Preview: Texas at #9 Kansas in Search of First Round Bye


Next Game

Texas Longhorns
@ Kansas Jayhawks

Saturday, Mar 7, 2009, 3:00 PM CST
Allen Fieldhouse * Lawrence, KS
Television: CBS
Radio: 98.1 FM / 1300 AM (Austin)

Las Vegas Line: Kansas -8
KenPom Data Prediction: Kansas, 72-64

Other Previews: TexasSports.com / Barking Carnival
Opponents Blog: Rock Chalk Talk

Complete Coverage >



SEASON COMPARISON


Kansas Texas

Kansas Texas
Overall Record 24-6 20-9 Offensive Efficiency (Rank) 114.1 (23) 109.9 (58)
Conference Record 13-2 9-6
Defensive Efficiency (Rank) 88.3 (9) 90.3 (23)
Home Record
17-1 13-2
Strength of Schedule Rank #41 #28
Away / Neutral Record 6-4 / 1-1
4-5 / 3-2 Quality Wins (KenPom Top 50)
n-Washington
Kansas St.
Texas A&M
Oklahoma St.
at Kansas St.
at Oklahoma
Missouri
UCLA
n-Villanova
at Wisconsin
Texas A&M
Okla St
Oklahoma
Record Last 5 and 10 Games 4-1 / 8-2
3-2 / 5-5 Losses

n-Syracuse
n-UMass
at Arizona
at Michigan St
at Missouri
at Texas Tech

n-Notre Dame
n-Michigan St
at Arkansas
at Oklahoma
Kansas St
Missouri
at Nebraska
at Texas A&M
at Ok State

Stakes and Keys to the Game after the jump.

THE STAKES

This one is pretty simple as it is the final game in the regular season for both teams. With a win, Kansas will finish alone in first place, grab an outright Big XII title, and the top seed in Oklahoma City next week. Now, the Jayhawks could still gain all three of those prizes should both OU and Missouri also lose on Saturday, and they would win any tiebreaker with OU or Missouri in terms of Big XII seeding. However, Bill Self does not want to share anything and certainly doesn’t want to finish the regular season on a two game losing streak. Last, for the NCAA tournament, Kansas is in fantastic shape for a #3 seed and would move to the #2 line with a win today and a Big XII tournament title.

Ever since the mid-season three game conference losing streak, a Big XII title became unattainable for the Longhorns. We reset the goal of a top four conference finish and a first round bye. That goal remains within reach but Texas must win today in Lawrence or have Colorado upset Kansas State in Manhattan (not going to happen). The Jayhawks are an impressive 17-1 at home including wins over Missouri last weekend, Kansas State, Texas A&M, and Oklahoma State. In fact, their only ‘home’ loss of the season actually came at the Sprint Center in Kansas City to Massachusetts. Last, Texas has never won in Lawrence (0-8), and needless to say, this one isn’t going to be easy.

Ken Pomeroy

Pomeroy’s stats show the Jayhawks to be ranked in the top 25 in both offensive and defensive efficiencies. They shoot the ball well from everywhere on the floor, are efficient on the offensive glass, and get to the free throw line at a high clip. The one area in which Kansas struggles is with turnovers. However, there is no correlation between a high turnover game and a loss for KU.

On defense, KU defends inside the arc as well as any team in the country while also limiting scoring with a high percentage of blocked shots and by protecting against offensive rebounds. When they get it going on defense, they are nearly impossible to beat.

KEYS TO THE GAME

1. Slow down KU’s fast break. As good as KU is in the half court, they are even better in transition. Texas must take good shots, limit turnovers, and balance Justin Mason’s and Damion James’ abilities on the offensive glass with sending AJ Abrams and Dogus Balbay back on defense.

2. Feed Dexter Pittman. This is important for two reasons. 1) Dexter is an efficient offensive player and Texas will need to score at least 75 to win this one. 2) Pittman cannot be defended by any single college player. If Dex is able to get potential first team all conference center, Cole Aldrich, in foul trouble, then Texas would be a much better position to pull off the upset.

3. Keep Sherron Collins out of the lane. This is easier said than done but is a big key to a victory. Collins, like Byron Eaton and Curtis Jerrells, can score from perimeter but is more dangerous and disruptive when he is able to get into the lane off the bounce. Mason and Balbay need to go underneath ball screens and defend without fouling. Good luck.

4. Play consistently for 40 minutes. It is senior day in Lawrence, even though KU doesn’t have any real contributors in that class. It is also the last home game of the year, and the Jayhawks are coming off an embarrassing loss in Lubbock on Wednesday evening. This Texas team has not played well on the road lately (at Ok State, at A&M, and at Nebraska) and often suffers through scoring droughts, particularly on the road. The Longhorns cannot afford a drought of any length this afternoon or they will get run out of the building. An upset victory is possible if a ton of things go our way but I’m not counting on it.

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