Texas/Kansas State Preview (ESPN+, 6PM); COVID issues affecting KSU roster
Line: Texas -6.5, O/U 123
COVID issues affecting KSU's roster will impact the game heavily.
The Longhorns take their show on the road on Tuesday night to take on the Kansas State Wildcats in Manhattan (the one in Kansas, not the one in New York). Kansas State is 8-4 on the season with no real notable wins outside of Wichita State.
They've taken losses from Arkansas, Illinois, Marquette, and Oklahoma on the year so far, but haven't taken a loss of more than eight points, so they hang in these games and play competitively. Look for them to do the same against Texas tonight, even if Texas does win. KSU is scrappy - they are ready for a fight. This is evident in their two-point loss to Oklahoma, where they found themselves down 15 points early in the second half and clawed their way back in before ultimately falling just short.
The Wildcats play a slow pace as well, at 238th in the country, and rank 213th in PPG at 70.8, so watch for this one to be a slugfest throughout. Partially due to their pace, they rank 31st in scoring defense at 60.4 per game, so we will see how the Longhorns handle one of the better defenses they've seen this year.
Despite these numbers, Kansas State lacks size in general, and only block 1.7 shots per game as a team, meaning Texas should be able to take to them in the paint with Allen, Mitchell, Disu, and Bishop. They won't have to rely as heavily on guards' scoring, as they did against WVU.
Here is the Wildcats' starting lineup.
KSU's top three players are their guards, Nowell, Pack, and Smith. Smith had a monster performance in the aforementioned Oklahoma game, where he went for 25 points and 16 boards. Pack is their leading scorer, and hits an impressive 42% from three. In order to win, Texas is going to need to apply the no-middle concepts and force these guards to the baseline and sidelines, trying to deny them the ball in any kind of situation that lends itself to open shots, especially with Pack.
Here's Texas' starting lineup.
What I'd like to see out of this game:
• Continued use of transition.
Last game, Texas forced 20 turnovers and converted them into multiple transition opportunities, pushing the pace and letting their guards play more freely. It resulted in an offensive explosion from Carr, Ramey, and Jones, who combined for 49 points in the win, and 27 in the first half, outscoring WV as a team. The more reps they get playing uptempo, the better. They're going to need it throughout conference play.
• Continued improved shooting from three.
Texas shot 9/24 against WV on Saturday, which isn't bad at 37.5%, but their first half shooting from deep, 6/11, is really what they should be striving for. Obviously, you're not going to shoot 50%+ from three, but being a consistent threat to shoot from deep opens things up across the floor and forces the opponent to guard the perimeter so they can't collapse and help on inside scorers like Texas' forwards. The more threes they hit, the more room Mitchell/Disu/Allen/Bishop have to operate.
• More minutes for Disu.
Disu didn't play much against WV, as he tweaked something, but it was not a serious injury and Coach Beard said in his press conference that he was fully good to go. Disu is a huge threat inside as a shot-blocker, in addition to his scoring prowess and elite rebounding ability. He's such a threat on both sides of the ball. It's hard to think he won't crack the starting lineup eventually if Texas ever decides to go back to a three-forward lineup (they have done so once, where they started Carr-Ramey-Bishop-Allen-Mitchell). I'd like to see 20 minutes from him tonight, as he's been working his way up to around that mark.