Texas comes to Allen Fieldhouse clinging to its NCAA tournament hopes. Bracket Matrix has them as one of the final at-larges, but with games against Kansas and West Virginia left as well as the Big 12 tournament, the Longhorns have a chance to make big strides to clinch a tournament berth.
Kansas, meanwhile, is clinging to the final 1 seed, although the 4s and 5s look like worse matchups for the Jayhawks than the 3s do, so maybe a clutch loss in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 tournament is in the cards.
Tonight doesn’t look like it will pose many problems for the Jayhawks. Texas comes into the game 10th in the league in offense, 9th in 3-point shooting, 7th in 2-point shooting, and 7th in offensive rebounding. They grabbed around 40 percent of their misses in the first matchup, so they’ll probably grab quite a few again, but it’s somewhat hard to see them doing it enough to win the game.
Defensively, though, Texas has mostly been excellent this year. They rank 5th in adjusted defensive efficiency, although they just rank 4th in PPP allowed in Big 12 play. The Horns limit threes well and don’t let teams get to the free throw line, but they are middle of the pack in 2-point defense despite having Mo Bamba. Kansas got a ton of good looks from three in the first matchup, although it is fair to say they made some very tough ones as well. If those tough ones aren’t knocked down tonight, Kansas could potentially be in for some nervous moments.
Players to Watch
Mo Bamba, 6-11 freshman center
He had 24 points and 15 rebounds in the first matchup, and currently leads the league in defensive rebounding, ranks 5th in offensive rebounding, and 2nd in block percentage. Needless to say, he’s the key to the game for Texas.
Kerwin Roach, 6-4 junior guard
One of the best perimeter defenders in the Big 12, Roach will likely spend a lot of time on Devonte Graham. He’s been OK offensively as well, but is shooting just 37 percent on twos in Big 12 play without a real ability to get to the free throw line.
Keys to the Game
- Threes - Kansas probably won’t get a ton of easy looks inside with Bamba, so they’ll need to be firing from deep. On the other side, Texas is one of the worst 3-point shooting teams in the nation, so any bonus threes could make Kansas a bit nervous.
- Udoka Azubuike - He struggled in the first half of the first matchup, but he came out and dominated in the second half. Due to Texas’s personnel, this probably isn’t the type of game Mitch Lightfoot can make a huge impact, and probably not De Sousa either, so Azubuike needs to stay on the floor.
- Defensive rebounding - Texas dominated the offensive glass in the first matchup, but if Kansas can keep it to 35 percent or so, they should be able to win.
The Longhorns are a tough matchup due to their size, and they might be able to get some extra easy baskets due to KU’s defensive deficiencies, but if Kansas can keep them to the outside, they should be able to win. Forget the analysis though; Kansas hasn’t lost on senior night for over 30 years. They won’t do it tonight. Kansas 72-66.