The No. 23 Kansas Jayhawks are 2-2 over their last four games after starting the season 10-0. One of the losses was to a Nebraska team that is hard to figure out. The Cornhuskers beat now-No. 9 Maryland by 23, putting up 90 points, but recently lost to lowly Rutgers by 12, only putting up 45 points. The loss to the Scarlet Knights was without fourth-leading scorer Allison Weidner, who played against both Maryland and Kansas, but it was still a head-scratcher.
The Jayhawks’ other loss came on Saturday, at home, to now-No. 18 Baylor. The Bears have been the model program in the Big 12 for a long time and are a very good team again this year.
A No. 6 seed in ESPN’s Tuesday Bracketology, Kansas is in good shape in spite of those losses. The Jayhawks were a No. 8 seed that made it to the second round of the NCAA Tournament last year and with Taiyanna Jackson taking her game to a whole new level (team-leading 15.3 points and 12.3 rebounds per game) in 2022-23 to complement returning No. 1 and No. 2 scorers Holly Kersgieter and Zakiyah Franklin, their ceiling is much higher this year.
Now comes an interesting test for Kansas against the preseason-No. 3 Texas Longhorns (11-5, 2-1 Big 12). The Jayhawks and Longhorns clash at 8 p.m. ET Tuesday night in Austin (Longhorn Network).
Just how scary is the team that was supposed to be the scariest in the conference now that it is without Aaliyah Moore for the rest of the season and has lost five games, four of which came against teams not currently ranked and one of which came against a team not currently in ESPN’s projected tournament field? And just how good of a win would it be for the Jayhawks if they can come out on top?
The answers to both of those questions boil down to the fact that Texas is still Texas. The Longhorns may have struggled to live up to expectations during non-conference play, but they opened Big 12 play by bullying Kansas State 87-41 and defeating TCU 81-69. Their Saturday loss by four points at the hands of Oklahoma State (a No. 9 seed in ESPN’s Bracketology) wasn’t that bad and will only motivate them to bring it against Kansas. They still have a big star in Rori Harmon, who is averaging 11.6 points, 4.6 rebounds, 7.1 assists and 2.6 steals, Sonya Morris, Shaylee Gonzales and DeYona Gaston, the last of whom has emerged as the team’s leading scorer at 11.8 points per game.
So Kansas is going to be tested in this road game and, as we’ve seen across the country, anything can happen right now in women’s college basketball. This game is even more important for Texas, as they cling to their spot in the projected tournament field (currently one of the last four byes). It would be a high-quality win for the Longhorns because Jackson and the Jayhawks are no joke.
No. 23 Kansas Jayhawks (12-2, 2-1 Big 12) vs. Texas Longhorns (11-5, 2-1 Big 12)
When: Tuesday, Jan. 10 at 8 p.m. ET
Where: Moody Center in Austin, TX
How to watch/listen: Longhorn Network/Listen (Kansas) or Listen (Texas)
Key to the matchup: Texas’ shooting vs. Kansas’ shooting defense. Texas has strong field goal and 3-point percentages, ranking 23rd and 66th nationally in those categories, respectively. But Kansas ranks 16th and 71st in the defense of those categories, respectively. Kansas’ offense vs. Texas’ defense will of course be half the battle as well, but when it’s Texas shooting and Kansas defending, it will be strength against strength.