No. 7 Kansas looks to stay hot against North Dakota State

NCAA Basketball

Kansas has the capability of scorching opponents from the outside as long as the No. 7 Jayhawks are selective and find the right opportunities behind the arc.

That was an assessment coach Bill Self recently made from a game that normally would have counted as an exhibition, a 35-point romp over Division II Washburn.

Competition renews Saturday against D-I opponents possessing the same height and build when North Dakota State (0-3) visits Kansas (3-1) on Saturday in Lawrence.

“If in fact we’re smart enough to play to the guys who are making shots,” said Self, “and we’re smart enough to take the shots that we know (are) a 40 or 50 percent chance that we’ll make it, and know how to get those shots as opposed to trying to force them or whatnot, I think we can become a pretty good 3-point shooting team.”

Sounds like a lot of what-ifs, though Kansas made 13 of 26 attempts from 3-point range against Washburn and got 3-pointers from six players, led by Ochai Agbaji, who made 4 of 6 attempts.

Granted, the looks the Jayhawks got were not as well-contested against a smaller opponent as they will be moving forward. Nonetheless, they are shooting 41.2 percent on the season beyond the arc — a mark that gives Self something to work with and design plays to open the floor for his one big man, David McCormack.

“I do think we’ve got guys capable of making shots,” he said.

Before long, they might be making them in front of fans.

Considering 16,300 regularly pack Allen Fieldhouse, the emptiness of Thursday’s home opener seemed almost eerie. Kansas will again play before no fans on Saturday but has amended its coronavirus-related safeguards to allow 2,500 spectators beginning next week when No. 9 Creighton visits on Tuesday.

“We had some cutouts and had a couple of people in here, so that was positive,” Self said. “It’s not the same, it’s certainly different, but it was good to play and good to play in the fieldhouse and shoot on some rims that we’re a little bit more comfortable with.”

North Dakota State already dealt with Creighton, falling 69-58 on Sunday. The Bison also lost to Nevada and Nebraska. North Dakota State shared the Summit League’s regular-season title before claiming the league tournament crown and finishing 25-8 following the cancellation of the NCAA Tournament.

The Bison average just 54.3 points on 32.4 percent shooting. They are led by Tyree Eady (10 ppg) and enjoy a plus-8.3 rebounding margin, in part because Sam Griesel averages 8.7 a game.

Like all teams dealing with COVID-19 considerations, the schedule has been makeshift after an early tournament at Milwaukee was scratched.

Seventh-year coach David Richman has been aggressive in finding games, noting that tough challenges are necessary if the Bison are to contend for a fourth NCAA Tournament berth under his watch.

“We’ve got to eliminate excuses,” Richman said. “The one thing we can control is our attitude, our energy and our effort and that gives us an opportunity to get better.”

–Field Level Media

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