Following Wednesday’s disappointing loss to the No. 22 TCU Horned Frogs, the No. 9 Texas Longhorns aren’t able to play for a share of the regular-season conference title on Saturday at the Moody Center against the No. 3 Kansas Jayhawks, but the game does have significant implications for the Big 12 Tournament.
Second with win and loss by either Kansas State or Baylor. Third with win, Kansas State win and Baylor win. Third with loss and Baylor loss. Fourth with loss and Baylor win.
So there are still significant stakes involved in this game that could impact how deep into the conference tournament the Longhorns are able to play, which could in turn impact whether Texas is able to remain a No. 2 seed, as currently projected.
Kansas will arrive in Austin on a hot streak, as head coach Bill Self’s team hasn’t lost since Iowa State beat them by 15 a month ago. The seven-game winning streak started with an eight-point win in Lawrence, although the last three victories have been by a combined 11 points. But no need for style points, right?
In the first matchup between the two teams, Kansas raced out to a 14-point lead in the first half before Texas surged back to tie the game at 43-43 with 17:19 remaining. The game stayed close over the next several minutes until the Jayhawks went on a 6-0 run to take an eight-point lead. The Longhorns were within six points until an offensive rebound led to a back-breaking three by Gradey Dick to stretch the margin to nine points at the 5:30 mark. Dick led the Jayhawks in scoring with 21 points.
Guard Marcus Carr did everything he could to keep Texas in the game, scoring 29 points, but Kansas forced the visitors into one-on-one play, leading to only six assists on 30 made baskets for the Horns.
Coming out of Wednesday’s loss, the emphasis for interim head coach Rodney Terry will be on the aspects of the game that Texas can control — energy, toughness, and attention to detail, all areas in which the Longhorns struggled against the Horned Frogs while digging yet another first-half hole that led to a 12-point deficit at halftime.
Getting Carr back on track offensively would help, too, as the Minnesota transfer hasn’t taken any free-throw attempts in two of the last three games and is 7-of-30 shooting from three (23.3 percent) over his last four games.
The good news is that guard Tyrese Hunter is starting to find some rhythm, averaging 14.3 points per game on 46.9-percent shooting, including 8-of-15 (.533) from three-point range, in addition to seven assists and five steals over the last three games.
Texas has a 16-1 record this season at the Moody Center, including 5-0 against AP Top 25 opponents, with the only loss coming to Kansas State back in January — the Longhorns have won seven straight home games.
A pre-game ceremony will recognize five seniors (Carr, Timmy Allen, Christian Bishop, Dylan Disu, and Sir’Jabari Rice).
How to watch
Time: 3 p.m. Central