Archive for Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Jayhawks, Longhorns struggling on road

Fortunately for Kansas, tonight’s game is in Allen Fieldhouse, but it’s no gimme

February 27, 2008

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Misery loves company, and Kansas University's women's basketball team isn't alone as Big 12 Conference road kill.

The Jayhawks haven't been able to win a league game away from home, but neither has Texas. Kansas is 0-7 on the Big 12 road while Texas is 0-6.

"Both of us," KU coach Bonnie Henrickson said, "are agonizing over turnovers."

Kansas hopes to add to the Longhorns' agony tonight. Tipoff will be at 7 p.m. in Allen Fieldhouse. Sunflower Broadband channel 6 will carry a live telecast.

Texas may have turnover woes, but the 'Horns have been better than Kansas at protecting the ball. In fact, every league team has. Kansas ranks last in Big 12 turnover stats with an average of 19.8 a game.

"We're in all these one-possession games," Henrickson said, "and we throw it away. It's alarming. It's tremendously frustrating."

Like last Sunday at Missouri when 19 Kansas giveaways translated into 21 Mizzou points and a 62-59 defeat. That three-point victory ended the Tigers' 10-game losing skid, although it didn't enable them to climb out of the conference basement.

Kansas and Texas will go into tonight's game with identical 4-9 conference records, meaning both teams still are jockeying for seeds in the Big 12 Tournament.

"We've hurt ourselves for the postseason," Henrickson said about back-to-back road losses at Texas Tech and Missouri, "but we can help our seed in the last three games. There's still a lot of wiggle room."

One bright spot for the Jayhawks has been Nicollette Smith. A 6-2 freshman from Tulsa, Okla., Smith has scored in double figures in the last three games and has emerged as the Jayhawks' most reliable "Sixth Man."

"Absolutely," Henrickson said. "Off the bench, she's made the biggest impact."

Smith's 15 points at Missouri were the most she's scored in a game since her college debut, when she collected 19 points against Hartford in the season opener.

"She hit the freshman wall for awhile," Henrickson said, "but she's turned the corner. She's become pretty sound. I'm proud of her."

Smith leads KU in three-point goals with 39 while shooting a respectable 34.5 percent from behind the arc.

KU's last opportunity to win a league road game will come Saturday at Iowa State. Then the Jayhawks will close the regular season at home a week from tonight against Kansas State.

The Big 12 Conference tournament will begin March 11 at Kansas City's Municipal Auditorium.

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