouri. He has connected on 40.6 percent of his shots from behind the arc, so Horton can score from the outside, but his biggest contribution will likely come on the defensive end of the court, and getting others involved in the game. KU has done an outstanding job of creating a lot of steals this year, so there is no question that Horton will need to take care of the basketball.
Kansas bench

Missouri Bench

Sherron Collins, Darrell Arthur and Darnell Jackson have been outstanding performers coming off the bench for Kansas, especially against OSU and ISU. Collins, a freshman from Chicago, has been sensational running the offense, scoring from the outside and attacking the basket. When Arthur's at his very best, he is very tough to defend in the low post area. He has a nice hook shot and an even nicer up-and-under move. Jackson, a junior from Oklahoma, has been solid for KU in their two Big 12 wins. He is a fierce warrior on defense and loves to mix it up on that end of the court. If Collins, Arthur and Jackson continue to perform at such a high level, the Jayhawks will be extremely tough to beat.

Big man Kalen Grimes is MU's most productive player coming off the bench. He is currently averaging 8.1-points and 6.0 rebounds per game. Keon Lawrence is right behind Grimes in terms of production, as he is averaging 7.4-points and 2.1 rebounds per game. However, don't look for the bench to play much of a role on Monday night. If the Tigers and going to make a serious run at the Jayhawks, Brown and Hannah will have to be at their very best. Grimes has the size to cause some problems for the Hawks, but don't look for him to be much of a factor, if any, on offense. Lawrence has connected on 32.6 percent of his shots from behind the arc, but he's attempted just 15 three-pointers.
Kansas's intangibles

Missouri intangibles

The outcome of Mondays Big 12 Showdown between the No. 6 ranked Kansas Jayhawks and Missouri Tigers has the potential to get very ugly. Self's squad is just too talented and too athletic. Playing inside Allen Fieldhouse is an extremely difficult task, but the crowd will be especially rowdy with the Tigers in town. The Hawks are one of three teams currently undefeated in Big 12 play, so there is no question they'll be ready to play. If KU plays like they did against Oklahoma State last week, Missouri is in for a long night.

Mike Anderson's team is going to have to play a perfect game in order to walk out of Allen Fieldhouse with the "W". They'll have to play lights-out defense, score on just about every possession and create a lot of turnovers. This is Anderson's first year at MU, so there are going to be some ups and downs along the way. Brown and Hannah will have to have career nights and the ball will certainly have to bounce MU's way. If Brown and Hannah are unable to get things going on offense, it going to be a long night for Missouri.

Final Score: KU 85, MU 70

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