TEXAS LONGHORNS (11-13)
at KANSAS JAYHAWKS (20-4)
Allen Fieldhouse - Lawrence, KS
Tip-off: Saturday, 9:00 p.m. ET
Line: Kansas -13.5, Total: 132
After stopping its surprising three-game losing skid on Monday, No. 14 Kansas will look to keep it going against a sub-.500 Texas team on Saturday night.
Texas has had a dreadful season, but its star PG Myck Kabongo finally made his season debut on Wednesday, and helped lead his team to an 89-86 win versus Iowa State in double overtime. Kabongo scored 13 points with seven assists in that victory, but now he's tasked with helping the Longhorns win their first true road game of the season, as they are 0-7 SU on the road, losing these games by 12.1 PPG. Kansas is 12-1 SU (6-6 ATS) at home this season, and is coming off an 83-62 pounding of No. 10 Kansas State in its most recent game. Although the Jayhawks are 10-2 SU in the past dozen meetings of this series, the 'Horns are 4-1 ATS in the past five contests, which includes a stunning 74-63 win at Allen Fieldhouse two years ago when they were a 7-point underdog.
Can Kansas cover the huge spread against the Longhorns? For the answer, connect to College Basketball Best Bets for all the Expert picks throughout the entire 2012-13 season. The experts have been red-hot in college basketball Best Bets, as StatFox Scott is 60% ATS (9-6) since Feb. 8, while StatFox Gary is also 60% ATS (12-8-2) in the past 12 days, improving to an impressive 56.2% ATS (82-64-3) Best Bets mark for the season. StatFox Dave is 53% ATS (32-29-1) since Jan. 28 to boost his season win percentage to 52.4% ATS (131-119-4).
Texas is a horrible offensive basketball team with just 64.5 PPG (247th in nation) and a woeful 41.4% FG clip (265th in D-I). But the Longhorns lead the nation in both FG Pct. defense (36.1%) and three-point defense (26.1%), which is why they are 6-2 ATS in their past eight contests. Sophomore swingman Sheldon McClellan (14.5 PPG, 4.3 RPG) is coming off a big performance in Wednesday's victory over Iowa State, scoring 18 points (5-of-10 FG, 8-for-8 FT) with eight rebounds. But he continues to misfire from long range, going 0-for-3 from behind the arc, to make him 11-for-53 (21%) on threes since Dec. 8. McClellan had a game-high 18 points against Kansas on Jan. 19, but was just 8-of-18 from the floor with one rebound and one assist in 28 minutes of action. Sophomore SG Julien Lewis (10.5 PPG, 3.2 APG) scored 11 points with seven rebounds in that game, but has struggled to find his shooting rhythm lately with a paltry 8.5 PPG on 12-of-40 FG (30%) over his past four contests. Kabongo, who was suspended by the NCAA for the first 23 games of the season after lying about taking impermissible benefits, wasted no time getting back to action on Wednesday. He logged 35 minutes before fouling out, compiling 13 points, seven assists and four rebounds, but also had four turnovers and made just 1-of-5 threes. He was horrible in the two games versus Kansas last season, scoring a total of three points on 1-of-11 shooting. He failed to score, going 0-for-7 FG (0-for-3 threes) in the loss at Lawrence, but did dish out six assists. But for Texas to keep this game close, its big men will have to step up. Sophomore F Jonathan Holmes (7.5 PPG, 6.8 RPG) is finally back healthy after breaking a bone in his hand on Jan. 21. The injury forced him to miss five games, but he returned to the court on Wednesday, scoring a paltry four points in 18 minutes before fouling out. He also fouled out of last month's loss to Kansas in just 14 minutes, but was still able to score 10 points on 4-of-5 FG. Freshman PF Ioannis Papapetrou (8.4 PPG, 4.7 RPG) has played solid basketball in the past four games (13.0 PPG, 6.8 RPG) but posted a subpar six points and five rebounds in 30 minutes of action against the Jayhawks last month.
Although Kansas scores 73.5 PPG (49th in nation) on an efficient 46.9% FG (32nd in D-I), the team had reached 70 points just once in nine games before exploding for 83 points against Kansas State on Monday. Freshman SG Ben McLemore (16.8 PPG, 5.5 RPG) scored 30 points on 9-of-13 FG (6-of-10 threes) with seven rebounds and three steals versus the Wildcats, marking his 12th straight game with at least 10 points. McLemore also had a team-high 16 points while grabbing six rebounds in the win in Austin last month. C Jeff Withey (13.2 PPG, 8.3 RPG) also had a well-rounded stat line of 14 points (4-of-6 FG), nine rebounds, four assists and three blocks in that victory over the Longhorns. He dominated KSU too, with 17 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks, upping his season average to 4.1 BPG, good for third in the nation. In each of his past eight games, Withey has at least 11 points and six rebounds. PG Elijah Johnson (9.1 PPG, 4.6 APG) continues to shoot horribly in his senior season with a career-worst 36.5% FG. In his past four games, he's made just 10-of-43 shots (23%), and was a dreadful 1-of-11 FG in the victory over Texas on Jan. 19. But fellow senior G Travis Releford has been red-hot all season, making 59.4% FG and 43.3% threes. Another senior that is key to the success of this team is Kevin Young (7.7 PPG, 6.8 RPG) who had a big game on Monday with 13 points (6-of-9 FG) and nine rebounds.