Kansas-Texas A&M Preview

Kansas seems all but assured of matching its longest streak of

consecutive regular-season conference titles.

A win over one of its nearest Big 12 pursuers would bring that

sixth straight championship a little closer to certainty.

The top-ranked Jayhawks will try to take another step Monday

night by maintaining their perfect mark at Texas A&M.

With six games remaining, Kansas (24-1, 10-0) holds a three-game

lead over the Aggies (18-6, 7-3) and Kansas State. The Jayhawks are

chasing a mark from their days under legendary coach Phog Allen,

who won or shared six consecutive Missouri Valley titles from

1921-27.

Winners of 10 straight, Kansas is also trying to join its

2001-02 squad as the only teams to finish unbeaten in Big 12 play

and record its best regular-season finish since going 29-1 in

1996-97.

Continuing its impressive defensive efforts would aid the

Jayhawks’ pursuit of those milestones. They lead the nation in

opponents’ shooting percentage (36.5 percent) and are giving up

62.8 points per game.

They used that defense to overcome their own shooting

difficulties Saturday night for a 73-59 victory of visiting Iowa

State.

In Bill Self’s 400th victory, Kansas held the Cyclones scoreless

for 4:18 in the second half and turned a two-point lead into a

16-point advantage. The Jayhawks, though, shot 42.4 percent in the

win and 40 percent in an 80-68 victory at Texas on Feb. 8 – far

below their season average of 48.6 percent.

A similar performance could cost them against Texas A&M,

which is attempting to earn a season-high fifth straight win and

seventh in eight games.

In Saturday’s 67-65 victory at Texas Tech, the Aggies took the

lead for good on a 14-4 run in the second half and held on with

four free throws from Donald Sloan and Bryan Davis.

“If they win out and knock us out, they’ll put themselves in

great position to maybe play for the league championship,” Self

said of the Aggies. “I think our guys will be focused going down to

College Station.”

Texas A&M also owns a 16-game home win streak, but the

Aggies haven’t beaten the Jayhawks in six all-time matchups there.

Kansas has won 14 of 15 overall meetings, including a 73-53 blowout

last season.

In that home win, the Jayhawks held the Aggies to their lowest

output of the season on 32.7 percent shooting. No Texas A&M

player scored in double figures, and Sloan, currently fourth in the

Big 12 with 18.3 points per game, was limited to six.

Sloan has averaged 6.3 points in four career matchups against

Kansas.

Aggies coach Mark Turgeon, a former Jayhawks captain and

assistant coach, will have a difficult task in containing a deep

and talented squad.

Kansas boasts preseason All-Americans Sherron Collins and Cole

Aldrich, but sophomore forward Marcus Morris has averaged a

team-best 17.1 points in conference play. He’s scored in double

figures in each of those games and has double-doubles in three of

the past five.

Freshman Xavier Henry has also emerged from a slump with 31

combined points in his last two games. The highly touted guard,

scoring 13.2 points per game, had averaged 6.2 points on 30.6

percent shooting in his previous five contests.

Henry will try to help Kansas to its sixth consecutive road

victory and 23rd in a row over an unranked opponent.

The Aggies, 3-4 this season against Top 25 squads, are 0-4

all-time versus No. 1 teams. However, they lost 72-67 in overtime

to previously top-ranked Texas on Jan. 16.