Kansas vs. Texas

Saturday marks a big time game with a big time game-day atmosphere.

Kansas returns home from a two-game road trip to face Texas in a battle of nationally ranked Big 12 foes. After its 86-66 win at Baylor Tuesday, KU is 5-0 in conference play and looking to go 6-0 for the first time since the 2001-02 Jayhawks became the first team in league history to go undefeated during the Big 12 regular season.

Texas has won three of its last four games after its 80-73 victory against Texas Tech Tuesday.

Besides the normal ESPN2 HD broadcast, ESPN is making numerous other appearances in Lawrence for the game. It started with ESPN2's Cold Pizza on Friday, Jan. 28, from 7-9 a.m. Cane Peterson was the host and KU broadcaster Max Falkenstien, Coach Bill Self and senior Wayne Simien were guests on the show from the floor of Allen Fieldhouse.

ESPN Gameday will be making its second trip of the year in Lawrence and will do three shows on Saturday at 10 a.m., 7 p.m. and 11 p.m. Rece Davis, Jay Bilas, Digger Phelps and Andy Katz are hosts for the day-long show and Barry Sacks is the producer.

"They won't have access to our players on gameday," explained Self. "I think it is positive. You can't buy that kind of exposure."

Like KU, the Longhorns have been ranked all season and enter the game No. 16 by the Associated Press and No. 13 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches polls. Texas is outscoring opponents by 14.5 points per game and outrebounding by 6.7 per contest. UT is led by freshman guard Daniel Gibson who is averaging 13.6 points per game. Gibson also paces the Longhorns in assists with a 4.3 average.

"He has poise and he is a great shooter. He has the chance to be mentioned in the same breath as T.J. Ford. He is having as good of a freshman year as anyone in America," asserted Self.

"He has really stepped his game up in the absence of Tucker," added Self.

Sophomore SF P.J. Tucker was declared academically ineligible in late January and is out for the season. Until that time, Tucker was the leading scorer for Texas.

"I went through some hard times last semester. I'm disappointed in myself. I apologize to everybody," Tucker said last week.

Self does not see the loss for Texas as a large factor for the upcoming game.

"I don't think there is a big drop off. One thing that Texas has is bodies. Is it a loss for them? Absolutely. It takes away a toughness guy, he is a stud. You also replace him with an All-American. (Jason) Klotz is about as good of a low post player as anyone in the league," said Self.

Junior forward Brad Buckman (10.9 ppg), senior Kenny Taylor (10.5 ppg) and senior Jason Klotz (10.3 ppg) are also averaging double figures. Buckman leads the Longhorns in rebounding with a 6.9 average.

However you look at it, Kansas will have its hands full.

"I think our biggest weakness has been on the offensive glass. We know that that will be a big part of the game on Saturday," predicted Self.

This contest is a battle of heavyweights. Texas has finished no lower than third in the Big 12 race in each of the last six seasons under head coach Rick Barnes. Included was the 1999 league title. Kansas has won four Big 12 championships including two in the last three years. KU has finished either first or second in seven of the eight Big 12 seasons.

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