Kansas Jayhawks Look To Avenge Loss Against Texas Longhorns


Kansas Jayhawks guard Naadir Tharpe (10)Mandatory Credit: Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

The Kansas Jayhawks (20-6, 11-2) have a chance to all but secure their 10th straight Big 12 Conference regular season championship Saturday against the Texas Longhorns (20-6, 9-4). With a victory, Kansas will have a three game lead on the field with 4 games to go.

A Jayhawks win isn’t a given against the Longhorns, even at Allen Fieldhouse. Texas dominated their previous meeting, winning 81-69 on February 1st. Texas’ overall size, physicality, and athleticism caused Kansas all kinds of problems.

Texas still possesses those assets.

Kansas has to find a way to guard Isaiah Taylor, who offers a problematic match up for the Jayhawks. Taylor scorched the Kansas perimeter players for 23 points with his size and quickness. If Kansas hopes to stop him, either Wayne Selden Jr. or Andrew Wiggins will have to track him, probably taking turns as not get into foul trouble.

Kansas Jayhawks forward Perry Ellis (34) Credit: USA Today

Wiggins, with 16.2 points a game, remains the Jayhawks’ scoring leader, and except for a couple of down games, has been fairly consistent in conference play. Perry Ellis, with 13.6 points a contest, has been much more up and down. Joel Embiid tallies 11 points and 7.8 rebounds.

Embiid doesn’t have any monster scoring games but neither does he have games with almost nothing. Plus, with one more blocked shot, he will be sole possessor of the Kansas freshman blocked shot record with 63.

Teams like Texas, with size and strength, have given the Jayhawks fits over and over this season. Despite Kansas’ size and length, they are not a real physical or aggressive team – Bill Self likes to call it “soft” sometimes. Kansas hasn’t reacted well to these teams, including Texas, in their previous meeting.

Kansas’ biggest problem is that Bill Self plays two players that may be two of the weakest starters he has ever had at Kansas on the defensive end. Naadir Tharpe can keep almost no one with the ball in front of him, and if you focus on him, he loses track of his guy away from the ball on a regular basis.

Perry Ellis, for all his positives on the offensive end, struggles to compete on defense. He just isn’t strong enough inside at times, and he is very slow to help.

This being said, there has been some obvious improvements to this part of his game as the season has progressed. Ellis is a finesse player with a good set of skills, but he gets taken out of physical games sometimes.

Both Tharpe and Ellis must play better than they did at Texas when Tharpe netted just 3 points and 3 assists, and Ellis, who did score 11, but pulled down just 2 rebounds. They were even worse against Texas Tech earlier in the week.

Kansas is still a very talented team, and they should win at home, no matter the opponent. Texas has a lot to play for, though. A win by the Longhorns will keep the Jayhawks in a position to be overtaken. A Kansas loss will keep Texas just one game out of a tie for first place in the conference.

The Kansas Jayhawks want to win the regular season title outright, and holding off a very talented Longhorn squad would put them in a very favorable position to do just that.

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