Kansas Jayhawks vs. Wichita St. Shockers Pick & Prediction DECEMBER 30th 2023

College basketball bragging rights within the state of Kansas are at stake as Wichita State and No. 2 Kansas square off Saturday afternoon, with the game actually outside of the state of Kansas.

The venue is the T-Mobile Center in Kansas City, Mo., where Wichita State will be playing for the second straight game, after losing 69-60 to Kansas State Dec. 21.

Even though the two campuses are just 165 miles apart, the two programs have only played 15 times. Kansas leads the all-time series, 12-3, dating back to 1908, though it’s tied 2-2 on neutral courts. Wichita State won the most recent meeting in the second round of the 2015 NCAA Tournament, when the seventh-seeded Shockers upset the No. 2 seed Jayhawks 78-65.

This is the first meeting during the regular season since 1993.

Kansas (11-1) will be looking to extend a seven-game winning streak after knocking off a pesky Yale squad 75-60 on Dec. 22, pulling away late to make the margin more convincing than the game action.

“We didn’t play well early,” Kansas coach Bill Self said after the game. “The last 24 minutes I thought we were pretty good.”

Kevin McCullar Jr. led the Jayhawks with a career-high 34 points against the Bulldogs.

The Jayhawks continue to be led by their front line.

Hunter Dickinson is second in the nation in rebounds per game at 12.5. With 18.3 points per game, he is the only player in the Big 12 averaging a double-double. His seven double-doubles lead the league and are seventh nationally.

McCullar leads the nation in triple-doubles with two, which he accomplished in back-to-back games, becoming just the seventh player in NCAA history to record consecutive triple-doubles. McCullar’s 20.4 points per game lead the Big 12 and rank 16th nationally.

KJ Adams Jr. is second in the Big 12 in field goal percentage at 62.4 percent, which stands 21st nationally.

The Kansas backcourt is not bad, either. The Jayhawks are second in the nation in assists per game at 21.4, led by Dajuan Harris Jr.’s 6.8 per game, which is eighth nationally.

Wichita State (8-4) has lost its past seven games at neutral sites when facing a top 25 team. They’ll have to control the boards, so it’s a good thing the Shockers are the only team in the country that has three players averaging 6.9 or more rebounds per game (Kenny Pohto, 8.0; Dalen Ridgnal, 6.9; and Quincy Ballard 6.9).

Through the first 12 games of the season, Wichita State has been among the nation’s top rebounding teams. Wichita State ranks 10th nationally in rebounds per game, 11th in defensive rebounds per game and 30th in rebound margin. Against the Wildcats, the Shockers were outrebounded 37-33. They also trailed 18-0 in free-throw attempts in the first half. That troubled head coach Paul Mills, but he also saw the positive side of that.

“They had 18 free throws to our zero and we’re only down four, so I didn’t think there was anything to be discouraged about,” Mills said. “I thought our guys handled it well. We thought there would be a difference in the second half, but it didn’t translate like we had hoped.”

–Field Level Media

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