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Athletic Longhorns will rely on defense in rematch with KU

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Texas head coach Shaka Smart directs his defense during the second half, Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Texas head coach Shaka Smart directs his defense during the second half, Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Congratulations, Kansas. You just wrapped up at least a share of the Big 12 regular-season title (again). You’re about to be ranked No. 1 in the nation (again). Now get on down to Austin, Texas, on a two-day turnaround to face Shaka Smart’s Longhorns, who already have home victories over North Carolina, Iowa State, Vanderbilt, West Virginia and Oklahoma this season.

Such is life in the Big 12.

Texas (19-10 overall, 10-6) also comes into the Big Monday finale with little rest, but the ’Horns didn’t have any traveling to do after beating Oklahoma at Frank Erwin Center, eliminating their rivals from league title contention.

Smart’s teams get after it defensively, as the Longhorns showed at Allen Fieldhouse last month, when they blocked 8 shots and held KU to 40% shooting.

In Big 12 games, UT leads the league in fewest points allowed (68.2) and 3-point FG% defense (33%). So of course, Texas’ defense carried it against the Sooners on Saturday. The Longhorns went on a massive 22-0 run in the second half, holding OU to 0-for-9 shooting in that stretch — including 0-for-4 for Buddy Heild. Texas out-rebounded Oklahoma by 12 in the win and limited OU to 29% shooting in the second half.

That marquee victory could be topped against KU (25-4, 13-3) on Senior Night for such Longhorns as Javan Felix, Demarcus Holland, Prince Ibeh, Connor Lammert and Cameron Ridley (out, fractured left foot). If Smart can get another inspired defensive showing from his team and keep the Jayhawks constrained, Texas will have a shot at pulling off the first victory over a No. 1-ranked team in program history. The ’Horns already own a 3-0 mark at home against top-10 teams this season.

Kansas, meanwhile, has an outright Big 12 championship at stake. Win this game and West Virginia is out of the picture.

With all of those factors in mind, here are the Longhorns the Jayhawks will have to go through to extend their winning streak to 10 games.

TEXAS STARTERS

No. 1 — PG Isaiah Taylor | 6-3, jr.

Texas guard Isaiah Taylor (1) drives to the basket against Oklahoma guard Jordan Woodard (10) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016, in Austin, Texas. Texas won 76-63. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Texas guard Isaiah Taylor (1) drives to the basket against Oklahoma guard Jordan Woodard (10) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016, in Austin, Texas. Texas won 76-63. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

— Jan. 23 at KU: 13 points, 6/11 FGs, 0/1 3s, 1/2 FTs, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 turnover, 1 steal in 37 minutes

  • UT’s third-year starting point guard, junior Isaiah Taylor leads the team in scoring (15.5 points), assists (5.0), free-throw% (81%), steals (27) and minutes (30.8 mpg).

  • In league games, Taylor has 84 assists to 25 turnovers (3.4 ratio).

  • Put together a pretty impressive day vs. OU: 18 points, 5 assists and 0 turnovers.

  • For all his quickness and ball-handling ability, Taylor hasn’t been a guard who can stretch the floor for UT. He has just 14 successful 3-pointers on 54 tries this season (25.9%). In 16 conference games, Taylor is 8 of 33 (24.2%) from downtown.

No. 3 — G Javan Felix | 5-11, sr.

Texas guard Javan Felix (3) floats a shot over Kansas forward Landen Lucas (33) and guard Frank Mason III (0) during the second half, Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Texas guard Javan Felix (3) floats a shot over Kansas forward Landen Lucas (33) and guard Frank Mason III (0) during the second half, Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

— Jan. 23 at KU: 12 points, 5/12 FGs, 0/2 3s, 2/2 FTs, 1 rebound, 6 assists, 1 turnover, 2 steals in 30 minutes

  • Neck-and-neck with fellow senior Connor Lammert for title of UT’s best 3-point shooter this season, Javan Felix (11.1 points) has made 43 of 119 (36.1%) of his long-range jumpers…

  • … However, Felix has gone cold from deep in conference action, connecting on just 17 of his 65 3-point attempts (26.2%). He hasn’t made more than 1 3-pointer in a game in his past 6 outings (3-for-17, 17.6%).

  • In UT’s 11 games against top-25 competition this year, Felix has averaged 12.2 points and made 27 of 30 free throws.

  • Much like Taylor, Felix takes care of the basketball. With 65 assists and 32 turnovers on the season, he has a 2.0 assist-to-turnover ratio.

  • Scored 14 points against Oklahoma in UT’s big win, but had his worst ball-handling game of the season, with 5 turnovers and just 1 assist.

No. 44 — C Prince Ibeh | 6-11, sr.

TCU forward Devonta Abron (23) is blocked by Texas center Prince Ibeh (44) as he drives to the basket during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2016, in Austin, Texas. Texas won 71-54. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

TCU forward Devonta Abron (23) is blocked by Texas center Prince Ibeh (44) as he drives to the basket during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2016, in Austin, Texas. Texas won 71-54. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

— Jan. 23 at KU: 7 points, 3/4 FGs, 1/3 FTs, 7 rebounds (3 offensive) 3 turnovers, 7 blocks, 1 steal, 4 fouls in 35 minutes

  • An athletic big man capable of wreaking havoc on defense, senior Prince Ibeh (4.1 points) might be salivating at the thought of a KU rematch after he swatted away a career-high 7 shots at Allen Fieldhouse earlier this season. That was the most blocked shots for a KU opponent since Anthony Davis rejected 7 against the Jayhawks in Nov., 2011.

  • In UT’s last 10 games (7-3), Ibeh is averaging 7.1 points, 6.2 boards and 2.2 blocks in 21.4 minutes. In that span, Ibeh is shooting 62.8% from the floor.

  • Ibeh blocked 6 shots in just 16 minutes in UT’s home win over WVU earlier this month.

  • Making 67.9% of his shot attempts in Big 12 play, Ibeh at times is unstoppable in the paint. However, he can and should be fouled when he gets touches down low. Ibeh has made just 14 of 41 free throws (34.1%) against league foes.

  • Went and got 8 offensive rebounds (11 total) and scored 13 points in a victory over Vanderbilt.

No. 21 — F Connor Lammert | 6-10, sr.

None by Big 12 Conference

— Jan. 23 at KU: 15 points, 5/7 FGs, 5/7 3s, 4 rebounds, 1 turnover, fouled out in 30 minutes

  • Although Ibeh is more intimidating, senior big man Connor Lammert (6.9 points, team-leading 5.4 rebounds) actually brings more consistent offensive production.

  • Lammert scored 14 points, burned OU for 4-for-7 shooting from 3-point distance and swiped 2 steals on Saturday.

  • Like Ibeh, Lammert had a career game in UT’s first meeting with Kansas this season: 15 points and 5 3-pointers.

  • As mentioned earlier, Lammert has been one of UT’s best shooters this season, making 44 of 122 3-pointers (36.1%). But he also has maintained that in Big 12 play, unlike Felix. Lamert has hit a team-best 29 3’s against conference opponents on 76 attempts (38.2%).

No. 2 — G Demarcus Holland | 6-3, sr.

None by Big 12 Conference

— Jan. 23 at KU: 0 points, in 4 minutes off the bench

  • More of a team leader than stat producer, senior Demarcus Holland (2.6 points) has 88 career starts, tops on the roster.

  • Has started 3 times in Big 12 contests while logging just 9.9 minutes in 15 games, averaging 1.7 points and making only 32% of his shots.

  • Has gone scoreless in 3 straight games and 5 of the past 6.

  • Shooting 3-for-11 on 3-pointers in Big 12 games.

TEXAS BENCH

No. 10 — G Eric Davis Jr. | 6-2, fr.

None by Dallas Morning News

— Jan. 23 at KU: 13 points, 6/11 FGs, 1/2 3s, 5 rebounds (2 offensive), 1 steal in 21 minutes

  • Freshman Eric Davis (7.9 points) likes the spotlight. In 11 games vs. top-25 teams, the young guard averages 9.6 points and has hit 20 of 38 from beyond the 3-point arc (52.6%).

  • Starting to produce more consistently, Davis scored 10 points vs. Oklahoma, marking his fourth consecutive double-digit scoring game. During that run, he is averaging 11.5 points in 24.0 minutes, with 9 successful 3-pointers on 16 attempts (56.3%).

  • Hitting 35.8% of his 3-pointers in league games: 19 of 53.

No. 0 — G/F Tevin Mack | 6-6, fr.

None by Horns247

— Jan. 23 at KU: 0 points, 0/3 FGs, 0/3 3s, 1 turnover, 1 block in 10 minutes

  • Freshman backup Tevin Mack only plays 14.1 minutes but averages 5.5 points.

  • In his most impressive Big 12 outing to date, Mack hit 5 of his 12 3-pointers, scored 18 points and secured 5 rebounds in a loss at Iowa State.

  • That 3-point performance at ISU was a tad uncharacteristic. In the rest of his 15 league games combined, Mack has made 13 of 48 from long range (27%).

  • Has gone scoreless in back-to-back games, shooting 0-for-7 from the field in combined 21 minutes.

No. 5 — G Kendal Yancy | 6-3, jr.

None by Horns247

— Jan. 23 at KU: 0 points, 0/1 FGs, 0/1 3s, 3 rebounds, 1 assist in 12 minutes as a starter

  • Veteran backup Kendal Yancy (3.3 points) doesn’t take a lot of shots, but he has made 46.8% of his attempts in Big 12 games (22 of 47).

  • The same holds true for Yancy 3-pointers: 9 of 19 (47.4%) vs. the Big 12.

  • Scored a personal season-high 13 points and shot 3-for-4 on 3-pointers in a loss at OU.

No. 12 — G Kerwin Roach Jr. | 6-4, fr.

None by Inside Texas

— Jan. 23 at KU: 5 points, 1/5 FGs, 3/6 FTs, 2 rebounds in 19 minutes

  • Freakishly athletic, freshman Kerwin Roach (7.1 points) is the most likely Longhorn to put a defender in a highlight reel or Vine loop.

  • The more Roach plays the better he looks. In UT’s past 10 games, the first-year guard is averaging 9.9 points and 3.9 rebounds, and making 59.2% of his shots.

  • Had 12 points and 3 rebounds in win over OU.

  • Produced his first career double-double (15 points, 11 rebounds) to go with 2 assists and 4 steals as Texas beat Vanderbilt in the Big 12/SEC Challenge.

  • In 16 Big 12 games, has made 8 of his 21 tries from 3-point range.

  • Registered 2 or more steals 3 times in Big 12 play.

No. 32 — F Shaquille Cleare | 6-8, jr.

— Jan. 23 at KU: 2 points, 1/2 FGs in 3 minutes

  • When you see junior big man Shaquille Cleare (3.4 points) go to work, you’re not surprised to learn the massive post player’s favorite former Longhorn is Dexter Pittman.

  • A transfer from Maryland who sat out last season, Cleare put up a career-best 14 points in a loss to Baylor just over a week ago and pulled down 3 of his 5 rebounds on offense.

  • Making 56.9% of his shot attempts in Big 12 action, while averaging 4.3 points and 2.8 rebounds in 14.3 minutes.

Comments

Ben Kane 3 years, 1 month ago

Every time i read one of these I'm reminded how awful this is formatted for web viewing. this isn't your only issue like this either JW... C'mon Man.

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