Preview: Texas A&M at Kansas

I don't think there's much, if any, separation between Texas A&M and Kansas in terms of quality as their play in Big 12 games demonstrates:

Team Record OffEff DefEff Diff
Kansas 6-1 109 90 +19
Texas A&M 6-1 109 91 +18

The difference between these teams through 7 conference games might well be down to rounding. Though it could be that Texas A&M has been a bit unlucky with their opponents' free throw shooting. Then again, they could be fouling the wrong people.


(Big 12 games only)

Team eFG% OR% TO% FT Rate FT% PPP
KU off 54.7 33.3 21.3 21.8 69.7 1.09
A&M def 42.4 25.4 21.8 45.1 75.8 0.91

However, I don't think that Texas A&M matches up especially well offensively against Kansas. Joseph Jones is the type of undersized post player (see also: Boggan, Mario) against whom Sasha Kaun can be an especially useful defender. Effectively guarding Acie Law (31.7 Pts/100, 9.7 A/100), Josh Carter (25.8 Pts/100), and Antanas Kavaliauskas (27.9 Pts/100) simultaneously will be the real test for Kansas. (No disrespect to Dominique Kirk, who makes the majority of the few shots he takes and rarely turns the ball over but is clearly the Aggies' fifth option unless he's on the court during the brief appearances of Donald Sloan or Marlon Pompey.)

Perimeter defense is generally a strength of this Kansas team, especially so when the opponent tends not to shoot that many three-pointers. On the year, Texas A&M takes 28.8% of its field goal attempts from beyond the three-point line. In Big 12 play that's down to 24.9%. Of course, limiting Jones's shot attempts may force Texas A&M to shoot more threes as their big man is not turnover-prone (3.9 TO/100).


(Big 12 games only)

Team eFG% OR% TO% FT Rate FT% PPP
A&M off 51.2 29.6 19.8 40.8 77.5 1.09
KU def 44.9 28.7 23.8 35.2 64.1 0.90

If the game isn't decided at the free throw line (and one team is almost assured to have an abnormally positive or negative night at relative to their respective averages in league play) then I suspect that frequency with which Texas A&M turns the ball over will be the key factor. The Aggies don't turn it over very often and Kansas needs to force turnovers to complete an effective defensive performance. To illustrate this, I present the Rhode Island and Missouri games. Both of those teams shot 45 eFG% or worse in the Fieldhouse but neither turned the ball over more than 19% of the time resulting in the Jayhawks allowing 100 and 97 points per 100 possessions, respectively. I think we can all agree that Texas A&M presents a more threatening offense than either of those teams.

Thus far, Kansas has been slightly better than A&M against their three common opponents (efficiency margin per 100 possessions):

Opp KU A&M
Oklahoma St +38 +26
@Baylor +36 +19
@Texas Tech -9 -6

I doubt we learn much about either team unless Texas A&M wins by a substantial margin. With teams as evenly matched and defensively adept as these two, I don't expect substantial margins to enter into it.

Prediction: Kansas 68 Texas A&M 64