There is not much better than a bounce-back game between two of the best teams in the Big 12, which is exactly what we have in Saturday afternoon’s matchup between TCU and Kansas.
A bounce-back game in Lawrence between two of the best teams in the Big 12
Can you ask for much more?
That’s what we’ve got Saturday, as TCU travels to Lawrence to battle the Kansas Jayhawks.
TCU is coming off a 74-65 loss to a shoddy West Virginia team, and Kansas is coming off just its second loss of the season, getting beat by Kansas State 83-82 in overtime.
Preview: vs Kansas
Bouncing back from a loss is something the Jayhawks have already done this season. Kansas lost to Tennessee in the Battle 4 Atlantis Championship, and then rolled off 10 straight wins.
Their offensive attack is balanced, and they rank well on both sides of the ball. The Jayhawks rank top 20 in offensive and defensive efficiency, something only a few teams can say.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Jayhawks are very effective in their motion offense, and move the ball around efficiently to create penetration. Kansas scores 53.7% of its points from 2-point range, and six of every ten baskets scored come off an assist. That’s a beyond impressive stat.
The Jayhawks are just as effective defensively, as the team (funny enough) is tremendous at stopping penetration and creating pressure. Maybe it’s because they see it in practice so much.
The Jayhawks rank 19th nationally in steal percentage, getting a steal on 13% of the team’s defensive possessions, and only allowing 49.4% of their baskets from 2-point range (which could limit TCU’s success).
But - however good Kansas has been this year, the Jayhawks have displayed an inability to defend without fouling. Kansas allows opponents to score 19.6% of their points from the free throw line, which is above the national average of 18.2%
This is what the Frogs must exploit this afternoon.
The Frogs have mastered creating contact, and getting to the free-throw line. TCU scores 20.5% of points from the line, which is 66th in the country, and they’ll have to emphasize creating contact, and getting to a line, against a Kansas team which struggles to prevent it.
Micah Peavy will still be out for his fourth straight game, and as a key player on the defensive end, he could’ve helped in defending Kansas’ star guard Dajuan Harris.
Jalen Wilson might score the most, but Harris is the engine that makes this Kansas train go.
Harris averages an insane 6.5 assists per game, and has the 33rd-highest assist rate in the country. So, Mike Miles and Damion Baugh must be on their A-Game today defensively.
It’s a good thing they’re more than capable. Mike Miles gets a steal on 2.6% of defensive possessions, while Baugh gets one on 3.6% of defensive possessions.
Both must be active on the defensive end this afternoon if the Frogs want to shock Kansas in Lawrence.
Ultimately - this will be a tough game, especially being in Lawrence, but the Frogs should know what they need to do to squeak out a win.
Slow the game down, put pressure on Kansas’ defense, and force them to foul. That would get the Frogs some rhythm at the free throw line, could slow down Dajuan Harris’ rhythm, and could give the Frogs the advantage.
Miles and Baugh know they’re going to have to have their best games defensively.
But, doing so in Allen Fieldhouse, in Lawrence, is a tough task. This is the hardest place to play in ALL of college basketball. The Frogs don’t have the greatest track-record here.
So, while the recipe for a road-upset is clear, it’s tough for me to predict one, especially after TCU’s horrendous road performance to West Virginia.
The squad looked lost Wednesday in Morgantown.
We can at least hope they found some footing on the way to Lawrence, but the raucous road environment, paired with the Jayhawks’ offensive talent and defensive ability, will give them the advantage in this one.
March’s game in Schollmaier may be a completely different story.
TCU 67, Kansas 73