The Kansas Jayhawks look to keep their momentum going against a weaker than usual Texas team, a team that Kansas has already beaten once this year. Kansas put themselves back into 1st place with their 83-62 win over rival Kansas State. In a game that saw the Jayhawks dominate on the glass and shoot fire from beyond the three point line, Kansas was too much for the Wildcats.
Texas on the other hand is coming off their 3rd Big 12 win in a double overtime thriller against Iowa State. Both teams could benefit from strong performances, as highly touted recruit Julius Randle will be making his official visit to Kansas. Randle is also considering Texas. Kansas should be fired up for this one as the University and the program will be getting a lot of publicity during ESPN's College Gameday, now they just need to make sure they are more focused on Texas than Digger Phelps or Jalen Rose.
When: Saturday, February 16, 9:00 PM ET
Where: Allen Fieldhouse, Lawrence, KS
No injuries to report.
Strength: PG Myck Kabongo
The Texas Longhorns have had their fair share of point guard problems similar to those experienced by Kansas. The only difference is, Texas now has a resolution to that problem. Myck Kabongo (13 PPG-4 RPG) played in his first game of the season against Iowa State, and it probably wasn't a coincidence that the Longhorns got the win. o Kabongo’s 13 points and 7 assists we a big part of that and now that Texas has a reliable point guard, the offense looks to have a much better flow. That means that Saturday the Longhorns may be just a little bit closer to kicking off a miraculous post season run. Although it's more likely that Kabongo is coming in a little too late.
The 89-point explosion by Texas was a poor representation of the Texas offense and barely resembled what the Longhorns looked like on the offensive side of the ball throughout the rest of the season. Before the Longhorns game with Iowa State, only two players, G Sheldon McClellon (14.5 PPG-4.3 RPG) and G Julien Lewis (11.1 PPG-3.5 RPG), averaged over 10 PPG on the Longhorns’ roster. Texas ranks 9th in the Big 12 in overall PPG, with 64.5, and is 8th in FG%, with a .456 mark. Texas isn’t successful from beyond the arc either, hitting only 28%.
No Injuries to Report
Strength: Interior Offense
Kansas exhibited some of their best offensive efficiency all season against Kansas State. Kansas hit close to 55% inside the paint and missed only 4 of 14 layups against the Wildcats. Kansas has been dominant inside all season long, averaging 54% in the paint on the season and 49% during Big 12 play.
Weakness: PG Elijah Johnson
I hate to say it, and I’m sure we are all sick of reading it, but G Elijah Johnson (9.1 PPg-4.6 APG) has been the biggest disappointment of the Jayhawks season. I’m not saying that because of recent struggles either. Elijah Johnson ended last season with 14.4 PPG while shooting 46.8% from three from March until April, but his is averaging just 8 PPG and 26% form three in Big 12 play this year. If we can see G Naadir Tharpe (5.6 PPG-2.8 APG) start just one game this year, just to see how our offense would run, I promise I would not say another word about the PG position.
Trending Up: Kansas Frontcourt
The Kansas frontcourt was a major factor in the Jayhawks win over the Wildcats. The Kansas bigs provided an offensive and defensive presence. F Kevin Young (7.7 PPG-6.8 RPG) has surprised me this season with his development into a starter while C Jeff Withey (13.2 PPG-8.3 RPG-4.1 BPG) has just been Withey. Young has a near double-double against the Wildcats, scoring 13 points and grabbing 9 boards, while Withey 17 points, 10 rebounds and 5 blocks all while breaking the Jayhawks all time blocking record.
Trending Down: Defense
It may be hard to hear, but the Jayhawks’ defense has actually been getting worse, even against K-State it was not operating at 100%. Over the course of the Jayhawks last four games, Kansas has allowed teams to shoot 42.2% from the field, 6.2% above their season average of 36%. The Jayhawks allowed more than 60 points for the fourth game in a row, before that Kansas had allowed more than 60 points only six times all season. Although the defense has been slightly down, it hopefully won't be a huge issue against a struggling Texas offense.
The Kansas Jayhawks look to crush the Texas Longhorns, and they should. There should be no reason that the Jayhawks can't ride the energy and momentum of the crowd and College Gameday and play at a high level against a Texas team that has allowed 76.8 PPG in Big 12 road games this year. This game could be the one where we see Johnson gain the boost of confidence he so desperately needs, or see a closely contested game in which neither side wins. It’s up to Kansas whether they play above or down to the level of the Longhorns.