- C.L. Brown, ESPN Staff Writer
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Texas roughed up Kansas in their first meeting three weeks ago. If the Jayhawks can return the favor Saturday, they'll take one big step closer to clinching their 10th straight Big 12 title.
The Longhorns lost ground on Kansas when they fell at Iowa State on Tuesday. They trail Kansas by two games in the standings, so a loss would mean a three-game deficit with just four games to go.
It would be a fitting payback if the Jayhawks stomp out Texas’ hope for a share of the league title. The Longhorns handed Kansas its worst defeat of the season, 81-69, when the teams met in Austin. More than just the score, the Horns were physically tougher.
Kansas needed a last-second layup from Andrew Wiggins to escape Lubbock, Texas, earlier this week with a win over Texas Tech. Wiggins will now be looking for redemption against the Longhorns.
He had one of his worst games shooting in the first meeting, going just 2-of-12 before fouling out with seven points. Texas guard Demarcus Holland successfully kept the freshman forward from scoring in transition and getting in the lane. In the five games since that loss, Wiggins has gotten back to business, averaging 17 points per game.
Texas made Kansas center Joel Embiid look soft in their first meeting. Sophomores Cameron Ridley and Prince Ibeh combined to get the best of their matchup, totaling eight blocks. Embiid was sharp in his return to action against Tech after sitting out the TCU game with nagging back and knee injuries. Embiid made 6 of 7 shot attempts en route to 18 points and 8 rebounds.
To have a shot at winning in Allen Fieldhouse for the first time since Jan. 22, 2011, Texas will have to find a way to get better shots from its backcourt than it did in its 85-76 loss to Iowa State.
Freshman guard Isaiah Taylor neared triple-double territory against Iowa State with 26 points, 8 assists and 7 rebounds, but he shot just 8-of-20 from the floor. Sophomore guard Javan Felix was 6-of-22. It made for a tough game offensively for Texas.
The Longhorns’ defense will be the barometer against Kansas. It should be fairly easy to detect which way the game is headed based on the points being scored. The Longhorns have held Big 12 opponents to an average of 66.1 points during their nine conference wins. During their four league losses, they’ve given up an average of 83.5 points.