Sure the 20-point blowouts are nice once in awhile, but let’s be honest, these are the types of games fans and players live for.
Phog Allen Fieldhouse will be rocking on Saturday when Kansas takes on Texas A&M in the most-anticipated matchup so far this season in Big 12 play. ESPN’s College Gameday will be there and so will over 16,000 anxious KU fans.
The Jayhawks and Aggies share a 6-1 conference record and both teams hang their hats on quality defense. But KU has yet to play an opponent with the type of defensive vigor the Aggies have. Maybe Self taught his old friend Billy Gillispie a little too well.
Gillispie’s squad leads the league in scoring defense, scoring margin, free throw percentage, field goal percentage, field goal percentage defense, three-point field goal defense, assists, assist-to-turnover ratio, shall I go on? So you can understand why even a team as talented as Kansas, has its hands full.
Kansas will have to contend with the toughness, the defense, and some really talented offensive players. According to Self, the key to this matchup is simple.
“Stating the obvious, you’ve got to contain Acie (Law). He’s a great athlete who plays at different speeds and he is tough,” Self told Phog.net
Law is the conference’s second leading scorer (19.0 ppg), and is an experienced 6-3 guard that can never be taken lightly. Self guaranteed his players won’t be forgetting about the senior from Dallas, Texas anytime soon.
“Acie is the type of guy who could have single digits with five-six minutes left and end up getting 23, because he’s so good down the stretch,” according to Self. “Then we’ve got to neutralize their two other weapons (Anatanas) Kavaliauskas and (Joseph) Jones,” Self continued. “Those would be real keys because they can put us in serious foul trouble.”
There’s no doubt that the smaller Jayhawks must deal with 6-10 Kavaliauskas and the 6-9 Jones, the duo puts up over 25 points and over 12 rebounds a game. KU cannot afford sub par efforts from Sasha Kaun, and Darnell Jackson. The Jayhawks will need their physical presence in this one. Self had some choice words for his big guys after the Colorado game calling their play, “soft”. He did admit he was looking to send a message in preparation for this game against a physical Texas A&M team.
“I would say so. We didn’t play very tough in that game (Colordao) but we played better against Nebraska. Saturday will be a great sign to tell us where are big guys are. They’ll be going up against two potential pros and two legit bangers. Our body makeup is not that of a banger, we’re fast but we need to learn to bang a bit too,” Self concluded.
So what will take to send Kansas to 7-1 in the conference?
“To beat Texas A&M it requires a very tough mindset. We can’t allow ourselves to be screened, to be sealed, to catch with one hand, or dribble and fumble it. You don’t want to do those things against them because that’s what they’re looking for.”