Texas Longhorns vs. Kansas Jayhawks Preview (pt. 1): Is Tristan Thompson the Key to Allen Field House?

The battle of the Big 12 undefeated takes place Saturday at Allen Field House.  Both teams are coming off their best games of the season.  Kansas tore through Scott Drew's zone faster than Bob Knight could say "shot fake," and Texas reduced fundamentally sound Texas A&M to a sloppy, over-matched team playing on the road.  Both games felt over by the second media timeout (and probably before that). The stars shined for both squads when the Morris twins combined to go 19-24 from the field for 44 points and Thompson and Hamilton went 18-26 from the field for 45 points.  That's enough about the last games.

The Longhorns have never, I repeat never, won a game in Lawrence (Kansas is 9-0 against the Longhorns at home).  This year the Jayhawks are off to an incredibly hot start (18-0 to be exact), but Texas isn't too far behind (15-3 with losses coming in the last possession to Pitt and UConn).  And both teams are winning with defense.  According to Ken Pomeroy, Texas and Kansas are ranked fourth and first respectively in defensive efficiency.  Texas holds opponents to a ludicrous 40.7 effective field goal percentage while the Jayhawks also hold opponents to a salty 42.0 effective field goal percentage.  One thing to note, Kansas defensively dominates opponents beyond the arc where Texas dominates the whole floor (though Kansas isn't shabby inside either, just not top 15).

I think the key will come down to the interior.  If the Morris twins can slow down Thompson and score readily, Kansas won't have much trouble with the Longhorns.  However, if the Morris twins come out like they did against UCLA, Arizona, USC or Michigan, look out.  They cannot afford to let Thompson own the post--which he will if they play soft.  Texas has proved to be very physical inside, even against larger players.  But they haven't seen anyone with as much polish as the Morris brothers.  But I think the Kansas backcourt will need to hit some threes to give the interior some space to work. 

This is probably Kansas' best chance to lose in conference play (either here or at Missouri).  The Longhorns are by far the best team the Jayhawks have faced so far.  I picked the Longhorns earlier this week, and I'm going to stand strong.  Prediction: Texas 78 - Kansas 75.  The game is at 3:00 PM on CBS.

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