With conference play looming less than three weeks away, Kansas faces another stern test. This time the Jayhawks welcome Boston College, who is already 1-0 in ACC play having disposed of Maryland back on December 10th.
The Eagles, picked to finish third in the ACC this season, endured back-to-back early season slip ups against Vermont at home and Providence on the road. Since then Al Skinner’s team has ripped off six straight wins. BC is looking for another marquee win and beating a ranked Kansas team in Phog Allen Fieldhouse would certainly go a long way to providing a feather-in-the-cap that the selection committee would love come March.
The result of this one should give Kansas head coach Bill Self a pretty accurate gauge on his team’s progression. It’s a chance to go toe-to-toe with a tough ACC opponent. It will be interesting to see how the Jayhawks match the Eagles intensity. Skinner’s team, known for their rough-and-rugged style, runs several variations of the flex and can be a beast on the boards. Heading into Big 12 play this sounds like the perfect game for Self’s team.
"(We're playing) against an opponent who can play a lot of different styles, they can play fast or they can grind it out. They can press or they can switch defenses, so I think this is going to be a great test for us. I think their whole team is pretty underrated," said Self of the 7-2 Eagles.
BC’s senior swingman, Jared Dudley is averaging over 19 points a game and is usually the player who sparks this Eagle squad emotionally, and offensively.
"I think he's a tough guy to defend for a lot of reasons, primarily because of his height,” said Self of the 6-7 swingman. “His height and his strength enables him to post you. He's probably the best post player that we've played against this year. (Oral Roberts') Caleb Green was a great post player and of course Florida had a couple of guys who weren't bad. But really, he is a true post player who is a three-man (small forward) and he's shooting 42 percent from three right now."
Dudley probably can’t be stopped by any one player but Self did say that Brandon Rush would spend some time guarding the experienced senior. Part of doing the job on Dudley requires keeping him off the glass where he also averages over nine rebounds a game.
Kansas will also have to contend with the inside presence of 6-10 Sean Williams. He averages over five blocks a game and is one of four BC starters to average in double-figures (11.9 ppg).
"He's a great shot blocker. I think he's averaging about six per game. But he's long, he's got great balance and he's great at blocking the guys he's not guarding's shots. He'll block his own man's shots some, but I'd say a majority of his blocks come from rotation and helping. If you go to the hole on him, you have to go strong. That's how you should play everyday,” Self said during his weekly press conference.
Where the Eagles can be exposed is in the turnover department. Sophomore Tyrese Rice runs the show for Skinner but he has a tendency to be a bit loose with the ball, and at times he struggles with his shot selection. It will be interesting to see how he responds to the pressure applied by Mario Chalmers and Russell Robinson.
A couple of other notes of interest heading into this nationally televised matchup -- The Eagles are a perfect 7-0 this season when leading at the half and they’re a spotless 5-0 when outrebounding their opponent.