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Kansas vs. Texas: Previewing The Longhorns

Kansas vs. Texas tips this afternoon on CBS.  Kansas sits 18-0 and 3-0 in league play.  Texas stands at 15-3 with a 3-0 Big 12 record.  Today one team will gain a slight edge over the other in the race for the Big 12 conference crown.

For Kansas it's been a run of six straight, some of those shared with Texas themselves.  Texas on the other hand is looking to rebound.  A year ago they were believed to be a contender before falling off a cliff late in the year. 

Today the setting is Allen Fieldhouse where Rick Barnes and the Longhorns have never won a game.  #11 vs. #2 and it should be a good one.


AP Poll
SOS Projected

The Players

Texas is led by a sophomore stud in 6'7" forward Jordan Hamilton.  Hamilton hails from Los Angeles California and is as versatile as they come.  Minus an inch or two he might remind you a lot of Marcus Morris.  Hamilton currently leads the Longhorns in scoring averaging 19.7 per game while adding 7.1 rebounds which places him tied for second in that particular category.  What makes Hamilton particularly difficult is his ability to score from anywhere on the floor.  His 43% three point shooting percentage is further legitimized when you realize he's done that while converting on a team high 50 attempts.  Consider this one of the big matchups in today's contest for Kansas.

The second player on that list would be true freshman forward Tristan Thompson.  Thompson is 6'8" and well built at 225+ pounds.  He currently averages 13.1 points per game while leading the team in rebounds at 7.7.  Since the start of league play Thompson's scoring average has picked up and on the year who shoots a respectable 54% from the field.  Thompson is the presence underneath and on the defensive end where he leads the Longhorns in both blocked shots and steals for the season.

Rounding out the Longhorn frontline is a familiar face in 6'6" senior forward Gary Johnson.  Johnson averages 12.1 points and 7.1 rebounds on the year and he is the prototypical Texas wing/forward that brings exceptional athleticism to the floor.  In all reality Johnson is probably closer to a traditional four based on his playing style and with a 240 pound frame he has the size to bang underneath when he has to. 

The Longhorn backcourt consists of true freshman guard Cory Joseph and a player that Jayhawk fans should remember in Dogus Balbay.  Joseph leads the team in assists at 3.2 per contest while also adding 11.2 points per contest.  He averages 42% from beyond the arc and is the Longhorns other primary threat from deep.

For his part Balbay is considered the defensive stopper.  His offensive production is minimal but he brings a defensive element to the Longhorn backcourt.

Coming off the bench for Texas are a couple of familiar names in the backcourt.  J'Covan Brown had a nice game against the Jayhawks a year ago and averages 9.1 points off the bench for the Longhorns.  Jai Lucas is next in line and realistically Lucas, Balbay and Brown play a pretty similar amount of time on any given day. 

Underneath the Longhorn bench consists of 6'11" senior forward Matt Hill and 6'7" Cameroon native Alexis Wangmene.  Hill is another familiar name from the game a year ago as he was a nagging contributor against the Hawks. 

All in all the team goes nine deep.  They have great top end talent, great size and athleticism.  It's a team that as a Jayhawk fan you have to appreciate at least a little.


Trending Longhorns

The Longhorns have been a very good team this year but in perhaps a fortunate sense they haven't developed off the chart expectations like they did a year ago.  Texas has big name wins over Texas A&M, Illinois, Michigan State and to a lesser extent North Carolina.  The Longhorns have also battled hard in some tough losses to nationally ranked Pitt and Connecticut.

The one loss that is a bit of a head scratcher is the 17 point beatdown at the hands of USC, but since that time the Longhorns have been VERY good.

Since their December 18th win on the road against North Carolina the Longhorns have a margin of victory in the double digits and that includes some solid teams.  

All in all the Longhorns are very good offensively, borderline great on the defensive end and they are going to make you earn every basket.  In short, there are no easy two's in this one.  On paper there just isn't much separating these two teams and after Wednesday's game in College Station the Longhorns are definitely playing some solid basketball at the moment.


Offensive Averages:

25th / 4th
79th / 6th
5th / 1st
FG Pct
77th / 7th

Defensive Averages:

33rd / 4th
3rd / 6th
174th / 1st
FG Pct
4th / 7th


Prediction Time 

Kansas walked into Baylor and laid a beatdown on the Bears.  The Jayhawks looked as good at times as they have all year and probably played the most complete game.  Baylor's bigs are just as talented as Texas, but they seem to lack the discipline and that might narrow that gap significantly.

For Texas' part they also had a great game this week and that was at home against rival Texas A&M.  The Longhorns jumped out early and never looked back holding the Aggies to just 61 points on the night. 

Two teams, two great seasons in the making and both are coming off of VERY impressive performances.  So what gives?  Something has to.  Kansas has the homecourt and they've sometimes looked sluggish, but with at team of Texas' caliber coming to town there is no excuse for low energy in this one.

With the home crowd behind them this is a game that Kansas has a slight edge.  But it's no gimme and Texas can easily come out and set a tone early leading this game into a dogfight. 

Texas TEX 78.2 46.0 65.2 37.6 41.8 14.1 27.7 14.5 12.1 6.3 4.9 16.7
Kansas KU 83.2 52.4 66.9 37.3 39.7 11.6 28.1 18.5 14.2 9.1 4.9 17.5
Texas TEX Opponents 61.3 37.1 68.6 28.8 34.5 12.3 22.2 8.2 14.1 4.9 2.7 21.4
Kansas KU Opponents 61.1 37.6 67.6 25.9 31.8 11.8 20.0 10.7 16.5 6.2 2.3 19.8