Texas Basketball: Can Longhorns continue KU’s downslide?

A key game where the Texas basketball program can get its biggest win of the season so far comes against the Kansas Jayhawks on Jan. 18.

On Jan. 18, the Texas basketball program will try and take on the No. 6 ranked Kansas Jayhawks at home at the Frank Erwin Center in Austin. Head Texas basketball coach Shaka Smart has his team rolling after winning two straight in Big 12 play, each game coming by a double-digit margin in the favor of the men in burnt orange.

In those two straight wins in the first four in the Big 12 slate this year, the Texas Longhorns basketball program knocked off the young but talented Oklahoma State Cowboys on the road and an NCAA Tournament contender in the Kansas State Wildcats. The win over Kansas State came by an impressive margin, with the final score of 64-50.

And the Longhorns did go back and forth with head coach Mike Boynton and the Pokes on Jan. 15 at Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater. But Smart’s Longhorns got the best of Oklahoma State on Wednesday night by the final score of 76-64.

Although, what that win over Oklahoma State did do was prove that this Texas offense can score against a usually suffocating defense. That really marked one of the first times in the last two years that Smart saw his team battle on the road against a less talented opponent like they did and come out on top while scoring at least 75 points.

As a team, Texas shot 15-of-32 from three-point land and better than 48 percent from the field to never give that Oklahoma State team much of a chance to get a hold of the pace of play. Texas also did a great job on the defensive end of the floor in limiting the standout Pokes guard combination of senior Lindy Waters III and sophomore Isaac Likekele.

Things will not get any easier for the Longhorns, though, as they move to take on the Big 12 favorite this season with head coach Bill Self and the Jayhawks. The 13-3 (3-1 Big 12) Jayhawks are going to put their best foot forward against Texas on Saturday afternoon.

Kansas struggled with the Oklahoma Sooners for a bit in a 66-52 win earlier this week. And they were handled by the Baylor Bears to the tune of a 67-55 loss on Jan. 11.

Even though Kansas was slipping a bit of late (dropped three spots in the last AP Poll down to No. 6), this might be the toughest home game of the regular season for the Longhorns. Texas has not been ranked since early in non-conference play.

Star sophomore guard and Charlotte, NC, native Devon Dotson is one of the best at his position in the entire country this season. He’s averaging 18.0 points per game, 4.4 assists, 3.8 rebounds, and 2.3 steals, while shooting 53.5 percent from the field and 31.3 percent from three-point range.

Senior center Udoka Azubuike is an absolute monster in the paint. He’s averaging 12.8 points per game, 9.3 rebounds, 1.3 assists, and 2.4 blocks, while shooting better than 77 percent from the field (granted most of his looks come within five feet of the hoop). Azubuike is guaranteed to be a very difficult matchup for junior Texas center Jericho Sims.

Possibly the go-to guy for Smart and the Longhorns in this game should be sophomore guard Courtney Ramey. It will be on this dynamic Texas guard combination that features Ramey and junior Matt Coleman to shut down Kansas’ featured star Dotson.

Next: 3 goals Shaka Smart should have for 2020

Ramey’s play on the defensive end of the floor is dramatically improved this season. His defensive rating is down to 93.0 and his defensive box plus/minus rating sits at an impressive 2.2 He’ll need to come up big with this stout Longhorns defense against a bona fide top 10 team in the nation.

But Texas can beat Kansas at home at the Erwin Center tomorrow afternoon. The backcourt for the Longhorns is just going to be the most important factor.

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