By Wendell Barnhouse | firstname.lastname@example.org
Flash forward to Saturday: No. 11 Texas at No. 2 Kansas (3 p.m., CBS) has all the ingredients for a great game.
Flash forward to next season: In the 10-team Big 12 Conference, league basketball schedules will expand to 18 games with each team playing a home-and-home schedule. Which means games like UT-KU will be played twice a season.
But for this season, let’s focus on Saturday’s game. Both the Jayhawks and the Longhorns warmed up with impressive, dominating victories. Kansas played a nearly perefect first half and won at Baylor, 85-65, Monday night. Texas handed 10th-ranked Texas A&M its first Big 12 loss with an 81-60 beat down in Austin.
“Texas is very impressive,” Kansas coach Bill Self said after watching the Longhorns end the Aggies’ 13-game winning streak. “They played great against a one-loss team. I really like their talent. They’re a terrific team. They are playing awfully well together.
“It’s going to be an unbelievable game.”
Texas coach Rick Barnes returned the compliment.
“They’re best team in America, from what I’ve seen,” Barnes said of Kansas. “They have it all.”
Self is impressed with how well Texas plays defense – both as a team and as individuals. He also senses that this season’s team has a tighter bond than last season’s which went from No. 1 in January to losing an NCAA Tournament first-round game in March.
Despite being ranked 11th, the Longhorns are a bit of a surprise after losing three starters to the NBA Draft. The improved all-around play of sophomore Jordan Hamilton along with the contributions of freshmen Tristan Thompson and Cory Joseph have made the Longhorns dangerous.
“We just beat a Top 10 team by 20 points,” senior forward Gary Johnson said after Wednesay’s victory over Texas A&M. “I think that says we’re just a little bit ready.”
“I love where we are now. I think flying under the radar is a good position for any team. Last year we were at the top, and it wasn’t good. If I had it my way we’d be unranked for the rest of the year.”
Texas-Kansas by the numbers
Victories by Texas in nine games in Allen Field House.
Total points differential in two of Texas’ three losses to Top 10 teams Pittsburgh (68-66) and Connecticut (82-81 in overtime).
Consecutive losses by Kansas in games televised by CBS.
3-point field goals allowed by Texas on 40 attempts by three Big 12 opponents.
Shooting percentage for Texas in its victory over Texas A&M.
Shooting percentage for Kansas in its victory at Baylor.
Consecutive home victories by Kansas, the longest current streak in the nation.
Cyclones’ travel challenges
First, Iowa State let a second-half lead slip away in an overtime loss at Oklahoma State – the 16th consecutive loss for the Cyclones in Stillwater. Then an ice storm altered their itinerary.
Because there was no de-icing equipment at the Stillwater airport, Iowa State’s charter flight was cancelled. The team called an audible and bussed to Tulsa for a charter flight scheduled to leave at 1 a.m. Thursday. Then that plane was grounded because of weather.
With a game at Missouri Saturday night, coach Fred Hoiberg decided to make it a long road trip. Instead of trying to fly home Thursday afternoon, the team flew to Columbia after spending Wednesday night in Tulsa.
* Four Big 12 coaches are among 14 participating in The Infiniti Coaches' Charity Challenge. Rick Barnes of Texas, Scott Drew of Baylor, Frank Martin of Kansas State and Bill Self of Kansas will be involved with special programming features during ESPN’s Game of the Week telecast. Based on a fan vote, one coach will receive a $100,000 donation of his designated charity while the other 13 each will receive a $10,000 donation.
* The Texas-Texas A&M series has been dominated by the home team. The Longhorns victory in Austin Wednesday night continued the trend. Texas is the last team to win on the road in the rivalry, doing so in 2004.
* In four Big 12 games, Iowa State senior Jamie Vanderbeken is 19-of-34 (55.9 percent) on 3-pointers. He has attempted and made more threes than anyone in conference games. Vanderbeken is averaging 17.3 points per game in Big 12 action.
* Colorado’s surprising start and offensive fast pace under first-year coach Tad Boyle has some folks referring to “Boyle Ball.” Colorado is averaging 83 points a game, about 10 more than last season under coach Jeff Bzdelik. "In college basketball, recruiting is paramount,” Boyle said. “It's about attracting good players. You want a style that they're going to want to play.”
Texas A&M’s Nathan Walkup after Wednesday’s 81-60 loss to Texas:
"They just out-toughed us. They were more physical than we were and that can't happen. This program is built on toughness and physical-ness. You can't play soft in the Big 12, especially against a top 10 team. We got punked tonight."
Kansas’ Marcus Morris on the attiude and focus of the second-ranked Jayhawks:
“Our motto is, ‘No days off.’ We’ve got to keep getting better. That starts in practice with leaders on the team and have everybody go play every day. We are just one family.”
Kansas State senior guard Jacob Pullen:
“They can write us off. We’ve just got to work hard in practice and continue to do the things that we can do … and finish games.”
Texas A&M coach Mark Turgeon on playing Kansas State Saturday and bouncing back from the 21-point loss at Texas:
|"It's not like we dropped to 3-3. We lost one game to a Top 10 team that played great. I didn't like the outcome or the effort. We had neither, but we've got to get it back before Saturday. That's the key. I hope we get a full building. Our guys deserve it."
Oklahoma coach Jeff Capel on his team, which ended a 12-game Big 12 losing streak with an 83-74 victory over Texas Tech:
“There is not going to be another team in the conference that we are more talented than. We may be as talented, but we are not going to be more talented. But that does not mean we can’t win. We have to do the things we can control at a very high level every time we step on the floor.”