Scouting Texas

News, notes and quotes on No. 1 KU's battle with No. 9 Texas (the Longhorns will surely drop in the polls released today after their loss to Oklahoma on Saturday) tonight at 8:00 in Austin at the Erwin Center on ESPN Big Monday. Bob Knight, Brent Musburger and Holly Rowe will call the action. The game helps kicks off ESPN's "Rivalry Week."

SCOUTING TEXAS

Texas (19-4, 5-3 Big 12) returns four starters off last season's 22-13 team. After winning its first 17 games and earning the school's first-ever No. 1 ranking, UT has now dropped four of its last six games, including the disappointing 80-71 loss at Oklahoma.

The Longhorns, who are 12-1 at home this season, lead the Big 12 in scoring offense at 84.1 points per game while allowing 67.7, ranking second behind Kansas in scoring margin at +16.3. Texas shoots 48.3 percent from the field, 34.3 percent from three-point range, and 61 percent at the free-throw line. UT is holding foes to 38.8 percent from the field and 30.7 percent from beyond the arc, while outrebounding opponents 43.8 to 36.5 per game. Texas' 43.8 boards an outing leads the Big 12.

A deep and athletic team, Texas has eight players averaging 17 or more minutes per game. Senior swingman Damion James leads the attack with 17.8 points and a conference-leading 11 rebounds per game. He also has a team-high 39 steals and ranks second on the squad with 25 blocks. Freshman guard Avery Bradley is next in scoring (12.8 ppg, No. 2 with 52 assists and 32 threes), followed by senior center Dexter Pittman (11.4 ppg, team-high 48 blocks), freshman guard J'Covan Brown (9.4 ppg), freshman swingman Jordan Hamilton (9.3 ppg, team-leading 36 treys), junior forward Gary Johnson (8.3 ppg), junior guard Dogus Balbay (4.3 ppg, team-best 101 assists), junior guard Jai Lucas (3.9 ppg) and senior guard Justin Mason (3.8 ppg).

Texas also features sophomore forward/center Alexis Wangmene (2.5 ppg in 8.9 minutes per game), who is the brother of KU junior walk-on Chase Buford.

BEST OF THE BEST

Kansas and Texas rank 1-2 in conference wins since the Big 12's inception in 1996-97. Kansas is 180-36 (83.3 percent), while Texas is 150-66 (69.4 percent).

KU has won or tied a league-best nine Big 12 regular-season championships, including each of the last five. Texas is next with three.

Both schools have played in the Big 12 Championship title game three of the last four years, with KU winning all three.

And since the start of the Big 12, Kansas (2002, 2003, 2008), Texas (2003), Oklahoma (2002) and Oklahoma State (2004) have advanced to the Final Four.

READY FOR BATTLE

Both teams have circled this game on their calendar since the preseason rankings came out with KU No. 1 and UT No. 2.

KU coach Bill Self quickly mentioned the showdown in Austin in the locker room after the Jayhawks (22-1, 8-0 Big 12) got by Nebraska, 75-64, on Saturday in Allen Fieldhouse.

"We kind of played like a tired team I thought, which we are," Self said afterwards. "We can break this game down, but the big thing is we are now at the game we've been looking forward to and hopefully we'll have a great effort and a tougher effort against Texas on Monday. ... I'm excited about Monday."

With three games down to Kansas in the league race, this is a must-win game for Texas.

"They'll play so hard against us," Self said. "They'll play hard because this is a game that can kind of right their ship. I think our guys will compete, too."

"We know we'll have to play probably our best game that we played so far this year to win," Self added, "but we expect to go down there and play well."

Despite Texas' recent struggles, Self is quite impressed with their overall talent.

"I think their team speed is great," Self said. "I think Balbay is probably the best athlete in our league, and he doesn't get the credit he deserves from an athletic standpoint. Obviously Damion is having a player of the year type year. They can throw bigs at you. They got perimeter (players). They got a guy off the bench (Hamilton) that got 27 in 19 minutes on the road (at Oklahoma State). They got guys that can score and they got guys who are really fast. I'd say handling pressure and also rebounding the ball will be two huge keys."

"They're going to eat us up," Self added. "They're going to try and get the ball out of Sherron's (Collins, KU senior guard) hands and make our other guys be players. We'll hopefully be prepared for that, and when the ball is on the glass, you've got to go get it. ... We've got to be much better in those areas."

James is especially lethal at attacking the glass. KU sophomore forward Marcus Morris is excited about defending the Texas standout.

"He and Craig Brackins are the two top guys that I enjoy guarding," Morris said. "I'm just going to go out and give him my best shot; I will try and contain him."
 
SERIES HISTORY

Kansas leads the series with Texas, 16-6. KU has won two straight and five of the last six meetings. However, UT has won the last three games in Austin, and is 4-2 overall against KU in the Erwin Center. The teams last met in Austin on Feb. 11, 2008 during KU's national championship season with UT winning 72-69.

Each of the last five games in the series have been decided by 10 points or less.

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