After a Big 12 title-clinching win over Texas Tech on Tuesday, the Kansas men’s basketball team will look to make its winning streak eight games as it faces Texas on Saturday at Moody Center. It’ll be both teams’ last regular season game.
The two teams last met in February, with the Jayhawks beating the Longhorns 88-80 in Allen Fieldhouse.
Texas enters the weekend fresh off a 75-73 loss to TCU, which clinched the Big 12 title outright for KU. Even so, the Longhorns are an elite team on both ends and are headlined by a sharpshooting guard.
Below is a scouting report and prediction of the game.
Saturday’s game: No. 3 Kansas vs. No. 9 Texas
When/where: 3 p.m., Moody Center
Opponent’s record: 22-8, 11-6 Big 12
KenPom (Ken Pomeroy) Ranking: 10
All statistics are from KenPom.com, Hoop-Math.com and EvanMiya. KenPom stats only include Division I competition.
Texas Team Strengths
Elite offense : Texas ranks 18th in adjusted offensive efficiency (118). Adjusted offensive efficiency is the number of points a team scores per 100 possessions, adjusted for the opponent. The Longhorns also rank 50th in effective field goal percentage (53.3)
Sharing is caring: The Longhorns rank 35th in the country in assist rate (57.6%).
Taking care of the ball: Texas does great job of taking care of the ball. UT ranks 69th in turnover percentage nationally.
Texas Team Weaknesses
Issues with three-pointers: Texas is 151st in the nation in three-point percentage (34.7)
Not drawing fouls: UT ranks 280th in opposing team foul rate (35.5%)
A smaller team overall: The Longhorns are 264th in average height
Texas Name to Know
6-foot-4 senior guard Marcus Carr (No. 5)
+ Solid shooter (shoots 37.4% from three)
+ Solid rebounder (three rebounds per game)
– Turnover prone (2.1 turnovers per game)
Tale of the Tape
Texas loves to score in transition.
Here, UT forward Timmy Allen found Sir’Jabari Rice behind the arc with a pass and Rice canned the three. Texas doesn’t shoot a lot of three-pointers, but when the Longhorns do, it’s usually Rice, Carr or Tyrese Hunter.
KU’s focus should be on finding them on fast breaks and making sure they don’t find an opening from beyond the arc. Rice shoots 38.4% from three, while Carr is right around 37.4%.
UT does an excellent job of finding quality shots inside the arc. Here, Allen drove in and drew two Iowa State defenders, then wisely dumped the ball off to Dillon Mitchell, who dunked the ball. KU needs to wall of the paint, not overhelp and cut off driving lanes to throw Texas off its game.
After KU clinched the Big 12 title outright on Wednesday, conventional wisdom would say this game doesn’t matter.
Of course, conventional wisdom doesn’t apply to KU coach Bill Self and his team. It’s the season’s last game, and the Jayhawks come into Austin riding a seven-game win streak.
The key matchup in this game is KU’s defense vs. Texas’ offense. Kansas needs to force UT to shoot threes, which is a weak point on offense. The Jayhawks need to wall off the paint, limit transition opportunities and limit touches for UT star scorers such as Carr.
Kansas’ offense needs to drive the ball against Texas as much as possible because more likely than not (due to UT’s high foul rate) they will go to the line. That means KU guards Dajuan Harris and Kevin McCullar need to be fearless while driving the ball.
This will be a tough matchup for Kansas, but the Jayhawks have been rolling lately and aren’t taking it easy for the game. Give me KU for the win here.
Kansas 78, Texas 74
Shreyas’ pick to cover the spread: Kansas (+2.5)
Shreyas’ season record: 14-7
Shreyas’ record against the spread: 12-9
KU Player to watch: Gradey Dick
After a quiet outing against Texas Tech, I expect a bounce-back game from star freshman Gradey Dick. Dick scored four points on 0-for-7 shooting from the floor against the Red Raiders.
UT isn’t amazing at defending the three-point line, so look for Dick to thrive and return to his usual scoring ways. On defense, the 6-foot-8 guard can get into the passing lanes and alter shots against this undersized UT team.
If Dick returns to his usual scoring ways and gets a couple of steals, it’ll be hard to see Kansas losing this game.