In another important Big 12 matchup, Texas will host the conference-leading Kansas State Wildcats on Tuesday. The second game of the season between the two schools will be a rematch of the early January meeting in which Texas embarrassed the Wildcats, 67-47. Wildcat sophmore guard Cartier Diarra will miss Tuesday night’s contest due to hand surgery, but forward Dean Wade is back in the lineup, unlike last time these two teams played in Manhattan.
What to watch for from Texas:
GETTING HOT LATE IN THE SEASON: Texas has played well in their last two games, achieving their first win streak since early January. Their shooting percentage of 49.56% (56-113) in those games has played an impactful role. Over the last two games, Texas is shooting well above their current average field goal percentage (43.6%) and Shaka Smart’s team is shooting better than Iowa State, who lead the Big 12 Conference in field goal percentage (48.1%). The team is averaging a margin of victory of 17 points over the two-game stretch, building confidence for the Texas defense moving forward.
GUARD IMPACT: Texas has three electric guards in Kerwin Roach II, Matt Coleman III, and Courtney Ramey. In the last two performances, Roach has averaged 17.5 PPG, Coleman has averaged 12.0 PPG, and Ramey has averaged 14.5 PPG. This trio has played cohesively as of late, bringing intangibles to their performances. Roach’s worth speaks for itself, as does the prolific speed of Coleman on fast breaks and the stout defensive performances from Ramey. It will be interesting to see how Kansas State handles the three-headed monster of these guards.
EFFECTIVENESS OF THREE-POINTER/SHOT SELECTION: In this two-game stretch, Texas has shot 39.53% (17-43) from behind the arc, which has given them an edge over their opponents. Compared to 3-point shots against Iowa State (6-23, 26.1%), the team is shooting with more conviction from deep. The team is also improving their shot selection by feeding Jaxson Hayes and Jericho Sims more often. Hayes has a field goal percentage of 81.8% (9-11, 21 points) in the last two games, while Sims has a field goal percentage of 75.0% (6-8, 13 points) over the same span. Utilizing the pick-and-roll has contributed to their success, but they also are receiving better feeds from the guards and are finding better looks.
MINIMIZING TURNOVERS: The Longhorns have handled the ball well in their last two games, averaging 8.5 turnovers per game, much less than their season average of 11.4 per game. Against a team like Kansas State, who has the best turnover margin and most steals-per-game in the Big 12, ball security will be paramount for Texas to have an edge.
What to watch for from Kansas State:
CONFERENCE LEADERS: The Wildcats have won 8 straight conference games. They have beaten Iowa State, Oklahoma, Texas Tech and Kansas during this stretch. They have all the momentum of the league since losing in Manhattan to Texas, and are seeking revenge.
BARRY BROWN JR. & DEAN WADE: The two top scorers for the Wildcats have led this team to where they are. Dean Wade did not play at the last meeting between these two teams, and will most certainly be a lot to handle. Wade averages 14.0 points per game, 6.8 rebounds per game, a field goal percentage of 50.9%, and a three-point percentage of 44.1%. Brown Jr. averages 15.3 points per game, 4.1 rebounds per game, a field goal percentage of 44.3%, and a three-point percentage of 31.6%. These players will most likely be indicators of the success of Kansas State in this game.
DEFENSIVE PROWESS: Kansas State leads many categories defensively within the Big 12, and their success will depend on maintaining that edge. They have the highest defensive rebound percentage at 76.1%, greatest turnover margin of +3.3, the most steals per game at 7.6, and the second-best scoring defensive with 59.3 points allowed per game. This has given them an advantage throughout their last 8 conference games, and it will be interesting to see how Texas attempts to overcome this.
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