Getting to know: Texas basketball (Big 12 Tournament)
For the first time since 2004, Kansas will be the No. 3 seed in the Big 12 Tournament this week. It ended a 10-season run for Kansas (23-8) as the No. 1 seed.
The Jayhawks, who are the defending conference tournament champions, have won 11 such crowns in the Big 12 era. A deep run this year could go a long way for KU, which had its 14-year stretch of regular-season titles snapped by Kansas State and Texas Tech.
Texas, the No. 6 seed, will be the first-round matchup for Kansas at the Sprint Center. The Longhorns (16-15) are in desperate need of a win, as no .500 team has ever made it to the NCAA tournament as an at-large selection.
In the two-game set between these two teams this year, both Texas and Kansas won its respective home contest. KU bested UT by a an 80-78 margin on Jan. 19 in Allen Fieldhouse before dropping a 73-63 defeat in the rematch on Jan. 29.
Tipoff is set for approximately 8:30 p.m.
Series history: In a series that dates back to 1938, Kansas leads Texas 32-9, including a 4-1 record in the Big 12 Championship with the last meeting a KU 85-73 win in the 2011 championship game.
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BREAKING DOWN TEXAS
No. 12 — G Kerwin Roach II | 6-4, sr.
Roach’s return comes at an inopportune time for the Jayhawks.
After serving a five-game suspension for an undisclosed violation of team rules, the Longhorns’ leading scorer will make his return when his team is in a must-win situation. Roach leads Texas in scoring with an average of 15.0 points per game. He’s also third on the team in assists and second steals, despite playing 24 of the team’s 31 games.
Roach has scored in double figures in 12 consecutive games, including two meetings with Kansas, dating back to Jan. 8. Over that span, Roach has notched at least 15 points in 10 of his 12 outings.
No. 10 — F Jaxson Hayes | 6-11, fr.
Hayes is not only the best pro prospect on his team, but he might be one of the best in the entire Big 12 conference.
In his freshman season, Hayes is averaging 10.3 points and 5.1 rebounds per game. Hayes was named the league’s Freshman of the Year, becoming the sixth UT player to earn the accolade. Myles Turner was the last Texas rookie to do it, earning the honor during the 2014-15 season.
Hayes has converted on 73.2 percent of his shots this year. The UT single-season record for field percentage is 65.4 percent, which was accomplished by Dexter Pittman in 2009-10. Of his 123 made field goals, 74 have been dunks.
No. 2 — G Matt Coleman III | 6-2, so.
The UT sophomore point guard earned all-Big 12 honorable mention accolades for his play this season.
Coleman leads the team and ranks fifth in the Big 12 in assists with an average of 3.7 assists per game. He’s also posted a 72-28 assists-to-turnover ratio (2.79) in league play. As a team, the Longhorns have commited just an average of 11.1 turnovers per contest this season.
Coleman is also one of four players to average in double figures, scoring 10.2 points per game.
No. 21 — F Dylan Osetkowski | 6-9, sr.
Osetkowski, who is in his second season at Texas and fifth year of college basketball, has started in 64 of his possible 65 career games.
This season, Osetkowski leads the team in rebounding with an average of 7.4 rebounds per contest and is second in the Big 12. He’s also averaging 10.2 points per contest, playing 28.8 minutes per outing.
Against Kansas on Jan. 29, Osetkowski posted a team-high 16 points on 10 shots and three assists in 35 minutes. He also scored 11 points and collected nine rebounds in 29 minutes against KU on Jan. 14.
ONE THING TEXAS DOES WELL
The Longhorns do a good job taking care of the rock. This season, they are posting a 16.6 turnover rate on the offensive end. That mark ranks 52nd in all of college basketball.
ONE AREA TEXAS STRUGGLES
Texas does not defend the perimeter well, and that’s an area KU has tried to take advantage of as of late. UT is allowing opposing teams to shoot 36.7 percent from long range, which ranks 298th in the country.
MEET THE COACH
Texas is coached by Shaka Smart, who is 66-65 in his fourth season at UT and 229-121 in his 10th year overall. Texas is 2-1 on neutral courts this season.
According to Action Network, Kansas is a 2.5-point favorite over Texas as of Thursday afternoon. With a line that small, I’m taking the Jayhawks. I think the players know how important this week is, and a KU-friendly crowd will certainly help the freshmen in their first postseason contest of the year.
My prediction: Kansas 75, Texas 70