What to Watch: Kansas vs. UCLA

It's not every day one of college basketball's most historic programs visits the hallowed grounds of Allen Fieldhouse, and despite recent struggles the UCLA Bruins remain one of the game's elite. Phog.net is here with a few storylines Kansas fans might want to keep an eye on tonight.

* The Kansas bigs have a chance to go nuclear.

UCLA power forward Reeves Nelson is a stone-cold killer offensively. The 6-foot-8 sophomore is averaging 17 points and 10 rebounds in a young 2010 season, scoring in virtually every way imaginable for a big man. He's strong, he's versatile and he's a reasonably high-level athlete.

He also makes the matadors of Barcelona blush with his defense.

In the Morrii and Thomas Robinson, the Jayhawks have – essentially – three perfect foils to Nelson. It would be difficult to find a more versatile post duo in the country than Marcus and Markieff Morris, and Robinson seems to be improving daily. His athleticism and energy off the bench have been infectious through the first six games of the season.

All three had big tournaments in Las Vegas, and the Bruins have really struggled defensively this season – particularly on the interior. If the Kansas bigs can avoid the foul trouble they experienced against Derrick Williams of Arizona – a player to whom Jayhawks head coach Bill Self says Nelson bears many similarities – the table could be set for a feeding frenzy down low.

* Can Travis Releford continue his Brandon Rush impersonation?

Travis Releford knew the area of his game that needed the most work last season was his shot. The coaches knew it. The fans knew it. It's possible sherpas in Nepal knew it.

So when Media Day rolled around prior to the season and Self said the area in which Releford was most improved was his jumpshot, fans sat up and took notice.

The 6-foot-5 Kansas City product is a tantalizing package on the perimeter. Solidly built with long arms and high-level athleticism, Releford came to Kansas with a reputation as a scorer and defender – not a shooter.

But Kansas fans are accustomed to bombers on the wing of their offense. Brandon Rush splashed three-pointers for three seasons in Lawrence, and Xavier Henry took up the mantle last season. A big, athletic three-point shooting wing player is something not many Division One teams can boast, even among the ranks of the sport's bluebloods.

Through the season's first six games, Releford is shooting a startling 50-percent from three-point land, canning 8 of 16 attempts. It's still early, and nobody can keep up that type of clip throughout the entire season, but if he can settle in around the 35-40-percent range while taking a small handful of attempts a game, Releford will have become a dangerous deep-threat in his own right.

On a team without a plethora of obvious outside shooters, his emergence would be a welcome surprise. Releford was 5-for-9 in two games in Las Vegas. Let's see what he has in store tonight.

* One of the top 2011 recruits in the country is slated to be in attendance.

Uncommitted prospects in the Class of 2011 are few and far between these days, particularly when looks at only the Top 25. Ben McLemore is perhaps the most well-known target remaining for Kansas fans, but DeAndre Daniels is a name they may want to remember as well.

A 6-foot-8 swing man from IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., Daniels is a one-time Texas commit who decided to open things up a couple of months back. Now, the Jayhawks are one of a host of programs recruiting him, including Texas, Florida, UCLA and many more.

Daniels is expected to be in attendance tonight, as part of his official visit to the University of Kansas.


Phog.net Top Stories