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Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Kansas-TCU women’s hoops preview

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When: 7 p.m. today

Where: Allen Fieldhouse

Who: TCU

Series: Tied 4-4

Offense on the rise After suffering through a mid-season slump in which they were held to fewer than 50 points in 10 consecutive games, the Jayhawks recently have shown signs of life on offense. KU has topped the half-century mark in two of its past three games, including a 67-point outing in last weekend’s loss at Kansas State. The point total was the most by Kansas since scoring 71 in a 15-point loss to St. John’s on Dec. 6 and tied for the team’s third highest output this season. "Well, we executed better, especially in the second half against a variety of zones,” first-year KU coach Brandon Schneider said. “We saw a 3-2, we saw a 2-3, we saw some triangle-and-2. We didn't read the defense and take very good care of the ball in the first half, but I thought we did some good things.” KU is now averaging 43 points per game in Big 12 Conference play.

The good with the bad TCU enters tonight’s game ranked last in the Big 12 in scoring defense, giving up an average of 67 points per game to Big 12 foes. That should be good news for the Jayhawks and their improving offense. But if KU can’t take care of things on the defensive end, it might not matter. TCU is shooting 39.1 percent from three-point land this season and will be facing a Kansas team that ranks last in the Big 12 in three-point defense. Kansas and TCU, which will play again in Fort Worth, Texas, to close out the regular season on Feb. 29, rank ninth and 10th in the Big 12 in rebounding margin.

Thanks, but I’ll pass KU forward Caelynn Manning-Allen, for the first time this season, led the Jayhawks with five assists in the loss to K-State, rounding out an all-around effort by the 6-4 junior. In 19 minutes, she scored just four points and grabbed two rebounds but also dished the team-high five dimes and swiped three steals. Manning-Allen is now averaging 7.8 points per game and 5.4 rebounds per game during his first year as a full-time starter. Manning-Allen’s five-assist effort marked the first time since Jan. 9 that the forward recorded a single assist in a game, a streak of seven consecutive games without an assist.

Streaking: Junior guard Timeka O’Neal helped lead KU’s impressive bench production by pouring in 18 points on 6-of-12 shooting in last weekend’s loss at Kansas State. All six of O’Neal’s field goal makes came from behind the three-point line and the fourth-year junior is now shooting .393 from three-point range on the season. O’Neal played 27 minutes in the loss to the Wildcats, marking just the second time all season that she topped 25 minutes in a game.

Slumping: KU’s ball security. The Jayhawks’ 20 turnovers last Saturday at Kansas State extended a streak of six consecutive games in which KU has turned it over 20 times or more. The last time Kansas enjoyed a game with fewer than 20 give-aways came against K-State at home on Jan. 20, when the Wildcats forced KU to turn it over just 13 times in a K-State victory. Kansas is averaging 18 turnovers per game this season, giving it up 1.8 times more per outing than its opponents.

Probable starters

Kansas (5-19 overall, 0-13 Big 12)

G — Lauren Aldridge, 5-7, so.

G — Aisia Robertson, 5-7, fr.

G — Kylee Kopatich, 5-10, fr.

G — Chayla Cheadle, 6-0, so.

F — Caelynn Manning-Allen, 6-4, jr.

TCU (13-11 overall, 5-8 Big 12)

G — AJ Alix, 5-6, so.

G — Zahna Medley, 5-6, sr.

G — Veja Hamilton, 5-10, sr.

F — Jada Butts, 5-10, jr.

C — Carol Willie, 6-2, jr.

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