Preview: Texas vs. Kansas

Kansas vs. Texas

Saturday, January 23, 2016 · 1 p.m. (CT)

ESPN

 

After an 86-67 loss to Oklahoma State on Jan. 19, the Kansas Jayhawks (15-3, 4-2) are looking to get back on the path to the Big XII Title with an Allen Fieldhouse contest against Texas (12-6, 4-2) this weekend. Despite the upsetting start to the season against Michigan State, Bill Self managed to whip his Jayhawks back into shape, resulting in a thirteen game winning streak until falling to West Virginia and Oklahoma State within a single week. This bumpy ride has left Jayhawk fans across the nation wondering what on earth is going on with Self and his team, but the prospects for this game are promising. Jayhawk fans have every reason and motivation to expect a win from their favorite team, as there is plenty riding on this game. With a victory, Kansas’s home court winning streak could expand to 34 games – the fourth-longest streak in school history – and Self would pull in his 200th win in Allen Fieldhouse.

Meanwhile, the Longhorns are looking to ride the momentum from their 56-49 win over West Virginia on Jan. 20 and three game win streak into Allen Fieldhouse. Of course, that is a feat easier said than done, as Allen Fieldhouse is the Mecca of college basketball, the loudest arena in the country, and Self has a mere nine losses at home. Texas has only ever won once in Allen Fieldhouse back in 2011. Here’s to hoping that stat does not change after this Saturday’s contest.

 

Match-Up to Watch

The two big match-ups to watch will be junior guard Isaiah Taylor against our own Frank Mason III and senior forward Connor Lammert will have to contest with the powerhouse Perry Ellis.

Taylor is Texas’s leading man with 16.4 points per game (ppg), 4.7 assists per game (apg), and 15 steals this season. With his ability to take control of the ball from opposing guards, it will be interesting to see how Mason adapts his game to avoid excessive turnovers.

There is no doubt that Ellis is our big star so far this season, averaging 15.8 ppg and 6.8 rebounds per game (rpg). He’ll take on starter Lammert who is only averaging 6.1 ppg and 5.9 rpg. Jayhawk fans are sure that their star player will perform to par against Lammert in Allen Fieldhouse.

 

X-Factor for Kansas

         Of course, Kansas’s X-Factor is most prominently their home-court advantage. Coming off of two straight road losses, the Allen Fieldhouse roar may be just what the team needs to blow out Texas. Removing the location factor, though, Kansas’s X-Factor would likely be their ability to play a fast ball game. When faced with Texas’s full-court press, if Kansas’s guards can manage to move the ball down the court without losing possession to turnovers, their quick offense should result in quick points on the board.

 

 

X-Factor for Texas

Guards Isaiah Taylor and Javan Felix are Texas’s highest scorers averaging 16.4 and 11.1 ppg respectively. While these two are definitely looking to perform at their best on Saturday in Lawrence, they may not have quite the effect they would hope. Taylor struggled against West Virginia this week finishing the game with only four points, and Felix has historically struggled against Kansas, scoring no points in their last two match-ups.

With that said, it looks like Texas’s X-Factor will have to be their full-court press, which Coach Shaka Smart says his team has taken to more and more recently. Texas will have to capitalize on the Kansas guards’ tendencies to turn the ball over when pressured in order to gain an advantage over Kansas on their home court.

 

Key Stat

As far as statistics go, these two teams match up pretty closely with Kansas having the slight advantage in almost every category. Where Kansas seems to fall short in some of their closer contests, free throws and smart shots were a big factor. When games get to be neck and neck, back and forth, nitty-gritty, free throws really do start to count for more than you would think. If this Saturday’s game gets close with both teams in bonus or double bonus, it will come down to who can make their free throws most consistently. As far as taking smart shots, there are times when Kansas forwards and centers settle for a midrange shot instead of taking the ball into the paint, and that is where those players often fall short because those shots just won’t fall.

 

Prediction

Both Kansas and Texas have something to prove coming into this contest; Kansas is looking for a big home win to create some momentum going forward, and Texas is looking to ride their win momentum into this game to clinch an unheard of win in Allen Fieldhouse. It is sure to be a fantastic game to watch – probably a nail-biter.

In my own prediction, I see Kansas struggling to ward off Texas advances in the first half with either a very close game (the scoring margin never surpassing 10 or 12 points) or a significant Texas lead at the half. Then moving into the second half, I think Texas will succumb to the roar of Allen Fieldhouse, and Kansas will feed off that energy to ultimately defeat the Longhorns by a margin.

 

Score Prediction:

86-78

Kansas win

 

Kelly Werther

University of Kansas, 2019

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