Despite suspensions, injuries
and losing key players from last season, the Kansas Jayhawks
are in position to win a seventh consecutive Big 12 Conference title.
The second-ranked Jayhawks host 24th-rated Texas A&M at 6 p.m. (PT) Wednesday on ESPN2, preceded by the UConn, West Virginia battle in Morgantown.
Point guard and assists leader Tyshawn Taylor is the latest Kansas player suspended.
The 27-2 Jayhawks keep winning despite their internal troubles thanks to twin brothers Marcus and Markieff Morris, Brady Morningstar and Tyrel Reed, the only player to start all of Kansas’ games.
Kansas is 10th-best in defending against 3-pointers, but its trademark is offense.
The Jayhawks currently rank fourth in the nation in points at 83.8 per game, are No. 1 in field goal percentage at 52.3 and tops in assists per game at 18.4. If you discount an 84-68 defeat to Kansas State, the Jayhawks are averaging 89 points during their past nine games.
The ‘over’ has cashed in nine of the Jayhawks’ last 10 games. The Jayhawks have gone ‘over’ in 18 of their 27 games versus ‘lined’ opponents.
The Jayhawks are 60-5 during the past two seasons. Kansas is winning by an average of 18.8 points per game this season. The Jayhawks are 12-2 in the Big 12, one-half game ahead of Texas. The Longhorns are 12-3 in league after losing to Kansas State this past Monday night.
Kansas concludes its regular season at Missouri on Saturday.
Texas A&M is third in the conference at 9-5. The Aggies are led by Khris Middleton, Nathan Walkup and B.J. Holmes. Nobody averages more than 14 points per game, though.
The Aggies win with a tenacious defense that surrenders just 60.5 points per game, which is 15th-best in the country. In matchups versus ‘board’ opponents, the Aggies are 12-7-1 to the ‘under.’
Texas A&M had won five in a row until losing 58-51 to Baylor this past Saturday as three-point road ‘dogs. The combined 109 points went ‘under’ the 127 ½-point total.
It was only the fourth time in 24 games the Aggies lost when allowing fewer than 70 points this season. The Bears held Texas A&M to 35 percent shooting from the floor, the Aggies’ third-worst shooting percentage this season.
The Aggies, who finish their regular season at home on Saturday against Texas Tech, have a history of finishing strong in the Big 12 under coach Mark Turgeon.
Texas A&M went 6-2 each of the last two seasons during the final eight regular-season Big 12 games. The Aggies are 5-1 this season during the second half of their Big 12 slate.
Defense has been a trademark of the Aggies under Turgeon, who is in his fourth season. The Aggies are the only team, besides Pittsburgh, to win an NCAA Tournament game in each of the past five seasons.
The Aggies held Kansas and Texas to season-low in points last season, although losing 59-54 at home to the Jayhawks covering as 6 ½-point underdogs. The combined 113 points dipped well ‘under’ the 141-point total.
Kansas also defeated Texas A&M, 79-66, in the conference tournament last season as nine-point favorites in Kansas City. The combined 145 points went ‘over’ the 134 ½-point total.
The Jayhawks reached 27 wins for the fifth consecutive season defeating Oklahoma, 82-70, this past Saturday failing to cover as 14-point road favorites. The combined 152 points went ‘over’ the 144-point mark.
The Morris brothers combined for 42 points and 19 rebounds in the victory. The Jayhawks were missing Taylor, who sat out a second straight game for violating unspecified team rules.
Markieff Morris leads the Big 12 in rebounding pulling down 8.4 boards per game. He is second in the conference in field goal percentage at 60.2 behind his brother, Marcus, who is making 60.7 percent of his shots.