In Purdue, Kansas faces familiar challenge

OMAHA, Neb. – The Kansas Jayhawks may experience a bit of well-earned deja vu during their preparations for Sunday's showdown with Purdue. Physically, the Boilermakers resemble foes such as Iowa State and Missouri, with smaller lineups and hot-shooting guards. But the Jayhawks say they're ready, and know the match-up issues go both ways.

In preparing for Sunday's Round of 32 showdown with Purdue, the Kansas Jayhawks may experience a little deja vu.

The Boilermakers feature an unconventional lineup physically, led by a versatile big man and a group of talented, athletic guards - all of whom can shoot the three. Sound familiar?

It should, because at least two teams Kansas has faced this season - Missouri and Iowa State - fit that same bill.

"They remind me a lot of Iowa State more than Missouri, just because Robbie Hummel can kind of take it out and he leads the team just like Royce White," said Jayhawks center Jeff Withey.

The big 7-footer has a point. Hummel is a multi-talented 6-foot-8, 215-pound power forward who prefers to spend most of his time on the offensive end making use of his outstanding three-point shooting ability. In fact, the senior has 179 attempts from beyond the arc this season, hitting at a 37.4-percent clip. For comparison's sake, the most prolific shooter on the Kansas roster - guard Elijah Johnson - let fly with 178.

So Hummel is indeed a gunner, which is sort of a theme with the entire Purdue squad. A significant portion of their scoring comes from made three-point buckets, as three players - including Hummel - have more than 140 attempts to their name. Both Ryne Smith and D.J. Byrd shoot better than 43-percent from long range. As a team, the Boilermakers rank 18th nationally with 276 made three-point field goals, and 43rd in team three-point percentage at 37.6-percent.

It's a big part of their offense, and without a true post player in the rotation - aside from reserve center Sandi Marcius - it provides some interesting match-up difficulties for the Jayhawks.

It's a challenge for Withey in particular, who may draw the assignment of guarding Hummel - at least initially.

"I think it will be a challenge for me, just because guarding out on the perimeter I'm not really used to that," he said. "But definitely I'm going to try taking the challenge and doing my best with it. We've seen teams like this before so I think that will help, definitely."

The match-up difficulties are a knife that cuts both ways though, noted Jayhawks junior wing Travis Releford. If Kansas has to find a way to deal with Hummel and Purdue's smaller lineup, so too do the Boilermakers have to find a way to handle the Jayhawks' size advantage.

In fact, Purdue has struggled this season defending quality big men, and Kansas has a pair of them - including arguably the best in the nation.

Though they lost Friday's match-up, the St. Mary's Gaels were still able to find success in the post thanks in large part to burly 6-foot-6 forward Rob Jones. A player capable of going inside and out, Jones scored 23 points and pulled down 14 boards, and the Boilermakers were never really able to find an answer for him.

Robinson knows getting him rolling early is the key.

"No matter who we play I think that's a key, for me to try to get going against whomever I'm playing," he explained. "So I'm just going to try and come out and do the same thing I've been doing."

Tip-off is scheduled for approximately 7:40 p.m. Sunday. The game will be broadcast nationally on TNT. Top Stories