The Kansas Jayhawks take their second trip to the lone star state to play an under performing Texas team that has yet to get back onto the “bubble”. KU has failed to score more than 61 points in their last two games and if Ben McLemore isn't truly 100%, then Kansas could be in for another low scoring affair.
The good news is that if you think Kansas has been having scoring problems, you haven't seen Texas. Texas is averaging just 64 PPG and has scored more than 79 points only once all season. Texas has been put on the ropes by Fresno State in their season opener, they lost to Chaminade in Hawaii, they have had to play without Myck Kabongo and they currently sit winless in the Big 12. Texas will be hosting Kansas on Saturday so they have that going for them, but based on what we know today, there won't be anything special happening for the Longhorns on Saturday.
When: Saturday, January 19, 2:00 PM ET
Where: Franklin Erwin Special Events Center, Austin, TX
No Injuries to Report
Of the many things wrong with the Longhorns, the backcourt provides a reasonable upside for Texas. Texas guard play accounts for the majority of the Longhorn scoring led by G Sheldon McClellan (14.3 PPG-4.4 RPG), G Julien Lewis (11.8 PPG-3.2 RPG) and G Javan Felix (9.4 PPG-6.3 APG).
As previously stated, the Longhorns have failed to register more than 79 points on more than one occasion and scores only 64.1 PPG, 6 points lower than the Big 12 average of 70 PPG. Texas ranks 9th in the Big 12 in FG% at 40, and they only shoot 43% from inside the arc point range. Texas is even more ghastly from three point range, hitting only 30% on the season.
No Injuries to Report
Strength: Effective Scoring
While the Texas Longhorns may not be great at scoring, KU on the other hand is, though recently is hasn't seemed that way Kansas leads the Big 12 in FG% at 49% and is 2nd in PPG with 76.8. The Jayhawks have conducted most of their offense in the paint thus far, hitting with 57% accuracy inside, while hitting 54% from 2 point range and an overall effective FG% of 54%.
Weakness: Dependency on McLemore*
While it remains to be seen how KU plays without Ben McLemore being 100%, it is reasonable to assume KU could struggle offensively. In KU's only two games with McLemore scoring less than 10 points, KU won both with ease, VS Southeast Missouri State and American University. Of course, Texas is better than SEMO and American U, plus being on the road could hamper KU's offensive production so we may see C Jeff withey (13.1 PPG-8.2 RPG) or G Travis Releford (13 PPG-3.4 RPG) have to step up.
Trending Up: Depth
The Depth for KU may be young, but they are talented. I haven't been all that impressed with F Perry Ellis (5.3 PPG-3.8 RPG) this year, but others think Ellis has been a great addition to the bench and after his performance against Baylor (scoring 6 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 blocks) I am willing to level and say I wouldn't cringe to see him start in the case of an injury to Kevin Young. G Naadir Tharpe (5.1 PPG-2.6 APG) has been one of the most improved players still on the bench and could make an argument for more time than he is getting.
Trending Down: Three Point Shooting
The Jayhawks haven't been on fire from beyond the arc this year, hitting 37%, but lately Kansas is looking like their going back to early season numbers. In the Jayhawks last four games, Kansas has been hitting only 33%. The low percentage isn't whats hurting the Jayhawks so much as the distribution of other shots. Kansas has taken 57 of their last 219 shots from outside. That may be only 26%, but when they are hitting about a third of those shots, you can start to see why Kansas has been struggling to put points on the board.
The last time Kansas played Texas in Austin, the Jayhawks were nearly upset by the Longhorns and traditionally this game has been pretty competitive. This year, on the other hand, may provide Kansas with a much easier win than in past games. The Jayhawks staunch defense, 34% FG%, against the struggling Texas offense should be enough to notch a win for Kansas. Of course that was the attitude going into last season's game and that was anything but an easy win. The Jayhawks should be planning for the worst, but at the same time it would be easy to look past this one a little bit and prepare for a much tougher test in their next game on the road at Kansas State. Hopefully Kansas keeps a one game at a time approach and handles the Longhorns the way they are capable of.