Quick scout: Siena should be great matchup for one KU freshman

Kansas guard Josh Jackson tried to drive past Duke guard Matt Jones during Tuesday’s game. | Julie Jacobson | The Associated Press

By Jesse Newell jnewell@kcstar.com

Before every KU men’s basketball game, The Star’s Jesse Newell previews the Jayhawks’ upcoming opponent with a scouting report and prediction.

Tuesday’s game: Siena at No. 7 Kansas, 7 p.m. at Allen Fieldhouse

Opponent record: 1-1

KenPom (Ken Pomeroy) Ranking: 80

Point spread: KU by 22 12.

All statistics from KenPom.com and Hoop-Math.com. KenPom stats also only include Division I competition.

3 Strengths

▪ Ball security (maybe): Siena ranks fourth nationally in the early season in turnover percentage while giving it away on just 10 percent of its possessions. Hard to know how real that is considering the Saints ranked 345th in the same stat last season.

▪ Offensive rebounding: Siena has finished in the top 25 in offensive rebounding percentage in each of the last three seasons under coach Jimmy Patsos.

▪ Rim protection: Led by 6-foot-10 center Javion Ogunyemi, Siena is a good shot-blocking team, ranking 69th in block percentage this year after finishing 58th in the stat last season.

3 Weaknesses

▪ Allowing close shots: Through two games, 46 percent of opponents’ shots against Siena have come at the rim, a number that ranks 324th nationally.

▪ Defensive rebounding: Siena historically has been a good offensive rebounding team but a bad defensive rebounding team under Patsos. The Saints are 302nd in defensive rebounding percentage this year and finished 300th or worse in two of the last three seasons.

▪ Finishing inside: Siena doesn’t get blocked often, but it still has struggled to score at the basket, making just 57 percent of its shots at the rim this season (242nd nationally). The Saints were also below NCAA average in this area a year ago.

3 Players to Watch

Six-foot-1 guard Marquis Wright (No. 1)

Plus: Team’s go-to guy offensively who has excellent efficiency

Plus: Great with ball security; has no turnovers

Plus: Strong three-point shooter the last two seasons

Plus: Team’s best passer

Minus: Well-below-average shooter at the rim

Six-foot-10 forward Javion Ogunyemi (No. 0)

Plus: Team’s best scoring threat inside

Plus: Versatile player who can make mid-range jumpers

Plus: Good shot-blocker

Plus: Crashes offensive glass well

Minus: Not a good three-point shooter in tiny sample (0-for-3 this year, 7-for-26 in career)

Minus: Can struggle to hold his own on defensive glass

Six-foot-5 guard Nico Clareth (No. 15)

Plus: Was above-average shooter at rim and in mid-range last year

Plus: Doesn’t turn it over often

Minus: Has struggled to get to rim this season (1 of 32 shots)

Minus: Just a 32-percent career three-point shooter

Prediction

Siena is better than its name might suggest.

A No. 80 KenPom rating is pretty good (that’s better than teams like Ole Miss, Washington and Memphis), and the Saints’ biggest strength is an offense that is on the cusp of top-50 status.

The problem for Siena is the other end. The team allows too many shots at the basket and also has been poor at getting back in transition — a weakness that is often exposed fully when opponents enter Allen Fieldhouse.

This line still seems a touch high to me. KU is coming off a long road trip and didn’t have much time to recover, so I wouldn’t be surprised if fatigue plays a factor.

While I don’t think this game will be competitive at the end, I do believe Siena’s offense is good enough to make the final score respectable.

Kansas 93, Siena 74

Jesse’s pick to cover spread: Siena

Hawk to Rock

Josh Jackson should have plenty of opportunities for highlight-reel plays against a Siena team that gives up lots of transition opportunities. Look for the freshman to take advantage with dunks, assists, and at least one play on SportsCenter’s Top 10.

Last game prediction: Duke 84, Kansas 78 (Actual: KU 77-75)

2016-17 record vs. spread: 1-1

2015-16 record vs. spread: 19-15-1

Last three seasons’ record vs. spread: 42-28-2

Jesse Newell: 816-234-4759, @jessenewell


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