Monday, February 11, 2008

Keys to the Game: Texas v. Kansas

1. FAST START... I know I have harped on this for the past few weeks, but its importance cannot be understated. The past four games, Texas has spotted their opponent a 10 point lead. They came back in three of those, but there is no way this team can come back against Kansas. AJ is going to have to start the game hot, and DJ is going to have to get back into his early season form. If Damion can establish his outside game early, that may clear the paint for a Gary, Dex or Conner to operate down low and give DJ a better path to the basket. Watch it. The first 5-7 minutes will decide this game.

2. INSIDE DEFENSE... Ok, we already know Texas has a problem with teams that have 2 decent big men. Well, Kansas has about 5 of them. Sacha Kahn and Darrell Arthur are going to give the horns all they can handle. Look to see Texas try to run out a bigger line up most of the game. I think the key comes down to stopping Arthur. He showed what he can do against teams with poor post defense as he lit up Baylor for 33 points. Dex, Wangmene, Connor and Clint are all going to be rotating on the KU big men, and if they can hold their own or just minimize the damage, Texas may have a shot.

3. PACE OF PLAY... Texas will not be able to run with Kansas. Period. KU is one of the fastest teams in the country and love to push the tempo. They put up 100 points against Baylor and are among the tops in the country in scoring offense. The key to Kansas' fast play is that their big men can get down the floor quickly. The slower Texas big men are going to have to chase Darrell Arthur all over the floor. Look for Texas to rotate big men frequently to keep them fresh and out of foul trouble. Also, the pace of play is going to be on the shoulders of DJ. Texas must get a quality shot every time down the floor. Bad missed and quick KU rebounds equal a blow out of the Horns. DJ is going to have to play with in himself. Make smart passes and take quality shots. Look for Texas to use the shot clock on most possessions. This is going to have to he a low scoring game in the 60s or 70s if Texas has a chance. If DJ plays like he did in Ames, its lights out for Texas.

4. AJ STAYING HOT... Abrams has been Texas' best player over the last 5 games. Kansas is going to score and Texas is going to have to come up with an answer. I can see Texas keeping it within 6-10 points most of the game, and a few clutch 3s from AJ might be enough to give Texas a chance to win the game in the final 2 minutes. AJ is going to have a much larger defender on him and is going to have to be very creative and use his screens well to get quality shots off all night.

5. JOHNSON & JAMES... Gary and Damion are Texas' two most gifted athletes and they are going to have to play out of their minds tonight. Damion has to have a good shooting night and look for his outside shot. He is going to have to be a monster on the defensive boards and use his athleticism to keep the KU big men off the offensive glass. Gary is going to have to establish a post presence on offense and convert shots around the basket. If Gary can step out and hit the 10 footer, Texas is going to be sitting pretty on offense. Mostly, Gary is going to have to be in position on defense and active on the glass. Again, I cannot stress enough how good Darrell Arthur and Kansas are. Keep them off the offensive glass, pull them away from the paint on defense and keep them from getting good post position on offense. Those are the keys to Texas coming away with a huge conference win.

PREDICTION: KU 88 Texas 74

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