ESPN’s “GameDay” crew, which plans to air pre-game shows in both Wichita and Lawrence today, forecast snow be darned, definitely will have a lot to talk about prior to the 4 p.m. Kansas University-Texas contest in Allen Fieldhouse.
First, some possible chatter regarding the visitors from Austin, Texas:
— Coach Rick Barnes today is shooting for his 400th victory at UT. The 17th-year Longhorn mentor takes a 399-177 record into today’s contest.
— This year’s Longhorn squad, however, is 17-11 overall and 6-9 in the Big 12 and appears to be on the outside for an NCAA Tournament berth, with games remaining against KU, Baylor and Kansas State. That’s pretty crazy considering KU coach Bill Self picked Texas first in the preseason Big 12 coaches poll.
“Probably, yes,” Self said, asked if he was surprised by UT’s conference record. “I mean, there are so many close games in our league and games that can go either way, I don’t know that you can really be surprised or shocked by anything that happens in our league.
“Texas goes to West Virginia its last game and plays terrific. They got behind just like we did at West Virginia. Came back, had a chance in the last two minutes (of 71-64 loss). West Virginia is playing really well right now. They (Longhorns) are playing well. They’ll be hungry playing us for high stakes on Saturday.”
West Virginia fans, by the way, chanted “NIT, NIT” in the latter stages of that contest.
Some possible talking points regarding the (22-6, 11-4) Jayhawks:
— KU, which has a 4-3 record in February, today officially celebrates its 60th season in Allen Fieldhouse. The Jayhawks will be wearing adidas-designed “Heritage Classic” uniforms to honor the 1988 NCAA title team. There will be various fieldhouse video tributes during timeouts.
— KU, which last lost a league home game during the 2012-13 season (to Oklahoma State), needs only to defeat Texas today and West Virginia on Tuesday in Allen to assure at least a tie for an 11th straight Big 12 title.
“Players like putting on a new uniform, but it’s not that big a deal. But having ‘GameDay’ here and playing Texas, knowing what’s potentially at stake, I think everybody should be pretty excited,” Self said.
A final topic for GameDay’s Rece Davis, Jay Bilas, Jay Williams and Stephen A. Smith might not only be their drive from Wichita to Lawrence in possible snowy conditions, but the KU-Texas rivalry.
The Jayhawks, who defeated UT, 75-62, on Jan. 24, in Austin, have won seven of the last eight meetings and 10 of 12. The teams have met in four of the last eight Big 12 championship title games, with KU winning all four.
In a pair of classic games, KU went 2-0 versus UT in the 2006-07 season, Kevin Durant’s sole season in Austin. Durant had 32 points (25 in first half) in KU’s 90-86 win in Lawrence and 37 points in KU’s 88-84 overtime win in the Big 12 tourney title game. KU trailed Texas by 16 points in Allen and 22 in Oklahoma City.
Durant has since told Self he appreciated KU’s fans cheering him as he returned from the locker room after suffering a sprained ankle in the game in Lawrence.
“I think he had 25 or 26 at our place in the first half. Danny (Manning, former KU assistant) who was a good player here ... I said, ‘What do you think?’ He said, ‘He’s the baddest man who ever played on this floor.’
“Danny was pretty good. Wilt (Chamberlain) wasn’t bad, either,” Self added with a smile. “Then we played them and they had us down 32-10 with eight minutes left in the first half. Durant had 22 of them. He had us down, 22-10 himself. Yes, he was amazing.
“Texas with Kevin, with LaMarcus (Aldridge), Tristan Thompson. There’s been some great great players. They have (Cameron) Ridley and (Myles) Turner and those guys. They can really play.”
Point guard Isaiah Taylor leads Texas in scoring at 13.4 ppg. Freshman standout Turner averages 11.2 points and 6.5 boards and leads the league in blocks at 2.6 per game.
KU, of course, recruited 6-11 Bedford, Texas, native Turner heavily.
“He’s playing closer to the basket maybe than what he was the first time we played them (Turner had eight points, eight boards vs. KU in Austin). He’s hard to guard in there because he gets his shot off so quick. It’s too quick, you can’t trap it,” Self said.
“They still have as imposing a team or front line as anybody in America with maybe the exception of Kentucky. I like their team. They need to play well down the stretch, obviously. That’s not me saying anything other than the obvious. They’re so capable of beating anybody. They have been a little inconsistent, as we have.”
Taylor, 6-1 sophomore from Hayward, California, had 23 points in the initial meeting.
“Everyone has to get back. It starts with me,” KU point guard Frank Mason III said. “Don’t let him get a head of steam. Don’t let him get on my heels in transition. For me, try to keep him out of the paint, get through ball screens. He has a very good floater game. He shoots through all kind of angles, different ways, falling down. He’s quick too. He’s a tough point guard once he gets that going,” Mason added.
This, that: Game time for the KU-Oklahoma game has been set for 3 p.m., a week from today, in Norman, Oklahoma. .... Texas’ team had no travel problems Friday and practiced in Allen on Friday night.
GameDay: Self commented on GameDay being at both WSU for its game against Northern Iowa and KU today. The GameDay show in Lawrence will run from 3 to 4 p.m.
“That will be as big a conference game as the (Missouri) Valley has seen, who knows, in maybe decades,” Self said. “You have two top teams playing with the winner taking all. That place will be jumping.
“You would think that our situation would be pretty festive, as well, with the things that we have in front of us that could potentially take place if we play well. It will be great for our state. The play in the Big 12 has brought a lot of positive recognition to our league nationally. This will be a chance to bring it to our state, which I think will be a big bonus not only for our program but Wichita State’s, as well.
Money talk: The Dallas Morning News lists salaries of all Big 12 coaches on its Website. On the men’s side, Bill Self leads the league coaches in guaranteed compensation per season at $3,856,000, followed by West Virginia’s Bob Huggins ($3,250,000), Oklahoma’s Lon Kruger ($2,750,000), Oklahoma State’s Travis Ford ($2,625,000), UT’s Barnes ($2,485,000), Iowa State’s Fred Hoiberg ($2,200,000), K-State’s Bruce Weber ($1,850,000), and Texas Tech’s Tubby Smith ($1,700,000). Salaries for Baylor’s Scott Drew and TCU’s Trent Johnson were not available.
On the women’s side, OU’s Sherri Coale is first in guaranteed compensation per year at $1,100,000, followed by ISU’s Bill Fennelly ($625,000), WVU’s Mike Carey ($525,000), KSU’s Jeff Mittie ($515,000), KU’s Bonnie Henrickson ($505,000), UT’s Karen Aston ($500,000), TTU’s Candi Whitaker ($375,000), and OSU’s Jim Littell ($350,000). Salaries of BU’s Kim Mulkey and TCU’s Raegan Pebley were unavailable.
TEXAS (17-11, 6-9)
F — Jonathan Holmes (6-8, Sr.)
C — Cameron Ridley (6-9, Jr.)
G — Kendal Yancy (6-3, Soph.)
G — Isaiah Taylor (6-1, Soph.)
G — Demarcus Holland (6-2, Jr.)
KANSAS (22-6, 11-4)
F — Perry Ellis (6-8, Jr.)
F — Cliff Alexander (6-8, Fr.)
G — Frank Mason III (5-11, Soph.)
G — Wayne Selden Jr. (6-5, Soph.)
G — Kelly Oubre Jr. (6-7, Fr.)