Kansas Jayhawks: Underdogs in Austin


Jan 7, 2015; Waco, TX, USA; Kansas Jayhawks guard Frank Mason III (0) drives to the basket on Baylor Bears guard Lester Medford (11) during the first half at Ferrell Center. Mandatory Credit: Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports

The road has been a nasty place this year for college basketball teams.

Just ask Villanova, Duke, and even Kansas, who are all ranked in the top 15, yet have lost by double digits away from home — to unranked teams. You only have to look at far as the Big 12 Conference to understand winning a game on the road, any game, shouldn’t be taken lightly.

Big 12 Conference teams are 19-25 (.432) on the road, and 90-15 (.857), at home. Of course, that huge pile of home wins is stacked with some cupcakes, but take a look at these road losses by Big 12 teams.*

  • #10 KU @ Temple — 77-52
  • #22 Baylor @ K-State — 63-61
  • Oklahoma St. @ South Carolina — 75-49
  • #17 Texas @ Oklahoma St. — 69-58
  • #16 West Virginia @ #20 Texas — 77-50

If that’s not enough to make you afraid for your Jayhawks to play anywhere besides the friendly confines of Allen Fieldhouse, think about this scenario. The Kansas State Wildcats lost by 14  Jan. 3 in Stillwater to Oklahoma St., but are favored by two points today in the re-match in Manhattan.

Despite being ranked 11th in the country, when they Jayhawks lace up their shoes for the 1 p.m. start today in Austin, they will be around 3 1/2-point underdogs. Part of that is because the Texas Longhorns are a very good team, but part of it too is the fact it’s so hard to win on the road today in college basketball.

Here are five more facts for the heavyweight match-up.

(1) Texas is tied with Oklahoma State for best home record against a Bill Self KU team.

The Longhorns are 4-3 against the Jayhawks in the Bill Self era, and most of that is attributed to the fact that Texas has generally been very good over the past decade. However, it’s still impressive considering only the Longhorns and Oklahoma State (4-3) having winning records at home against the Jayhawks the past 11-plus years.

(2) Devonte’ Graham has been better thank you think since returning from a month-long toe injury.

In his past four games, Devonte’ Graham has 17 assists, and one turnover. A 3-1 ratio is great for a point guard, 17-1 is “out-of-your-mind” good. The law of averages seems to always win, and if Graham is going to have a down game, at Texas could be a good place for that to happen.

(3) Texas doesn’t lose at home much either

No team in the past decade can compare to Bill Self and his 184-9 home record. The Longhorns however, win more than 7 out of 10 home games against conference opponents since the formation of the Big 12.

(4) Texas super-frosh Myles Turner almost played in this game as a Jayhawk

Many thought the departure of another super-frosh in Kansas’ Joel Embiid, would bring the 6-11 Myles Turner to Lawrence. Instead, he decided to stay in-state, and so far has been huge (no pun intended), averaging 12 points and seven rebounds per game, while leading the conference with 2.7 blocks per contest. What a different game this could have been if he were a Jayhawk. However, KU big man Cliff Alexander can help Jayhawk fans forget they lost the recruiting battle with another strong game following his 13-point, 13-rebound effort Monday against Oklahoma.

(5) A blowout is out of the question for KU

The Jayhawks might be the fourth-highest scoring team in the Big 12 Conference, but it’s still an underwhelming 72.3 points per game. Texas on the other hand, most likely has the best defense in the league, and only gives up an average of 56.3 points per contest. KU also has been outscored by 24 points in four road games this season. Since rim protector (and all-time KU block leader) Jeff Withey, graduated in 2013, the Jayhawks have struggled with length at the rim. Guess where Turner excels? Here’s a hint: it’s at the rim.

Whatever happens today should tell us a lot about this KU team. A hard-fought loss shouldn’t change a positive opinion of this team. However, if this is another 20-point blowout, the national perception that KU can’t compete with heavyweights outside of Allen Fieldhouse will remain. However, even if Texas pulls out the victory, they can be sure the re-match in Lawrence will be one they want to forget.

Prediction: Texas 73, KU 68

*Rankings were at the time of the game.

Next: Kansas Jayhawks: Five Bold Predictions for the Rest of the Regular Season

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