Kansas has claimed at least a share of the last 10 Big 12 regular-season titles, although the challenge of winning another will be no easy task considering six of the league’s 10 teams currently find themselves among the top 25. Two of them square off on Saturday when the 14th-ranked Jayhawks visit No. 18 Texas. Kansas followed last Saturday’s 86-81 loss at No. 12 Iowa State with a thrilling 85-78 home win versus No. 20 Oklahoma, rallying late after blowing a 20-point first-half lead.
The Jayhawks have won six of their last seven against the Longhorns, although their two meetings last year produced drastically different results. Texas cruised to an 81-69 victory at home on Feb. 1 before closing 2013-14 with a 7-7 finish, which included Kansas’ 85-54 rout three weeks later that served as the Longhorns’ largest margin of defeat since 2005. Texas has rebounded nicely since back-to-back losses to Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, pounding No. 17 West Virginia by 27 at home last Saturday before defeating TCU by 18 on the road two days later.
TV: 2 p.m. ET, CBS
WHAT CAPPERS SAY: “Kansas has not played good basketball in their four true road games. The Jayhawks are just 2-2 SU in those games with their two wins coming by just 1 and 5 points. Kansas has been underdogs in three of those four games as well. Texas will be the best defensive team Kansas has faced on the road, so the Longhorns will certainly be a tough test for the Jayhawks. Texas is holding opponents to just 55.2 points per game on 33.5% shooting from the field on their home court this season. Kansas has a history of struggling in slow, half-court games under head coach Bill Self, and that’s what they are going to face against Texas in this game.” – Covers Expert Steve Merril
ABOUT KANSAS (15-3 SU, 11-6 ATS, 10-6 O/U): Frank Alexander (8.3 points, 5.8 rebounds), who was benched for most of the second half of Monday’s loss due to inconsistent effort, provided 13 boards – including a season-high seven offensive rebounds – in 23 minutes on Monday. “Let’s be honest, Perry (Ellis) and Jamari (Traylor) are great, but they don’t give us the physical presence like Cliff potentially does. We need that, it changes our team,” coach Bill Self told the Kansas City Star. Fellow freshman Kelly Oubre Jr. (8.6 points) took about a month to earn regular playing time, but is averaging 13.7 points over his last nine games after failing to crack double digits in any of his first nine contests.
ABOUT TEXAS (14-4 SU, 10-6 ATS, 3-8 O/U): The Longhorns figure to challenge Alexander’s motor as much as any team can in the conference as they rank second in the nation in blocks (7.7) and rebounding margin (plus-12.2) and third in field-goal percentage defense (34.4). Much of the credit for those gaudy marks goes to 6-11 freshman Myles Turner (team-leading averages of 11.8 points, 6.8 rebounds and a conference-best 2.7 blocks) and 6-9 forward Cameron Ridley (8.7 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.8 blocks). Isaiah Taylor (11.4 points), who went 10-of-40 from the field in his first four games back from a broken left wrist, tallied 13 points on 6-of-12 shooting on Monday to go along with seven boards and six assists.
*Jayhawks are 6-1 ATS in their last 7 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600
*Longhorns are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 home games.
*Over is 18-6 in Jayhawks last 24 games following a ATS win.
*Under is 5-1 in Longhorns last 6 vs. a team with a winning S.U. record.