College Basketball: Nebraska at Kansas – Jayhawks Favored
The ninth-ranked Jayhawks (22-4, 9-2) have won three straight games by an average of 24.6 points. That’s helped Kansas to a share of the conference lead with No. 6 Texas A&M, the last team to beat the Jayhawks, 69-66 on Feb. 3.
Oddsmakers have made Kansas -16 point spread favorites
Texas A&M, which lost Tuesday to Texas Tech, plays at Oklahoma on Saturday.
Kansas should keep its strong play going against Nebraska (15-9, 4-6). The Jayhawks have won seven in a row over the Cornhuskers and 16 of the last 17 meetings, including a 76-56 road victory on Jan. 29. Nebraska has lost seven in a row at Kansas’ Allen Fieldhouse since Feb. 10, 1999.
During their current three-game win streak, the Jayhawks have shot 52.8 percent from the field while holding opponents to 36.4 percent. They’ve also controlled the boards recently, outrebounding the opposition by an average of 15.0 over the past five games, including a 47-21 margin against Nebraska.
Kansas’ strong defense was the difference in a 75-46 win at Colorado on Wednesday that moved the team into a tie atop the Big 12. It was the fewest points and lowest shooting percentage (27.3) the Jayhawks have allowed in conference play.
"We’re happy to be tied, we still have to play Nebraska," Kansas coach Bill Self said. "We need to build off this win and keep moving forward."
Self’s squad had a different leading scorer for the fourth straight game as guard Russell Robinson had 14 points and six assists.
Center Sasha Kaun responded after being benched to start the second half due to a scoreless, one-rebound performance in the first 20 minutes. Kaun scored 10 points and added eight more rebounds after returning.
"He wasn’t playing and not going after balls, so I just thought it would be good for him to just sit over there," Self said.
"And I thought he played about as well as anybody in the game in the second half."
Sophomore Brandon Rush, the team’s top scorer at 14.3 points per game, failed to score in double figures for the first time in 13 games Wednesday but had 20 points and eight rebounds in the last meeting with the Cornhuskers.
Kansas will try to keep Nebraska’s Aleks Maric in check once again. The junior center from Australia averages a team-high 17.7 points, but was held to nine against the Jayhawks last month.
However, Maric is coming off a career-high 41 points in Tuesday’s 74-63 win over Kansas State. It was one point off the school record set by Eric Piatkowski during the 1993-94 season.
"I’ve been having some slow starts in the past few games, but I can’t dwell on that," said Maric, who scored 17 of Nebraska’s first 21 points. "Every day I come to practice, work hard, and every game I work hard."
The Cornhuskers, who have won three of four, hit 57.5 percent from the field for their best shooting game of the conference season. They shot 39.1 percent against the Jayhawks and trailed 43-16 at halftime.
Nebraska, though, is excited about Saturday’s rematch.
"We won’t come out and play scared or tentative in the first half," guard Charles Richardson Jr. said. "We’re looking forward to the opportunity and we’re going to go out there and compete hard and go for the win."
Nebraska has won its last two Big 12 road games – against Missouri and Texas Tech. It is 1-2 against ranked teams, beating then-No. 20 Creighton 73-61 on Nov. 18.
by: Marc Young – theSpread.com – Email Us
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