This is a Game between two teams in completely different situations even if both are coming off losses. Kansas defied critics in January and put itself alone atop the Big 12 standings even after Tuesday’s loss at Oklahoma. Texas A&M, formerly ranked in the AP’s top five, is sitting in the SEC basement. The Aggies lost at LSU on Tuesday, a Game they were never really close in.
Things just haven’t worked for the Aggies in Conference play and a trip to Allen Fieldhouse probably won’t help matters. A&M hasn’t won a true road Game all season and has lost its last two by double-digits against Tennessee and LSU. As for Kansas, while it’s already lost a couple home Games, it’s still the best team in the Big 12. And while things haven’t been pretty, winning its last three at home by a combined nine points, it’s at least getting wins.
That’s the major difference between these teams. The Jayhawks know how to win, while the Aggies have either gotten blown out or are losing in the final seconds. What makes this Game interesting is the vastly different make up of each team. A&M is one of the bigger teams around and Kansas only really uses one big with seven-footer Udoka Azubuike.
Starting with those matchups, Azubuike will run into a wall in Tyler Davis, who gives up a couple inches, but is plenty physical. Davis leads the Aggies in scoring, but his numbers don’t differ much from Azubuike with both near 14 points and about eight boards per Game. The other frontcOurt matchup is Svi Mykhailiuk and Robert Williams. The two are much different players with Mykhailiuk KU’s best shooter and Williams coming off a 21-point, 15-rebound Game. If Kansas plays man, it’s hard to see Mykailiuk having enough against Williams. The same goes for A&M on the other end because Williams probably won’t be able to keep up with Mykailiuk on the perimeter. That’ll lead to both teams playing zone and Kansas getting the edge because it’s much better shooting from distance.
In Conference play, the Aggies have not shot well, making just 26.3 percent of threes and it doesn’t help that the Jayhawks lead the Big 12 in three-point percentage allowed (30.1). It’s almost the opposite on the other side of the cOurt with DJ Hogg A&M’s best shooter and he’s only at 41 percent from deep. That’s part of the reason this team has struggled because both its starting guards can’t shoot well and Hogg is a 6-foot-9 small forward. Hogg has size over most of his defenders, but he’s also giving up athleticism to most of them and isn’t often creating his own shot.
The Aggies may have size and get a lot of blocks, but they haven’t been good in SEC play, giving up an effective field goal percentage above 50, which is much worse than how it performed in non-conference. There’s no doubt this could be close like the rest of KU’s Games, but picking A&M to win would be a stretch.
A team filled with shooters surrounded by one big to go with the best guard in this Game in Devonte’ Graham is easier to trust than what A&M brings. A&M’s starting backcOurt of Duane Wilson and Admon Gilder has combined for 10 points and Four assists in the last two Games. Graham has 26 points, 15 rebounds and 16 assists in the last two for the Jayhawks. Unless the Aggies absolutely manhandle Kansas in the paint and dominate the glass, this will be a tough Game to steal on the road. Look for Graham and Mykhailiuk to lead the way as the best shooters in the Game and Azubuike to do enough down low. If Azubuike gets into early foul trouble, that’s another story, but this team has already battled through that situation multiple times this season.
Our pick – Kansas -7