Preview: Kansas hopes to rebound against Texas A&M in Big 12/SEC Challenge

Coming off a close 85-80 loss to the Oklahoma Sooners on Tuesday night, Kansas looks to rebound in the Big/SEC Challenge as they welcome Texas A&M into Allen Fieldhouse on Saturday, Jan. 27.

The Aggies are an interesting case in that they have been one of the most inconsistent teams in the country. They started with quality wins against West Virginia and USC. Yet, they went on to start 0-5 in the SEC.

At one point, the Aggies rose to No. 5 in the AP Poll, yet now sit at 13-7, forcing everyone to wonder how good this team actually is.

Texas A&M is third in the nations in rebounds (42.4 RPG), which could prove to be troublesome for Kansas considering the much talked about lack of depth inside. Also, the Aggies’ scoring is pretty even as their leading scorer is junior forward Tyler Davis, averaging 14.4 PPG.

With that said, the Aggies have not scored over 75 points in their last six games, which will be problematic if Kansas gets on a trademark hot streak.

The Jayhawks, on the other hand, senior guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk and redshirt sophomore guard Malik Newman will need to continue their hot offensive streaks. Mykhailiuk is currently shooting over 47% from three-point range this season and Newman scoring 44 points in his last two games.

For the Jayhawks to win, though, the big men will have to be managed better than on Tuesday. Potentially down the road, other teams may institute a “Poke-A-Doke” strategy similar to what Oklahoma did against Kansas. Coach Bill Self will have to iron out his rotation in order to not waste key offensive possessions down the stretch.

Defensively, Kansas will still have to continue to crack down defensively. Recently, the Jayhawks have gotten a little too comfortable in games against Baylor and Iowa State at home this season.

Every game needs to be a slight improvement on both sides of the ball, especially for freshman forward Silvio De Sousa who will be relied on more as the season progresses.

However, Kansas should win this game handily as they have superior talent, even with their struggles at home this season. This game could be close, but I fully expect Kansas to pull at the end when it counts, not having to rely on missing or making free throws.

My prediction:

87-78 Kansas over Texas A&M

This should be an entertaining match-up and should be a good tuneup for the Jayhawks as they get ready for a huge game on the road against Kansas State in Manhattan on Monday night.

Catch this Big 12/SEC Challenge game on KJHK 90.7 FM. Pregame coverage starts at 2:30 pm with tip-off set for 3:30 pm.

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