It’s been 10 days since we’ve last seen the No. 3 Kansas Jayhawks when they took down No. 7 West Virginia. KU returns from the holiday break, with another formidable foe as they welcome No. 8 Texas to Allen Fieldhouse on Saturday morning. The Longhorns come in with a 7-1 record, with wins over North Carolina and Indiana. Their only loss is to No. 4 Villanova in Austin. A win here for the Jayhawks would give them five wins over opponents who were ranked at the time.
- Saturday, January 2, 2021, 11:00 AM CDT
- Allen Fieldhouse – Lawrence, Kan.
- With Kansas’ last game on Dec. 22, the 11 days between games is the longest span in the Bill Self era at KU, which began in 2003-04. Should Kansas play every game on schedule, the 11 days could be matched or surpassed as KU’s final regular-season game will be Feb. 27 with the Big 12 Championship starting March 10.
- Texas is the second-straight Associated Press top-10 team Kansas will play as Kansas defeated No. 7 West Virginia, 79-65, on Dec. 22. The last time KU played consecutive top-10 teams was the 2018 NCAA Tournament. No. 9 Duke (3/25/18) and No. 2 Villanova (3/31/18) with the latter in the Final Four. The last time Kansas played back-to-back AP top-10 teams in the regular season was No. 9 West Virginia (2/13/17) and No. 4 Baylor (2/18/17), both KU victories.
- All-time, Kansas is 16-1 against Texas at Allen Fieldhouse. However, this is the first time the Jayhawks will face a ranked Longhorns squad since February 29, 2016.
- Kansas has won eight straight since losing its season opener to No. 1 Gonzaga and is coming off a 79-65 win versus No. 7/6 West Virginia (12/22). Kansas’ eight-game winning streak is tied for the ninth longest in NCAA Division I. Texas has won three straight since defeating Oklahoma State, 77-74, on Dec. 20.
- Texas will be the sixth ranked team Kansas will play so far in 2020-21. The Jayhawks are 4-1 versus ranked foes this season and the four wins tie for the most against ranked teams this season, along with Gonzaga. KU is 2-1 versus top-10 teams in 2020-21.
- Kansas’ 13-game home-court winning streak ranks tied for 12th nationally. The Jayhawks are 5-0 in Allen Fieldhouse this season.
Longhorns to Watch
Matt Coleman – 6’2”, senior, guard
Coleman leads the ‘Horns in scoring and assists at 13.9 PPG and 4.3 APG. He’s also one of the better three-point shooters Texas has, as he’s shooting 38.5 percent from deep. Last time out against Oklahoma State, Coleman went for 15 points with seven boards and four assists. Coleman has been in double-figures in all but two games this season.
Greg Brown – 6’9”, freshman, forward
Brown, a highly prized recruit, has been solid in his first eight games for his hometown Longhorns. This season, Brown is averaging 12.5 PPG and leading the team in rebounding at 7.5 RPG. He has perhaps his best games of the season as he poured in career highs in both points and rebounds with 24 and 14 respectively in a win over Oklahoma State.
Jayhawk Pick to Click
Ochai Agbaji – 6’8”, sophomore, guard
After putting up a goose egg in the win against Creighton back on December 8, Agabji has put up totals of 18, 23 and 11. He’s made 11 three-points over that span as well, and is KU’s best three-point shooter this season 44.4 percent. KU has shown they play its best when they #FreeTheThree. Agbaji will need to be a part of that. I like him to keep his hot stretch of play going against Texas.
Kansas shot the lights out against West Virginia, as they went 16-for-37 from three-point range. Thats the way this Kansas team needs to play; make shots and play defense. They’ve done both those things well this season, as they rank 26th nationally in three-point percentage and seventh in adjusted defensive efficiency.
On the other side, Texas has done very well at not just defending the three, but keeping their opponents off the three-point line in general. They rank seventh nationally in opponent’s percentage of three’s take at 27.2 percent. Villanova, who takes threes on a regular basis, was just 6-for-19 against the Longhorns last month. It will be a test of strengths on Saturday afternoon.
The Longhorns, much like West Virgnia, has great size on the interior with guys like Greg Brown, Jericho Sims and Kai Jones. Texas rebounds well but doesn’t have a high block rate, and they’re among the nation’s leaders in fouls per game. It’s a good thing that they’re deep, because they foul as frequently as anyone in the country, and the big men are particularly foul-happy. So again, David McCormack will be a key factor. He held his own against West Virginia. We’ll see if he can do it again against the Longhorns.
I’ve said this in both predictions for the first two league games, but I see this one going down to the wire. The line opened at -5.5, and I liked Texas in that case, but with a couple of Covid question marks and the line falling to -4, I think Kansas is the right side here. The Big 12 is a gauntlet and KU is going to play a lot of close games. I think Kansas will able to spread Texas out and make shots from the perimeter. KU will easily be the best or second best opponent Texas has played this season, and even with limited capacity being at home in Allen Fieldhouse, that should help the Jayhawks as well. I think Kansas hits just enough threes to squeak past the Longhorns, propelling them to a 3-0 start in Big 12 play.
Kansas 73, Texas 68
Season Record: 8-1 (7-2 ATS)