Game 25: No. 17 Kansas at No. 14 Texas – Preview and Prediction

The No. 17 Kansas Jayhawks seem to be surging at just the right time, as they have won five straight games and seven of their last eight Big 12 contests. They carry this hot play into one of the most important games of the year as they square off with No. 14 Texas on Tuesday night in Austin. Texas is on the opposite end of the spectrum, as they come in losers of four of their last six, including a brutal loss to West Virginia on Saturday where they blew a 19-point lead. A win here for KU would be an impressive mark on their tournament resume, which is starting to round into form as we close out the regular season. It would also potentially secure at least a share of second place, as it would solidify a minimum .667 winning percentage in Big 12 play, which I’m not sure anybody other than Baylor will surpass.

  • Tuesday, February 23rd, 2021, 8:00 PM CDT
  • Erwin Center – Austin, Texas
  • ESPN
  • No. 17/19 Kansas (17-7, 11-5) takes a five-game winning streak into its battle at No. 14/16 Texas (13-6, 7-5) Tuesday, Feb. 23, at 8 p.m. (CT) on ESPN. KU’s winning streak is the second-longest in the Big 12. 
  • Kansas is 11-5 in Big 12 play, which is the most wins in the league and two victories more than league-leading Baylor (9-0) and Oklahoma (9- 4). With a 68.8 league winning percentage, KU is just behind Oklahoma (69.2%) in the Big 12 standings with both trailing Baylor
  • Texas will be the 12th Associated Press ranked team Kansas will play in 2020-21. KU is 6-5 versus ranked opponents this season and its 11 games versus ranked foes is second most in NCAA DI this season. KU’s six wins are tied for the most in NCAA Division I with Iowa.
  • With its win against Texas Tech (2/20), KU has now won 11 league games for the 27th consecutive season. The current 27-year streak with 10-plus league wins is the longest active streak in the nation. KU has won 10 or more conference games 58 times overall.
  • Kansas is No. 14 in NET nationally in strength of schedule among the 357 teams listed. To show how tough the Big 12 is, Kansas’ NET is No. 16, which is fourth in the conference. 
  • Kansas’ 12 Quadrant 1 games played in 2020-21 are tied for the most in the Big 12 with West Virginia and Kansas State. KU is 5-7 versus Quadrant 1 teams, 3-0 vs. Q2, 3-0 vs. Q3, 5-0 vs. Q4. 
  • Redshirt-freshman Jalen Wilson is third in the Big 12 in rebounding at 8.0 rpg, which is first among league freshmen. His eight double-doubles are second overall in the Big 12. He has five DDs in the last six games

Longhorns to Watch

Andrew Jones  – 6’4”, senior, guard
We are pretty well versed with Jones’ story by now, as he overcame a bout with cancer earlier in his career and now is having the best season of his college career. He leads the Longhorns in scoring at 15.1 PPG, and has especially turned it on in conference play. In league games, he’s averaging 18.4 PPG and had 5 20-point efforts. He’s not a particularly good three-point shooter (just 31%), but he’s excellent at getting to the basket and drawing contact. In the first matchup with KU, Jones had 14 points and seven boards.

Greg Brown – 6’9”, freshman, forward
Brown, a highly prized recruit, has been solid for his hometown Longhorns this year. This season, Brown is averaging 10.8 PPG and leading the team in rebounding at 7.6 RPG. He put up a big ole goose egg against WVU on Saturday, and was held to just five points against KU in January, nevertheless Brown has double-double potential every time out.

Jayhawk Pick to Click

Jalen Wilson – 6’8”, sophomore, guard
I’ll ride the hot hand here and go with Wilson for the third straight game as my pick to click. Wilson has notched five double-doubles in his last six games, including a 11-point, 11-rebound performance against Texas Tech. Over the last seven games, Wilson is averaging 13.7 PPG and 10.3 RPG. In the first meeting with Texas, Wilson was about the only Jayhawk to show up, as he scored 20 points on 6-for-13 from the field with seven rebounds. 

Prediction

I’m very nervous heading into this one, because while KU has played much better over the last three weeks or so, the majority of it has come against bottom-feeders and they just haven’t looked like a dominant Kansas team of the past. Texas is coming in limping, as they just blew a 19-point lead to WVU and had two of their own players blow up at each other in the huddle. It was a complete meltdown. Also for the last month and half, Texas has looked pretty meh. Since January 13, the Longhorns are just 3-5, with those three wins coming against K-State (2x) and TCU. It’s been nearly 50 days since Texas beat a team with a winning record, which is crazy. All of this makes me think Texas might just flip the switch and come out blazing against the Jayhawks, but let’s dive into some analysis first.

The Longhorns are the best rebounding team in the Big 12. They take more threes than any team in the league, and they’re top-three in points and three-point percentage. Defensively, they have enough length and talent to bother anyone. They stifled Kansas on January 2nd, as KU scored just 59 points. In that matchup, Kansas shot a dismal 30 percent from the floor and 3-for-23 from three-point land. I don’t see either of those numbers being replicated. Texas also shot 12-for-26 from three that game, and while they are a good three-point shooting team, it hasn’t always propelled them to victories, and it’s hard to see them flirting with 50% from deep again.

Despite all of the talent and impressive offensive and defensive numbers, Texas’ biggest weakness is a huge one. They foul about as frequently as any team in the nation does, and they shoot the worst free-throw percentage in the conference. Considering that four of their last five games have either been decided by one possession or in overtime, it’s safe to say that fouls and free throws are killing Texas. They did a great job not fouling in Lawrence, but in this game, I think things even out.

Kansas will absolutely need more out of David McCormack. The big man scored eight points and had just five boards in 14 minutes in the first meeting. Since, he’s taken off and become a consistent scorer, and KU will need its big man against the length and size of Texas. I think Marcus Garrett plays better than he did on Jan. 2, and having Bryce Thompson and Dajuan Harris contributing off the bench will give Kansas just enough to get by in this one. The Jayhawks are hot. They are surging and winning games at just the right time. Picking Bill Self against Shaka Smart is always a winning strategy, and I think KU picks up a huge road victory to help its seeding as we head into March. 

Kansas 75, Texas 70
KU +2.5

AUDIO PREVIEW: LINK

Season Record: 18-6 (14-10 ATS)

Bobby Norell

My name is Bobby Norell. I'm from a small town in northern Indiana. I recently graduated from Indiana University with a degree in Sport Communication. Even though my diploma says I'm a Hoosier, my love for the Jayhawks has never wavered. They'll always come No.1.

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