Radio: Jayhawk Radio
There are three games on the Big 12 slate tonight, none is more important than KU @ Texas A&M.
The Jayhawks are now in the driver’s seat in the Big 12 race, thanks to rival Kansas State doing KU a favor, beating Mizzou in Columbia last night. But, KU must avoid the same fate as Mizzou tonight when they go to College Station. Last time the Tigers were upset (79-72 at Oklahoma State), Kansas did the Tigers a favor and lose their next game (at Iowa State). Will it happen again?
Bill Self and his players have been saying the right things about staying focused and not looking ahead to Missouri game – that could lose some of its luster thanks to MU’s loss.
“I don’t know if I read into the overlooking or that kind of stuff,” Self said Saturday after KU’s 83-50 Texas Tech win. “I do know this: We will not mention Missouri except to tell them that we won’t mention Missouri until after the game, and then we can talk about it all they want to.”
Kansas fans and students have been camping out since the weekend waiting for the Mizzou game.
“I didn’t even notice them; but no, the Missouri game is two games away so we have to worry about A&M right now and I’m not even worried about Missouri,” Thomas Robinson said.
Lawrence Journal World: Jayhawks vow: First things first
NBC Sports: Kansas focused on Texas A&M as Mizzou looms
But, it should be easy for Self to motivate his players for tonight – point to Missouri.
Fortunately, for Kansas, Texas A&M isn’t very good. But, like everyone, they are more dangerous at home, but they are just 3-4 in Big 12 play in College Station. Three of the losses were close ones to Baylor, Texas and Missouri. So, they are capable. And they are getting more capable by the game. Khris Middleton has played the last two games – scoring 15 Saturday against Mizzou, and point guard Dash Harris returns. Neither played in Lawrence when the Aggies just lost by 10.
“You’re playing two great teams back-to-back,” aTm Billy Kennedy said. “We competed well at Kansas. They’ve been great on the road. We’ll have to play very well here to give ourselves a chance, but we’ve been playing well at home.”
A&M is the slowest team in the league averaging just over 62 possessions per game. Not only do they slow the game down, they flat out can’t score at times. They are 9th in the league in points per possession and are eighth or worse in turnover%, offensive rebounding%, FT Rate, 2 pt%, FT%, block%.
“It started with Billy (Gillespie). He always tried to muddy the game up and then Turg (Mark Turgeon) was the same way,” Self added. “Of course, with Billy Kennedy, in our first game against them (Texas A&M) here, we labored to make a basket, but they did too. It’s got a Big 10-middle-of-the-season type feel to it.”
“I do think if you don’t play well, you have to find some way to make them (A&M) not play well also. A&M is very good about not letting their opponent not play well…Long possessions and not giving up easy baskets. Those are things everybody strives for, but they are better at it than others. The other thing is they will use the shot clock offensively. A lot of times with teams that score points, the best offense is to not let the other team have the basketball for a long period of time.”
They are also one of the league’s top defensive teams and frustrated Jeff Withey and Thomas Robinson, slowing both down. Robinson made his living at the free throw line, where he went 10-10.
“We just have to work our offense; don’t try to take early shots and don’t try to score on the first side,” Self said “Even good defensive teams break down if you go deep into the shot clock and you work your offense. Our offense is pretty good so I think if we run it all the way through we can get some good looks.”
It is one of those types of games where they muddy it up and sag in the paint (defensively). They won’t let you get open shots, but they play you to be a three-point shooting team. We have to be patient offensively and still aggressive.
They are a good defensive team so I am sure it will be a low possession game that we will have to grind out.”
Kansas State gave KU a big chance tonight. Now, its up to KU to take it.
They should, leading the all-time series 17-1. A&M has also lost 10 in a row to ranked opponents.
“We understand every game is important to win the championship. Every game matters to win the Big 12,” Taylor said. “You can’t play one team, beat them and you win. You have to hold serve at home, you have to get some on the road, and just play hard every night.”
|Avg Points Allowed||60.4||60.2|
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In other action, Oklahoma (13-13, 3-11 Big 12) hosts Oklahoma State (13-14, 6-8) tonight, at 7 in Bedlam. Does anyone outside Oklahoma State care? OSU has played well at home, while Oklahoma has lost six in a row – including Texas Tech’s only league win – and eight of nine.
Speaking of the Red Raiders (8-18, 1-13) heads to Iowa State (19-8, 9-5). Fred Hoiberg has the Clones playing their best ball in years. They have won five of their last seven, and five in a row at home for the first time in eight years. Royce White has scored less than 10 points in three straight games, but they have still went 2-1.