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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

Texas A&M utility Gavin Grahovac (9) throws the ball during A&Ms game against Georgia on Friday, April 26, 2024, at Olsen Field. (CJ Smith/The Battalion)
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Around the Country: Men’s basketball

Marquee matchups to watch this week
Photo by Ishika Samant
Texas A&M starting five during Texas A&M’s game against Missouri on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2024, in Reed Arena. (Ishika Samant/The Battalion)

No. 20 Texas Tech at No. 11 Oklahoma

Saturday, Jan. 27 — Lloyd Noble Center — Norman, Oklahoma

1 p.m. on ESPN+

Fresh off a home loss against Texas on Jan. 23, the No. 11 Oklahoma Sooners will need to defend home court against another Texas team in the form of the Red Raiders.

No. 20 Texas Tech has been dangerous this year, going 15-3 and 4-1 in conference play, leading the Big 12 ahead of top-billing teams such as No. 4 Houston and No. 7 Kansas.

Though the Red Raiders haven’t stood out in significant ways, ranking in the middle of the pack in points per game and opponents points per game, they stand proudly at the top in the Big 12 in lowest personal fouls committed and No. 7 in the country. On top of that, Tech stands nicely at No. 69 in 3-pointers made at 8.7 per game.

Through the little details, the Lubbock ball club has gone on a roll, beating No. 20 Texas, Kansas State and No. 20 BYU.

On the flip side, the Sooners started off the season blazing hot, winning their first 10 games since conference play started. However they’ve looked rocky since, dropping games to TCU, No. 3 Kansas and Texas.

Like Tech, there’s nothing special when it comes to getting buckets and getting stops. It lies in the other numbers in free throw percentage and defensive rating.

The Sooners are just behind Tech in free throw percentage in the conference and sit No. 4 in the conference in defensive rating.

They’re led by the guard tandem of sophomore Otega Oweh and junior Javian McCollum. McCollum leads the way at the charity stripe, knocking down 91% of his free throws, and Oweh’s efficiency has gone up since last year, shooting 54.5% from the field and a remarkable 56.7% from 3, granted he doesn’t take many threes.

With a marquee matchup brewing in Norman, Oklahoma, all things point to Oklahoma losing to its second Texas team in back-to-back games.

Prediction: Texas Tech, 71, Oklahoma 62

No. 7 Kansas at No. 23 Iowa State

Saturday, Jan. 27 — Hilton Coliseum — Ames, Iowa

12:30 p.m. on CBS

January has been like no other for the No. 7 Jayhawks.

So far this Kansas squad, led by long-time Coach Bill Self, has been upset twice this month by unranked opponents in UCF and West Virginia. Despite this bizarre statistic, Kansas remains in the Top-10, pushing back two-loss Auburn to No.8.

Defense — or lack thereof — and poor rebounding, have been the Achilles’s heel of the Jayhawks so far this season. Kansas ranks 86th in scoring defense, allowing opponents to score 67.7 points per game, and 305th in offensive rebounds with only 8.58 a game.

The Cyclones currently rank 4th in the Big 12, right behind Kansas, Houston and Texas Tech.. Iowa State’s defense ranks among the elite, holding opponents to 39.6% field goal percentage per game, and ranks 6th in scoring defense with 61.1 points a game.

The major highlight for this Big 12 Conference matchup will be the Jayhawks’ offense against the stout Iowa State defense. Kansas’ field goal percentage is 4th in the country at 50.82%.

However, the Jayhawks will be on the road, and susceptible to the “Hilton Magic” of the Hilton Coliseum, known for its hostile environment and multiple upsets.

Even Vegas smells an upset brewing in Ames, with the odds having the Cyclones as a 7.5-point favorite over Coach Self’s crew.

Prediction: Iowa State 72, Kansas 68

No. 4 Houston at Texas

Monday, Jan. 29 — Moody Center — Austin

8 p.m. on ESPN

The Cougars came into Big 12 play undefeated and started off their conference slate with a 34-point win over West Virginia. However, Houston then dropped two-straight games to Iowa State and TCU.

Since then, the Cougars have won three consecutive games, including wins over No. 25 Texas Tech and No. 21 BYU. They still have a matchup with Kansas State this weekend before facing the Longhorns, but the conference newcomers are one of the elite teams in the country.

Although led by some of the best guard play in the nation, the staple of coach Kelvin Sampson’s team is defense. Houston holds opponents to 51.9 points per game, which is the best scoring defense, with Virginia coming in second at 58.1 opponents points a game.

Texas started off the season ranked No. 18, but slowly fell out of the rankings after a 1-3 start in the conference. However, the Longhorns have since pulled off wins over No. 9 Baylor and No. 11 Oklahoma.

Texas has a date with BYU before facing Houston, but a big part of its success can come down to the stellar play from graduate guard Max Abmas. Abmas leads the team in scoring at 17.9 points a game and averages a team-high 4.4 assists.

However, Abmas isn’t a one-man army as the Longhorns have a deep rotation with nine players averaging double digits in minutes. Texas also shoots the ball well as a team at 48.5% while making nearly 38% of its 3-pointers, which will be interesting to see against an elite defensive team in Houston.

Prediction: Houston 65, Texas 60

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About the Contributors
Justin Chen
Justin Chen, Sports Writer
Justin Chen is a journalism senior minoring in sport management and communication. Justin has covered football, men's basketball, volleyball, baseball and swim & dive. Justin also writes feature NBA pieces and covered the Miami Heat for Sir Charles In Charge. When not writing, he likes to frequent the gym, support Arsenal and watch anime.
Eli Meschko
Eli Meschko, Sports Writer
Eli Meschko is a journalism senior from Boerne, Texas, and is minoring in communication and sports management. Eli has covered football, men's basketball, baseball, softball, hockey and track & field. Eli also writes for Dave Campbell's Texas Football as an intern. After graduation, Eli plans on pursuing a career in sports media or public relations.
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