Busting Brackets

Kansas Basketball: 3 keys to victory for the Jayhawks against Houston

The Kansas Jayhawks will take on the nation’s best defensive team in a top-ten matchup on Saturday.

Kansas v West Virginia
Kansas v West Virginia / G Fiume/GettyImages
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In a weekend stacked with top-ten matchups, such as North Carolina versus Duke and Kentucky versus Tennessee, Kelvin Sampson’s tough-nosed Houston Cougars traveling to the Phog might just take the cake as it holds severe Big 12-regular season title implications in an early February clash.

Houston, standing at 19-2 (6-2) on the year, is currently riding a five-game win streak after a most recent 76-72 gritty overtime win in Austin over the Texas Longhorns.

Led by senior guard Jamal Shead (12.3 PPG, 5.8 APG), alongside Baylor transfer LJ Cryer (15.1 PPG), Emanuel Sharp (12.2 PPG, 4.1 RPG) and J’Wan Roberts (8.7 PPG, 7.1 RP), the Cougars boast the nation’s best defense with a KenPom adjusted defensive efficiency rating at 84.5 -- six increments better than second-best defensive team in the country.

Meanwhile in Lawrence, Kansas stands at 17-4 (5-3) on the year with all of their three Big 12 losses coming on the road -- at UCF, at West Virginia, at Iowa State.

With a quartet of Hunter Dickinson (18.7 PPG, 11.2 RPG), Kevin McCullar (19.8 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 4.7 APG), KJ Adams (12.8 PPG, 4.8 RPG) and Dajuan Harris (7.4 PPG, 6.9 APG) alongside a somewhat-recent emergence of Johnny Furphy, the Jayhawks remain a very dangerous college basketball team despite its lack of depth.

With a tip time of 3:00 p.m. (central time) on Saturday, Feb. 3rd on ESPN, the nation’s eyes will be focused on the action in Lawrence as Kansas looks to gain some breathing room in the crowded Big 12 and continue to build their resume.

The Jayhawks already boast five Q1 wins on the year but do have a Q3 loss on their resume. With a NET ranking of 13, a win over Houston can catapult the Jayhawks into the Top 10 of the NET for the first time since Dec. 21, according to CollegePollTracker.com

With that being said, here are three keys for a Kansas Jayhawk victory over the Houston Cougars.