Austin, TX (Sports Network) - The fourth-ranked Kansas Jayhawks continue
pursuit of their ninth straight Big 12 title, when they take on the Texas
Longhorns on Saturday at the Frank Erwin Center.
Bill Self's Jayhawks have been almost perfect on the season. The team dropped
its second game of the campaign in a neutral site affair against Michigan
State (67-64), but has won 14 straight since. The team's superior play has
poured over into league action, with a pair of lopsided wins over Texas Tech
(60-46) on the road and Baylor (61-44) at home.
Rick Barnes' young Longhorns have suffered growing pains this season and as a
result, Texas currently sits a a mediocre 8-8 overall. To make matters a
little worse is the early hole the team has put itself in with three straight
losses to open Big 12 play, including an 82-62 rout at Iowa State last
Kansas holds a 20-7 advantage in the all-time series and has won six of the
last seven meetings, overall. Texas holds a narrow 3-2 edge in games played in
The Jayhawks dialed up the defense to new heights against Baylor last time
out, allowing a mere 44 points, the fewest Kansas has given up in a conference
game since 2007. It was also KU's 32nd straight home win, the second-longest
active streak in the nation. Freshman Ben McLemore finished with a team-high
17 points. Joining him in double figures were Elijah Johnson and Travis
Releford, who tacked on 12 and 10 points, respectively.
McLemore has made an immediate impact for Kansas, shooting 50.3 percent from
the floor and 43.5 percent from behind the arc to lead the team with 16.4 ppg.
He is currently listed a probable for this game, nursing an injured ankle. The
Jayhawks have the luxury of great balance, as the team complements McLemore's
accuracy from the perimeter, with one of the nation's premier big men in
senior center Jeff Withey. The 7-footer is averaging 13.1 points and 8.2
rebounds per game, while ranking among the nation's best shot-blockers (4.7
bpg). Releford and Johnson add to the perimeter depth with 13.0 and 9.9 ppg,
respectively. Johnson also serves as the team's primary facilitator (5.2 apg).
Jonathan Holmes and Julien Lewis each finished with 15 points, but it wasn't
even close to be enough, as the Longhorns fell by 20 points to the Cyclones in
Ames last time out. Ioannis Papapetrou added 13 points in defeat, but the
remainder of the roster combined for a mere 19 points.
That has been the problem all season long for Texas, which simply lacks ideal
scoring depth. The Longhorns are averaging a modest 64.1 ppg this season as
their shooting accuracy has been the main culprit. The team is netting just
40.1 percent of its shots overall, including under 30 percent from 3-point
range. The saving grace is the fact that Texas leads the nation in field-goal
percentage defense (.343). Sophomore Sheldon McClellan currently leads the
team in scoring at 14.3 ppg, but has struggled of late, prompting Barnes to
sit him all but one minute of the game against Iowa State. For the Longhorns
to turn things around, McClellan will need to become more of the leader.
SOphomore guard Julien Lewis (11.8 ppg) and freshman guard Javan Felix (9.4
ppg) add limited scoring punch, while Felix serves as the team's top
distributor (6.3 apg).
The Sports Network