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Kansas - Texas: Things to look for

  • Before I start, I do think that tomorrow's game will be a tough one. Despite the fact that Texas has really struggled, there is a lot of pride in that locker room and their backs are totally against the wall. They've had the entire week off to prepare just for this game and I'm sure they will approach this like their very slim NCAA Tournament hopes are on the line (which they are).

    It will be interesting to see how Texas attempts to match-up with the Jayhawks in this game. They have a versatile lineup in the fact that they can go big with Ridley / Ibeh on the interior or they can play small, much like Iowa State, and go with Lammert, Papi, and Holmes on their front line, all of whom can operate on the perimeter. After watching Texas play a great deal over the past ten years, I know that defense comes first with Coach Barnes and he will go big as much as he can. He doesn't like to double the post and, while I think that it's best to defend Kansas by "Icing" the wing pick and roll, he's only done that consistently in his career for only one season (although he has it in the defensive system this year), so the Jayhawks can expect that Texas will hedge the pick and roll, allowing them to run that portion of their offense. These are VERY good things for Kansas. I'm sure they will sag off of Young / Ellis and try to clog the lane but as long as the Jayhawks can operate off the pick and roll I think they will be okay in this game.

    Defensively I don't see Kansas doing anything different in this game than they have throughout the season. The Longhorns have run a version of the Flex offense at times, but they don't really look to get the ball into the post on this. They will also run McClellan around screens on the baseline and, obviously, they run a lot of random pick and roll. Expect them to involve Withey in ballscreens as much as possible, but this isn't something that the Jayhawks haven't seen this year as every team Kansas plays against should try to do this. It will be important for the Jayhawks to keep McClellan under control and not let him get hot from the perimeter. As a result, keeping Releford out of foul trouble is vital.

    Kansas has done a great job of getting off to good starts this season. A similar start in this game would be very important against a young team who has struggled this season and could be fragile emotionally. Since this is such a big game for Texas, I see them getting off to a good start and keeping the score close throughout. However, I see the Jayhawks pulling away in the last 5 minutes for an 8-10 point victory.