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NCAA preview: How Kansas and Kentucky match up

A look at the Jayhawks (32-6) and the Wildcats (37-2) before Monday's NCAA championship game in New Orleans (6:15 p.m. PDT, Channel 2):

April 01, 2012
  • Kansas center Jeff Withey, guarded by Ohio State forward William Buford on Saturday night in the NCAA semifinals, could be a difference-maker in the title game on Monday night.
Kansas center Jeff Withey, guarded by Ohio State forward William Buford… (Harry E. Walker / McClatchy-Tribune )

Kansas starters

Pos., Player, Ht., Wt., Stats

G Elijah Johnson, 6-4, 195, 10.1 ppg

G Tyshawn Taylor, 6-3, 185, 16.5 ppg

C Jeff Withey, 7-0, 235, 6.3 rpg

G Travis Releford, 6-6, 210, 8.6 ppg

F Thomas Robinson, 6-10, 237, 17.7 ppg

Kansas reserves

G Conner Teahan, 6-6, 212, 5.6 ppg

F Kevin Young, 6-8, 195, 3.5 ppg

Kentucky starters

Pos., Player, Ht., Wt., Stats

G Doron Lamb, 6-4, 210, 13.5 ppg

G Marquis Teague, 6-2, 189, 9.9 ppg

C Anthony Davis, 6-10, 220, 14.4 ppg

F Terrence Jones, 6-9, 252, 12.4 ppg

F Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, 6-7, 232, 7.5 rpg

Kentucky reserves

G Darius Miller, 6-8, 235, 10.1 ppg

F Kyle Wiltjer, 6-9, 239, 5.1 ppg

SCOUTING REPORT: Don't expect either team to milk the shot clock on each possession. Look for a high-scoring, free-wheeling game featuring two of the top teams in the field. Kentucky averages 77.6 points per game to Kansas' 73.9. Kentucky's advantage is also having the No.1-ranked defense, limiting opponents to 34.7% shooting. The game features, arguably, the best and second-best players in the field in Kentucky center Anthony Davis and Kansas' Thomas Robinson. Kentucky tends to overwhelm opponents with its speed and transition game, and Kansas has a bad habit of pulling out wins after falling behind. The Jayhawks trailed Ohio State by 13 points five different times Saturday before rallying to win. Falling behind Kentucky by double digits is not recommended. Kansas Coach Bill Self says his team has reached the final without playing a great game in the tournament. Kansas needs to be near-perfect if it expects to cut down the nets.

KEY TO THE GAME: Kansas has to hope Davis misses curfew and is benched for the first half (fat chance) or that he gets in foul trouble as he did in Kentucky's December loss at Indiana. Kansas' 7-foot center, Jeff Withey, must change the dynamic of the game with his shot-blocking and not allow Kentucky free passage in the paint. Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor must find his outside shooting touch — he is 0 for 20 from three-point range in the tournament — and avoid the kind of late-game brain cramps that almost cost Kansas a semifinal win over Ohio State.

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