6:30 p.m. Saturday at Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence
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ESPNU; KCSP (610 AM)
•ABOUT TEXAS (20-6, 9-4 Big 12):
When Texas handled Kansas 81-69 in Austin on Feb. 2, the Longhorns became just the second team since 1997 to beat top 25 teams in four straight games. The other team: Kansas, which had accomplished the feat just a few weeks earlier. So now Texas makes the return trip to Allen Fieldhouse for Round 2. The Longhorns are coming off an 85-76 loss at Iowa State, falling two games behind Kansas in the Big 12 race. But they do feature the goods to test Kansas — even inside the Phog. Texas is tied for 13th nationally with 6.1 blocks per game, and the Longhorns ferociously protected the rim in the first game against Kansas. Texas had a season-high 12 blocks while the Jayhawks kept attacking the basket. Sophomore post players Cameron Ridley and Prince Ibeh can both alter shots, and junior forward Jonathan Holmes is another athletic presence in the frontcourt. Texas entered the weekend ranked in the top 30 in defensive efficiency, according to KenPom.com.
The Jayhawks have won four of five since losing at Texas on Feb. 2, and freshman Andrew Wiggins has quietly played some of his best basketball after going just two of 12 from the field against the Longhorns. In the last five games, Wiggins is averaging 17 points and 5.2 rebounds while shooting 44 percent from the field. He also leads Kansas with 19 put-backs on the year, including the game-winner on Tuesday at Texas Tech. Despite the occasional growing pains, Wiggins is building a solid resume for Big 12 player of the year — especially if Kansas wins the Big 12 by two or three games. If Kansas can handle Texas at home, a 10th straight Big 12 title will pretty much become a lock. The Jayhawks can take a three-game lead with four games to play — with a home game against Oklahoma on Monday. Kansas has won 11 of 12 against Texas in Lawrence. The only loss came Jan. 22, 2011, when Texas ended KU’s 69-game home winning streak.
KU must stop dribble penetration, and freshman center Joel Embiid must find a way to score against Texas’ rim protectors. But playing at home, the Jayhawks should be properly motivated to score a payback victory.