When Texas lost 83-57 to Kansas State on January 30, it was probably the low point for the season. That night in Manhattan, the Wildcats beat Texas in every way possible. The Longhorns couldn't score, melted down with turnovers, and couldn't stop Bruce Weber's team. It was a nightmare.
Tonight in Austin, Rick Barnes and company look to even the season series. Barnes has his star point guard Myck Kabongo back for the rematch, and since his return Texas has actually had a functioning offense. Kabongo will certainly help Texas deal with the defensive pressure that the Wildcats apply.
The question for Longhorn fans is, will this be enough? In the last three games Kagongo has been getting to the rack, as well as creating wide open shots for his teammates. When those shots fall, as they did against TCU, the Texas offense actually looks pretty good. When those shots don't fall, as happened a week ago against Kansas, things are still ugly.
While the Texas offense is more lively these days, the defense is struggling. Despite winning two out of three, the Longhorns have allowed more than one point per possession in their last three games. Kansas State was able to attack the rim and clobber the Longhorns on the glass in their game three weeks ago. To win tonight, Rick Barnes' team will need to tighten up on D, and will need to get rebounds so that they can end possessions.
Ken Pomeroy projects this game as a close one, with the most likely score 62-59 in favor of Kansas State. Of course, Pomeroy's results don't fully capture the effect of Myck Kabongo, which improves Texas' chances. Provided the Longhorns don't repeat their shooting disaster of a week ago and at least play some defense, this game has the potential to be close.