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Oklahoma v Texas Photo by Chris Covatta/Getty Images

Kansas hops back into Big 12 play with a visit to Austin to take on a Texas team that almost sprung the upset in Lawrence earlier this month. The Longhorns are a team who I think can take a step forward towards the end of this season, making this a difficult opponent tonight.

For starters, the offense has been one of the better ones in the Big 12. The Longhorns are scoring 1.06 points per trip in Big 12 play, good for 2nd in the league, although that is despite ranking 287th in the nation in shots at the rim. That leads me to believe that their 2 point percentage of 51.6 percent is going to come down a bit as we roll into February and March. Texas could also stand to draw a few more fouls, as they rank 10th in the league at getting to the line but sit at 2nd in the league in free throw shooting.

Defensively is where I think Texas will certainly improve. The Horns are 6th in the league defensively right now, but lead the league in 2-point defense and are 3rd at limiting 3-point attempts. Their big problem is a lack of forcing turnovers, but Kansas has helped its opponents out in that area, so I would not be surprised to see a few more turnovers than you would think by the Jayhawks tonight.

Players to Watch

Jaxson Hayes, 6-11 freshman forward

Hayes struggled with foul trouble in the first matchup, but still was able to show off the skills package that makes him an intriguing NBA prospect. Hayes currently leads the league in both eFG and true shooting percentage, and also leads in block percentage.

Jase Febres, 6-5 sophomore guard

Febres took 11 threes in the prior matchup, making 4 of them. He also ranks 12th in the league in 3-point percentage at 39.5 percent in Big 12 play (37 percent overall). He doesn’t offer much else other than his shooting, but his shooting ability is enough to make the defense take notice.

Matt Coleman, 6-2 sophomore guard

I haven’t been impressed with Coleman over the course of his career yet, but he had a really nice game in the prior matchup with 8 assists and 0 turnovers. He also did an admirable job defensively on Devon Dotson. Another effort like that and Texas might spring the upset.

The Pick

Kansas has just one road win all season, and has played demonstrably worse on the road than they have at home or at neutral sites. However, the Jayhawks should be able to get some baskets inside, and I think Dotson will respond well to the poor game he had against Texas in the last matchup.

On the other hand, I don’t think Marcus Garrett is going to have a 3-4 night from behind the arc like he did in Lawrence. It should be close, and it should be low scoring. I’m picking Kansas based only on the fact they have Dedric Lawson and Texas doesn’t. Jayhawks 64, Longhorns 62.