Newly-ranked No. 17 Kansas men’s basketball will head to Austin, Texas, to try to extend its five-game win streak against the No. 14 Texas Longhorns Tuesday at 8 p.m.
The Longhorns are coming off a heartbreaking 84-82 loss to West Virginia last Saturday and currently sit at 13-6 (7-5 Big 12).
Kansas impact player: Freshman guard Bryce Thompson
Thompson is Kansas’ go-to player off the bench right now, and his minutes are so valuable because they usually give senior guard Marcus Garrett time to rest on the bench. With his injury-plagued year, teams like Texas haven’t seen Thompson in action yet.
With that in mind, I think he can be a big difference-maker in this game, whether that’s playing hard defense or scoring the ball. Look for him to get some more minutes off the bench and be the spark plug this team needs at times.
Texas impact player: Freshman forward Greg Brown
Another young player for you, and maybe one of the best freshmen in the land. Brown is a talented, athletic four-man that can create all sorts of problems when he gets hot. Last game against West Virginia, Brown played 24 minutes but was in foul trouble and didn’t score for the first time this season.
Good players like Brown tend to bounce back, and Kansas redshirt freshman Jalen Wilson will have to be on his toes to keep Brown at bay.
It’s hard to win on the road in the Big 12, especially this year in a conference that has Sweet 16 caliber teams from seed No. 1-7. In turn, ESPN favors Texas by -2.5 and sets the over/under at 138.
My Prediction: Texas 77, Kansas 72
Record against the spread: 7-3
Kansas is hot and may be playing its best brand of basketball right now, but Texas is a really, really talented team. Their size and athleticism, mixed with the guards they have, may be too much for Kansas to handle on the road.
I predict a close and fun-to-watch game, but I don’t realistically see the Jayhawks pulling off a road upset.
Q&A with The Daily Texan sports editor Carter Yates
Kansan: "David McCormack has arguably been Kansas’ best performer as of late, but he didn’t play too well in the last matchup against Texas. What do you guys need to do to contain him again?"
Yates: "As of late, [McCormack’s] really come on. In the games I’ve been watching, he’s developed this shimmy fake he does as a post move, which is pretty nice to see. One thing I think Texas needs to do to contain him is to stay out of foul trouble. I know that’s a pretty basic answer, but Texas has really struggled with foul trouble as of late. Jericho Simms is a good matchup with David McCormack, but if he’s in foul trouble throughout the game, it’ll be more of a team effort to stop him."
Kansan: "Could you talk about the importance of guard play for this team and maybe some of the leadership that the trio of Coleman, Jones and Ramey bring?"
Yates: “The guard play for Texas has been everything this season. You talk about the trio, they are all veteran leaders. They have done a really good job this season being the floor generals, especially Coleman. Ramey has the ability to go off at any moment, even though he can be a little inconsistent. Andrew Jones has really come back into form from his freshman season after battling Leukemia.”
Kansan: "How important do you think winning the three-point battle is tonight? Any other areas you think Texas has to excel in to win?"
Yates: "The three-point battle is huge. Texas has the ability to rain in threes at a high clip like we did in the first half against West Virginia, but I would say maybe even more important is the free throw battle. I think if Texas wants to beat top teams like Kansas, they have to cash in on opportunities when they are fouled."
Kansan: "Kansas has really taken pride in its defense coming down the stretch and have maybe even made defense its identity. Where do you think this Texas team is at on the defensive end?"
Yates: "Texas in the very early part of the season was just shocking teams with their length that they have. They play a ferocious man-to-man defense and have guys who are so long. They just have on defense so many long bodies that make it hard for teams to find the rhythm. I think Texas is in a good spot defensively, but I’d like to see them press more often."