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Getting to know: Texas basketball

Kansas guard Malik Newman (14) soars in for a dunk against Texas guard Kerwin Roach II (12) during the second half on Friday, Dec. 29, 2017 at Frank Erwin Center in Austin, Texas.

Kansas guard Malik Newman (14) soars in for a dunk against Texas guard Kerwin Roach II (12) during the second half on Friday, Dec. 29, 2017 at Frank Erwin Center in Austin, Texas. by Nick Krug

Firmly on the bubble with Selection Sunday rapidly approaching, Texas is desperate for signature wins in the final weeks of the regular season.

On the other side, Kansas will try to maintain its spot as a potential one seed and win the Big 12 title outright when the two schools meet at 8 p.m. Monday (TV: ESPN) at Allen Fieldhouse in the Jayhawks’ last home game of the season.

The Longhorns (17-12, 7-9 in Big 12) have won two of their last three games but they could be shorthanded against KU. Starting guard Eric Davis Jr. was sidelined in Saturday’s win over Oklahoma State after he was named in a Yahoo Sports report. The school is investigating whether he received an improper $1,500 payment from a sports agency.

Plus, Mo Bamba was forced to sit out the second half against Oklahoma State because of a sprained left toe.

“It wasn’t a hard decision,” Texas coach Shaka Smart told the Austin American-Statesman of sitting Bamba. “You could tell by the look on his face he didn’t have it. We’ll have to evaluate him moving forward.”

Fun fact: Texas sophomore guard Andrew Jones was diagnosed with leukemia in early January. A fund to support Jones and his family has raised more than $180,000. “I’ve been in a great place lately these last couple of weeks,” Jones said in his first interview since his diagnosis on the Lone Star Sports Network. “I’m going to be back soon.”

Series history: Kansas leads 30-8. The Jayhawks have won the last eight meetings with their last loss in 2014.

BREAKING DOWN TEXAS

TOP PLAYER

No. 4 — F Mohamed Bamba | 6-11, 225, fr.

Texas forward Mohamed Bamba (4) pulls back for an attempted dunk over Kansas guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (10) during the first half on Friday, Dec. 29, 2017 at Frank Erwin Center in Austin, Texas.

Texas forward Mohamed Bamba (4) pulls back for an attempted dunk over Kansas guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (10) during the first half on Friday, Dec. 29, 2017 at Frank Erwin Center in Austin, Texas. by Nick Krug

Bamba ranks second nationally with 107 blocks and in the top 15 with 10.6 rebounds per game. During Big 12 play, the McDonald’s All-American from Harlem is averaging 13.7 points, 10.9 rebounds and 3.5 blocks per game. He’s shooting 54.5 percent from the field and 67.7 percent at the free-throw line.

Featuring a ridiculous 7-foot-9 wingspan, Bamba has recorded nine double-doubles in conference play. He leads the Big 12 in rebounding with 23 more boards than any other play in 16 conference games. He’s connected on 31 percent of his 3-point attempts.

Against KU this season: Nearly recorded a triple-double with 22 points, 15 rebounds and 8 blocks in 34 minutes, shooting 9 of 16 from the field.

  • "I think the biggest thing is the game is slowing down for me," Bamba said. "College is night and day different than high school. One of the most important things is getting in, getting your reps shooting and finding your rhythm."

SUPPORTING CAST

No. 21 — F Dylan Osetkowski | 6-9, 245, jr.

Kansas guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (10) heads to the bucket against Texas forward Dylan Osetkowski (21) during the second half on Friday, Dec. 29, 2017 at Frank Erwin Center in Austin, Texas.

Kansas guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (10) heads to the bucket against Texas forward Dylan Osetkowski (21) during the second half on Friday, Dec. 29, 2017 at Frank Erwin Center in Austin, Texas. by Nick Krug

Playing more than 37 minutes per game in conference play, Osetkowski has a valuable role on both ends of the court. He’s averaging 12.9 points and 6.8 rebounds, leading the Longhorns with 65 free throw attempts once Big 12 play began. Osetkowski (pronounced: oh-set-COW-skee) sat out all of last season after transferring from Tulane.

Against KU this season: Finished with 17 points (7-for-15 shooting) and eight rebounds in 39 minutes.

No. 12— G Kerwin Roach II | 6-4, 180, jr.

Kansas guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (10) and Texas guard Kerwin Roach II (12) compete for a loose ball during the first half on Friday, Dec. 29, 2017 at Frank Erwin Center in Austin, Texas.

Kansas guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (10) and Texas guard Kerwin Roach II (12) compete for a loose ball during the first half on Friday, Dec. 29, 2017 at Frank Erwin Center in Austin, Texas. by Nick Krug

An excellent athlete and two-time Texas state champion in the triple jump during high school, Roach is averaging 12.1 points in Big 12 play with a team-high 21 steals. A strong perimeter defender, he’s shooting 36.1 percent from 3 and ranks second on the team with 49 assists against conference opponents.

Against KU this season: In 38 minutes, he recorded 13 points, seven rebounds and four assists while shooting 5 of 10 from the floor.

No. 2— G Matt Coleman | 6-2, 180, fr.

Kansas guard Lagerald Vick (2) drives against Texas guard Matt Coleman (2) during the first half on Friday, Dec. 29, 2017 at Frank Erwin Center in Austin, Texas.

Kansas guard Lagerald Vick (2) drives against Texas guard Matt Coleman (2) during the first half on Friday, Dec. 29, 2017 at Frank Erwin Center in Austin, Texas. by Nick Krug

A point guard from Oak Hill Academy, Coleman is averaging 10.6 points and 4.4 assists against Big 12 teams. He’s struggled to find his shooting stroke, making 22.7 percent of his attempts from the 3-point line. According to hoop-math.com, Coleman only attempts 25 percent of his shots at the rim.

Against KU this season: Shooting 7 of 14, he had 17 points, six rebounds, five assists and three turnovers in 38 minutes.

No. 20— F Jericho Sims | 6-9, 240, fr.

Texas forward Jericho Sims (20) pulls down a rebound against Kansas State forward James Love III, right, during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Manhattan, Kan., Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018. Kansas State defeated Texas 58-48.

Texas forward Jericho Sims (20) pulls down a rebound against Kansas State forward James Love III, right, during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Manhattan, Kan., Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018. Kansas State defeated Texas 58-48.

Averaging 17 minutes off of the bench in Big 12 play, Sims has made 62.5 percent of his shots on his way to 4.6 points and 3.1 rebounds per game. From Minneapolis, he had two brothers play college basketball, including one at Kansas State. He struggles at the free-throw line, making 13 of his 32 attempts.

Against KU this season: Off the bench, Sims grabbed one rebound in five minutes without attempting a shot.

ONE THING TEXAS DOES WELL

With Bamba protecting the paint, the Longhorns have one of the toughest defenses in the country. According to hoop-math.com, Texas is holding opposing teams to 46.1 percent shooting when they aren’t in transition. That ranks second in the Big 12 only behind Texas Tech’s mark of 45.6 percent.

ONE AREA TEXAS STRUGGLES

The lowest-scoring offense in the Big 12, the Longhorns have problems shooting (42.2 percent, last in conference) and that extends to the free-throw line (69.3 percent) and 3-point arc (32.8 percent). The Longhorns have shot 37 percent or worse in five Big 12 games, all resulting in losses.

MEET THE NEW RECRUITING CLASS

Signing four players in November, the Longhorns’ Class of 2018 is ranked 15th in the country by Rivals. Texas inked 6-foot-7 small forward Gerald Liddell (ranked No. 40), 6-8 power forward Kamaka Hepa (ranked No. 48), 6-9 center Jaxson Hayes (ranked No. 109) and 6-6 forward Brock Cunningham.

Texas will add transfer Elijah Mitrou-Long, brother of former Iowa State standout Naz Mitrou-Long. Elijah Long averaged 15 points in the 2016-17 season at Mount St. Mary’s.

VEGAS SAYS…

Kansas by 9. The Longhorns should play like a team desperately trying to earn a spot in the NCAA Tournament, but it doesn’t help that they are expected to be shorthanded without Eric Davis Jr. and potentially Mo Bamba. I’m going to assume Bamba will try to play through his toe injury but I expect him to be limited. In a festive atmosphere, with the chance to celebrate an outright Big 12 title and honor seniors, I think the Jayhawks will start fast and cruise to a big win.

My prediction: Kansas 78, Texas 62. Bobby’s record vs. the spread: 15-13.

Reply 6 comments from Dirk Medema Matthew Coleman Zabudda Robert  Brock Humpy Helsel

Getting to know: Texas basketball

Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) gets backed up by Texas guard Kerwin Roach Jr. (12) during the first half, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) gets backed up by Texas guard Kerwin Roach Jr. (12) during the first half, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

About two months following the start of the college basketball season, conference play has finally arrived in the Big 12. The Kansas Jayhawks’ road to a 14th-straight conference title begins on the road Friday night against Texas (8 p.m., ESPN2) at the Frank Erwin Center.

The Longhorns (9-3) have won five of their last six games, suffering losses this season to Duke, Gonzaga and Michigan. Their formula this season is dominant defense and scoring inside of the paint.

Andrew Jones, who missed the last four games with a right wrist fracture, is a game-time decision according to Jon Rothstein of Fan Rag Sports. Jones, a sophomore who nearly left for the NBA Draft last spring, is averaging a team-high 15.3 points through eight games while shooting 43 percent from the 3-point line.

In the preseason Big 12 coaches poll, Texas was picked to finish fourth. The Longhorns are unranked in the latest AP poll, but fifth among teams receiving votes outside of the Top 25.

Kansas has won 26 straight conference openers dating back to the 1991-92 season.

Fun fact: Texas freshman point guard Matt Coleman played at Oak Hill Academy alongside KU freshman Billy Preston and Class of 2018 signee David McCormack.

Series history: Kansas leads 29-8. The Jayhawks have won the last seven meetings with their last loss in 2014.

BREAKING DOWN TEXAS

TOP PLAYER

No. 4 — F Mohamed Bamba | 6-11, 225, fr.

Texas forward Mohamed Bamba, left, shoots over Gonzaga forward Johnathan Williams during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in the Phil Knight Invitational tournament in Portland, Ore., Sunday, Nov. 26, 2017.

Texas forward Mohamed Bamba, left, shoots over Gonzaga forward Johnathan Williams during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in the Phil Knight Invitational tournament in Portland, Ore., Sunday, Nov. 26, 2017.

A McDonald’s All-American, Bamba is averaging 10.9 points and 9.8 rebounds while shooting 50 percent from the floor. According to hoop-math.com, he’s made 74.4 percent of shots at the rim.

Entering Big 12 play, Bamba is third in the nation with 4.27 blocks per game. Featuring a ridiculous 7-foot-9 wingspan, he has 15 more blocks than any other player in the conference.

Bamba has four double-doubles this season. From Harlem, N.Y. he hasn’t been able to stretch his range to the 3-point line, making only 3 of his 19 attempts.

  • “He’s a handful,” Alabama coach Avery Johnson said. “He’s a handful in the post. Obviously he’s one of the nation’s top shot-blockers, he takes up a lot of space down there. He helps them with their backline defense to correct mistakes that happen on the perimeter.”

SUPPORTING CAST

No. 21 — F Dylan Osetkowski | 6-9, 245, jr.

Texas forward Dylan Osetkowski (21) drives to the basket over Michigan guard Charles Matthews (1) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017, in Austin, Texas. Michigan won 59-52.

Texas forward Dylan Osetkowski (21) drives to the basket over Michigan guard Charles Matthews (1) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017, in Austin, Texas. Michigan won 59-52.

Osetkowski sat out all of last season after transferring from Tulane. He’s averaging 14.6 points and 7.8 rebounds, shooting 25 percent from the 3-point line. He’s scored 16-plus points in five of his last six games.

His older brother, Cory, played basketball at Columbia University. Osetkowski (pronounced: oh-set-COW-skee) averaged 11.3 points and 8.3 rebounds in his sophomore season at Tulane. He only had two scholarship offers out of high school.

No. 12— G Kerwin Roach II | 6-4, 180, jr.

Texas guard Kerwin Roach Jr. (12) passes the ball as Kansas' Landen Lucas, left, and Josh Jackson (11) defend during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 25, 2017, in Austin, Texas. Kansas won 77-67.

Texas guard Kerwin Roach Jr. (12) passes the ball as Kansas' Landen Lucas, left, and Josh Jackson (11) defend during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 25, 2017, in Austin, Texas. Kansas won 77-67.

Averaging 10.9 points and 3.0 assists per game, Roach is making a team-best 82.1 percent of his shots at the rim, according to hoop-math.com. Roach is one of the Longhorns’ top perimeter defenders, snagging a team-best 16 steals.

From North Shore High in Texas, Roach played on the same high school basketball team as KU football standout Dorance Armstrong. He won two Texas state championships in the triple jump, including a jump of 50 feet, 8 inches in a meet on the UT campus.

ONE THING TEXAS DOES WELL

The Longhorns rank seventh in the nation in scoring defense, holding opponents to 60.4 points per game. Only Duke, Gonzaga and VCU have scored more than 60 points against them. With Bamba in the paint to protect the rim, Texas guards can spend their time guarding the 3-point line. Opposing teams are only shooting 28.2 percent from behind the arc and 37.4 percent from the field.

ONE AREA TEXAS STRUGGLES

Texas is one of the worst 3-point shooting teams in the country through its first 12 games of the season. The Longhorns are making a lowly 27.8 percent from the 3-point line and they are missing their best outside shooter, sophomore Andrew Jones, because of a fractured wrist.

MEET THE COACH

Texas head coach Shaka Smart calls a play during the second half, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Texas head coach Shaka Smart calls a play during the second half, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

In his third season with Texas, Shaka Smart earned his 200th career coaching victory in early December. He coached for six seasons at VCU, which included a run to the Final Four in 2011. Six of his eight previous teams have advanced to the NCAA Tournament.

VEGAS SAYS…

Kansas by 4. The Longhorns will present a tough defensive challenge for the Jayhawks, especially with their ability to guard the 3-point line. In their past six games, the Longhorns have allowed more than 60 points once. Even if KU is held below its scoring average, can Texas fight off its own scoring troubles?

My prediction: Kansas 68, Texas 59. Bobby’s record vs. the spread: 6-5.

Reply 3 comments from West_virginia_hawk Zabudda Dirk Medema

Former KU recruit Jarrett Allen fed off energy in Allen Fieldhouse

Kansas guard Josh Jackson (11) and Kansas guard Devonte' Graham battle for a rebound with Texas forward Jarrett Allen (31) during the second half, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Josh Jackson (11) and Kansas guard Devonte' Graham battle for a rebound with Texas forward Jarrett Allen (31) during the second half, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Flashback to last fall and Jarrett Allen was on an official visit to Allen Fieldhouse, envisioning himself playing for the Kansas Jayhawks.

After Saturday, all of the fans in Lawrence were left wondering what could have been. Allen posted the best performance of his young collegiate career during a 79-67 loss to the Jayhawks, leaving everyone in awe of his potential.

He scored 22 points on 9-of-14 shooting with 19 rebounds (seven offensive). It was the most boards by a KU opponent since 2004.

“I was really pumped up,” said Allen, who set career highs in points, rebounds and field goals. “The whole team was pumped up. I just fed off everybody’s energy. I mean it’s Kansas — the No. 1 or 2 team in the country. And then playing at Allen Fieldhouse, you just hear rumors about how loud it’s going to be, so I just got excited to play.”

Allen chose the Longhorns over KU and Houston. He didn’t end his recruitment until June and the Jayhawks had plenty of depth in the front court with Landen Lucas, Carlton Bragg, Mitch Lightfoot, Dwight Coleby and Udoka Azubuike.

“Everybody knows now why we wanted him so badly,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “He’s not only a great college player, but he’ll be a great pro, too.”

Along with playing in the fieldhouse, where he once sat in the crowd, Allen was familiar with Josh Jackson, the top-ranked recruit from his class. He remembered playing against Jackson once on the AAU circuit and they were teammates in the McDonald’s All-American game.

But when the ball tipped in the air to open the game, the 6-foot-11 Allen said he didn’t spend any time thinking about playing against Jackson. The two five-star freshmen even guarded each other at times because of KU’s four-guard lineup.

“In my head, the matchup wasn’t a big thing for me,” Allen said. “I just wanted to go out and play.”

When the Longhorns (7-12, 1-6 Big 12) tried to make a run in the second half, they turned to Allen. He showcased everything in his arsenal. He swished mid-range jumpers. He wasn’t afraid to fight for space in the paint. He scored on put-back attempts.

He’s still thin at 235 pounds, but his star has brightened during Big 12 play. He’s scored at least 17 points in the past four games.

The only thing that stopped him midway through the second half was a leg injury. Allen thinks he landed on another player’s foot going for an offensive rebound. He was helped off of the court by his teammates and had to go to the locker room, but returned with under eight minutes remaining.

“In the second half Jarrett just dominated us,” Self said.

Allen, a Round Rock, Texas native, recorded a double-double in the first half with 10 points and 10 rebounds. That included a buzzer-beating turnaround jumper, cutting UT’s deficit to six points at the intermission.

“That was the Jarrett that I’ve been waiting to see,” Texas freshman guard Andrew Jones said.

Allen, who was averaging 11.9 points and 7.8 rebounds, said the biggest change was playing aggressive — “There’s a difference between playing hard and being aggressive,” he said.

Then there was the Allen Fieldhouse factor. Allen said sitting in the crowd doesn't compare to playing on the court. Did his first game inside of Allen Fieldhouse live up to the hype?

“When you go out there, like during warmups, you just feel the energy of people walking in,” Allen said. “You don’t feel that anywhere else.”

Reply 7 comments from Jayhawkmarshall RJ King Surrealku Mallory Briggans Katie Bieber Tim Orel