UT-KU, KSU-ATM previews

#11 Texas at #2 Kansas (CBS, 3 p.m. CT)

Can Marcus Morris be stopped?

Both teams just made what were supposed to big tests look easy. Texas has a lot of competent big men it can throw at the Morris twins – Tristan Thompson, Gary Johnson, Alexis Wangmene and Jordan Hamilton – but there is no guarantee that will slow them down. Baylor’s collection of long, athletic big men didn’t bother them at all in the Jayhawks’ blowout win in Waco. Marcus Morris is shooting 40 percent from three which is making him close to unguardable. I’ll be most interested to see how the Rick Barnes elects to defend the twins, seeing as the Longhorns are the team most talent-wise able to do it left on Kansas’ schedule.

Prediction: Kansas looked like #1 seed material against Baylor, a game that was hyped up for ESPN’s Big Monday. Does that win make them vulnerable for a letdown or will they gain enough confidence to keep up that high level of play? I could see it going either way. J’Covan Brown, Jai Lucas, Corey Joseph and Dogus Balbay combined for 11 assists against 3 turnovers against Texas A&M’s solid defense. If Texas’ guards can take care of the ball again and get another star performance from Jordan Hamilton they can pull the upset. But I just don’t see that happening in Lawrence, where this will the Jayhawks first “big” game of the year. It should be close most of the way, but I’ll go with a 82-74 Kansas win.

#24 Kansas State at #10 Texas A&M  (ESPN, 1 p.m. CT)

There will be a lot of this in College Station today.

The Wildcats might still have enough time and significant games on their schedule to claw back into the NCAA picture even if they lose this game…maybe. But it would sure mean a lot of they were to somehow go into College Station and knock off the Aggies. A game like this is where the loss of Dominique Sutton hurts as much as Denis Clemente: Sutton would have been a great candidate to slow down Khris Middleton. Kansas State will have to begin this game with the same defensive pressure and intensity that they showed at he beginning of the second half against Missouri last Monday, which allowed them to creep within three before falling apart. David Loubeau didn’t have his best game against Texas (7 points on 3-9 shooting, 5 rebounds), and Jamar Samuels and Curtis Kelly should be able to neutralize him and Nathan Walkup much like Texas did. That will mean Dash Harris or B.J. Holmes will need to shoulder more of the scoring load from Middleton, unlike they did Monday night.

Prediction: I think Kansas State will come out and be effective on defense and this game won’t be a laugher. However, I just don’t see how the Wildcats will be able to produce enough offense outside of Jacob Pullen to win, especially against a good defensive team like the Aggies. This will be the last of a tough three-game stretch for the Aggies and I think they will be able to pull it out. I’ll take Texas A&M at 65-58.



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