In what certainly is the marquee game of the week for Kansas City area residents, Kansas hosts Texas for their second meeting in just over two weeks. The first one saw Kansas take a 9-point win in Austin as they were never really threatened, and unless Ochai Agbaji is hungover from all of the Chiefs celebrations (although how could you tell the difference at this point), it looks like another relatively easy one.
Texas currently is riding a two game winning streak, although those wins are by a combined 5 points. Offensively though, it’s been rough with the Horns scoring over a point per possession in just two Big 12 games. It’s somewhat surprising they can’t score more considering they are 3rd in the league in attempting threes and 1st in making them, but combining that with turning it over 22 percent of their possessions, getting just 25 percent of their misses, and barely ever making it to the free throw line it starts to make more sense.
Basically, unless Texas goes absolutely nuclear from three, or they fix everything else for one night, it’s going to be tough to see them scoring enough to win this one. In fact, these are maybe the types of teams Kansas wants to see in March: even with good shooting nights they have bad offenses, and while Kansas will give up some 3-point attempts, it’s tough to see a team being good enough in every other facet to win.
Defensively, Texas has struggled in Big 12 play as well, ranking 8th. That’s more surprising to me than the offense considering the Luke Yaklich hire and some of the rangy athletes they have both inside and on the perimeter. They’re getting extremely unlucky in terms of opponents’ threes, leading the league in limiting attempts but having opponents shoot over 37 percent against them from deep. They’re also close to the worst in the league at forcing turnovers and worst in the league at getting defensive rebounds. And, while Texas has a good 2-point defense, it’s tough to see them limiting Kansas too much in that area - note that Kansas shot over 50 percent from two in the first meeting.
Players to Watch
Matt Coleman, 6-2 junior guard
Dotson dominated this matchup in the first meeting, but Coleman has played well all year. He’s shooting 43 percent from three, is one of the top assist guys in the Big 12, and is a really good perimeter defender as well.
Jericho Sims, 6-9 junior forward
Sims is the biggest matchup issue for Kansas, a force on the glass as well as an efficient interior scorer. He also is the rare big man who is efficient at the rim and from the mid range.
Andrew Jones, 6-4 sophomore guard
Jones struggled a bit in the first matchup, but he’s a good scorer both at the rim and from three, and is also efficient at initiating the offense from the wing.
Kansas is favored by 14.5 in this one, and while I am usually loathe to take the favorite in these big spreads, the matchup is just so much in Kansas’s favor that I have a hard time seeing Texas put up any kind of resistance. It looks like the party will continue for another night. Give me Kansas 79, Texas 63.