The Kansas Jayhawks are looking to win at least a share of the Big 12 regular season title for the 15th straight year. Kansas got off to a good start with a win over rival Oklahoma in its conference opener, but a loss to Iowa State this weekend has the Jayhawks looking up at other undefeated teams in the standings. They must avoid a loss if they want to continue their incredible conference run when they face the TCU Horned Frogs this Wednesday night.
Jamie Dixon might be without four players for TCU’s road trip to Lawrence. The Horned Frogs announced that guard Dylan Arnette would redshirt back in December, but that position recently received another blow when reserve guard Kaden Archie announced his intention to transfer on Saturday. Archie had been averaging 10 minutes a game, so other players will be asked to play more minutes in his absence.
Additionally, the Horned Frogs may not have starting guard Jaylen Fisher and reserve forward Yuat Alok. Fisher has been dealing with a knee issue that has sidelined him for the team’s tilt against Baylor, while Alok hurt his right hand against Charlotte in late December and has been out for the last two weeks. Both players are questionable.
The NCAA continues to toy with the eligibility of freshman forward Silvio De Sousa. De Sousa was mentioned in the Adidas scandal, but nothing has been conclusively proven against him, so he has been forced to remain in a state of limbo while the NCAA sits on its hands. Kansas could really use him now though given the loss of Udoka Azubuike. The star center tore ligaments in his hand during practice, and he will be out the remainder of the season.
Kansas is a 6.5-point favorite against TCU per the CBB betting odds, while the over/under is 151 points.
What’s at Stake?
TCU is out to prove it should be ranked. Dixon has said as much in recent press conferences, but the Horned Frogs have yet to beat anyone of note. Their biggest wins thus far were on the road against SMU and at a neutral site against USC, while they lost to tiny Lipscomb at home back in November. Ken Pomeroy ranks their non-conference schedule outside the top 200, so they will need to beat some Big 12 opponents before they break into the rankings.
The Jayhawks have been unstoppable at Allen Fieldhouse over the years. While Kansas has had some hiccups on the road, their home atmosphere is the class of the conference and that has helped fuel their run of conference titles. A loss here would drop them to 1-2 in conference play this year.
This will be TCU’s first true road game outside the state of Texas. The Horned Frogs were 3-7 in true road games last season, and Dixon knows that the next step for this team is to get them performing well on the road. In their last game, they were able to hold off a strong run from Baylor in the second half to pick up a narrow 85-81 victory.
Kansas is far more battle tested than its opponent. This team already has great wins over Michigan State, Tennessee, Villanova, and Oklahoma this year, but the 17-point road loss to Iowa State in Ames was a humbling one. The Cyclones forced 24 turnovers and exploded from beyond the arc, and the Jayhawks will have worked on both those areas in practice.
Without Azubuike in the middle to spell him, Dedric Lawson is going to play a lot of minutes. Kansas doesn’t have quality big men aside from him, so the onus will be on him to produce. Lawson has been great so far with 18.6 PPG and 11.1 RPG, but his numbers have taken a dip over the last couple weeks. He finished with 13 points or fewer in each of Kansas’ last three games.
Alex Robinson is TCU’s leader on offense. Robinson has helped open up the offense more than we have seen in recent years, and he is averaging nearly nine assists per game for the Horned Frogs. He is very good at getting off his own shot and can shoot from range, but he is more comfortable in his role as a distributor.
The under is my favorite bet here. Kansas has one of the best defenses in the country, and Bill Self will have this team ready to guard the perimeter after laying an egg in Ames.