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Texas A&M Aggies at Kansas Jayhawks Preview: Can the Aggies slow down the Jayhawks

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First and foremost, per Brady McCollough, Tyshawn Taylor will suit up for the Jayhawks tonight.  Not that Kansas missed him all that much with Elijah Johnson playing some of his best games of the season.  But still, Taylor is the guy Kansas wants in there down the stretch--especially when games are close.

Texas A&M has really surprised me (and I assume a host of other people) this season.  Frankly, the team is often outmatched talent-wise, size-wise, or athleticism-wise, but it continues to win.  I don't think the Aggies should be in the top 25: they got off to a very strong start, but looking closer at the wins exposes a few: Temple was a very good win; Missouri at home is almost taken as a given these days; and Washington has collapsed.  Really, Texas A&M's best looking win currently is at home against Kansas State. 

Kansas is looking for its third top 25 win as well (also including the win over Missouri at home), but the Jayhawks have much more talent.  Any team, late in the season, that's shooting 58.7% from two and almost 40% from three can play.  The Jayhawks have terrific ball movement and no real weak links on offense.  The offense revolves around the Morris twins, who spread the floor as well as any bigs in the country.

On the other side Texas A&M runs its offense through Khris Middleton.  I think Middleton is almost a lock for Most Improved (assuming the conference wants to share the love and gives Jordan Hamilton Most Valuable) in the Big 12 because he's having a terrific season: he's averaging almost 15 points a game (on a team that plays very deliberately) and over five rebounds to boot.  However, I don't think Middleton is going to be the key against Kansas.

More after the jump.

The key for the Aggies is going to be controlling the pace.  There is no way, even if Middleton goes off for 35 or 40, they can win a game in the 80's.  The key to controlling the tempo will be the defense.  Because of Kansas' ball movement and incredible shooting, you really have to stick to your man at all times (if you want to know what happens when you play zone, go try and find highlights from the Baylor game). The third key to the game (slightly less obvious than the gems above) is Dash Harris.  Harris is Texas A&M's weakest link on offense.  He's an undersized point guard who can't shoot (literally his percentages are 38% from two, 17% from three and 54% from the foul line) and isn't particularly good at facilitating.  That's not to say Harris can't have a good game, but this year he's looked like a liability.  A&M will need production out of everyone if there's any real hope to knock off the Jayhawks in Lawrence.

The game is at 8:00PM on ESPN2.

Prediction: Kansas 78 - Texas A&M 68

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