Wednesday night gives us a battle of top-25 teams from the Big 12 as the no. 7 Kansas Jayhawks host the no. 25 TCU Horned Frogs. The Jayhawks are listed as 6.5-point favorites at home.
The Horned Frogs have been close to perfect this season in Jamie Dixon’s second season at the helm. They suffered a puzzling loss to Lipscomb back in November but have won every other game this season to sit at 12-1. Last time out, TCU survived a late comeback from Baylor to beat the Bears in their conference opener 85-81.
As for Kansas, they are coming off a terrible 77-60 loss to Iowa State. That loss coincided with the loss of center Udoka Azubuike, who suffered a season-ending hand injury in practice the day before the game. Prior to that loss, the Jayhawks were 12-1 with wins over Michigan State, Tennessee, Villanova, and Oklahoma. However, Kansas now has to prove they can win without Azubuike.
A Different Team
The loss of Azubuike can’t be overstated. The 7’1’’ big man was averaging over 13 points and nearly seven rebounds per game. He’s a force at both ends of the floor and one of the team’s more experienced players. Due to an ankle injury that kept him sidelined earlier this season, Kansas has actually played five games without him this season. However, both of their losses occurred during those five games. The Jayhawks are clearly a different team without Azubuike.
Without Azubuike, the Jayhawks have little size inside. Their starting lineup without him consists of four guards who are 6’5’’ or shorter with 6’9’’ forward Dedric Lawson being the only true frontcourt player on the floor. The other big men on the Kansas roster all average less than 10 minutes per game and don’t make much of an impact. As a result, the Jayhawks are now a perimeter-oriented team without much of an inside presence outside of Lawson.
Spread the Wealth
While Dixon has made defense the calling card of his teams throughout his career, this year’s TCU team is quite potent offensively. The Horned Frogs are fresh off an 85-point performance against Baylor, who’s one of the best defensive teams in the Big 12. TCU isn’t afraid to get out in transition and push the ball up and down the court. Obviously, Kansas will look to do the same with their four-guard lineup, but the Horned Frogs will be happy to test themselves in a track meet with the Jayhawks.
Despite guard Jaylen Fisher being questionable to play Wednesday because of a nagging knee injury, the Horned Frogs still have four players who average double figures in scoring. TCU’s rotation is a little short due to injuries, so the Horned Frogs may need to relax their defensive intensity just a little so they don’t pick up any cheap fouls. However, TCU may have enough scorers to keep pace with Kansas in a high-scoring game.
Not So Fast
Based on their loss to Iowa State, the Jayhawks still have a lot to learn about playing without Azubuike. On Wednesday, they’ll play a team that’s just as good. Even if Kansas wins, it’ll be a struggle for them. Bet on TCU beating the 6.5-point spread against Kansas on Wednesday.