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Getting to know: Texas Southern basketball
Picked to win the Southwestern Athletic Conference, Texas Southern is off to an 0-4 start against three Power Five opponents and last year's national runner-up.
Playing one of the toughest non-conference schedules in the country heading into Tuesday night’s game against Kansas (7 p.m., Jayhawk TV/ESPN3), the Tigers have lost to Gonzaga, Washington State (overtime), Ohio State and Syracuse. They only returned three players from last year’s rotation, which has inevitably led to growing pains.
One of those returners, sophomore Demontrae Jefferson, has missed the last two games because of a suspension. Jefferson, the team’s leading scorer, did not travel with the team in its road loss to Syracuse last weekend. He averaged 21 points in the first two games.
The game is the first of three campus games for the Jayhawks as a part of the HoopHall Miami Invitational.
“They're better than their record,” Kansas coach Bill Self said.
Fun fact: As noted by football columnist Peter King of The MMQB, the Tigers will not play a home game until 2018. As its done for the last two years, Texas Southern uses its non-conference schedule to raise money for the program through buy games. Road games by time zone: Eastern (Ohio State, Syracuse, Clemson, Oakland, Toledo), Central (Kansas, Baylor, TCU), Mountain (Wyoming, BYU) and Pacific (Gonzaga, Washington State, Oregon).
Series history: Kansas leads 3-0. The Jayhawks won their last meeting in 1985 in overtime, 78-74. KU is 15-0 against members of the SWAC.
BREAKING DOWN TEXAS SOUTHERN
No. 1 — G Donte Clark | 6-4, 195, sr.
A graduate transfer from UMass, Clark is averaging 18 points, eight rebounds and 3.5 assists through the first four games. He’s shooting 40 percent from the field, including a 30.4 rate at the 3-point line.
Clark, from Charlotte, originally committed to Coastal Carolina before ending up at Texas Southern for his final collegiate season. He declared for the NBA Draft following the end of last season, but never hired an agent to allow himself a chance to return.
According to hoop-math.com, Clark attempts more shots at the rim (33 percent) than nearly every player on the team. He averaged a team-high 12.6 points for UMass last season.
- "I feel like most players want to play the big schools," Clark said. "I've played ACC and SEC schools, so it's nothing I haven't seen before."
No. 5 — C Trayvon Reed | 7-2, 240, r-jr.
A Top 100, four-star prospect out of high school, Reed transferred from Auburn where he played sparingly in the 2014-15 season. In 30.5 minutes per game, Reed is averaging 11 points and 9.3 rebounds. He’s converted on 67 percent of his shots and has a team-high four blocks.
Out of high school, he originally committed to Maryland but was denied enrollment for failing to meet athletic department standards stemming from an arrest.
No. 4 — F Kevin Scott | 6-4, 205, sr.
From Omaha, Scott bounced around at a few junior colleges before arriving at Texas Southern. In four starts this season, Scott is averaging 11.3 points and 3.3 assists. He’s only shooting 21.1 percent from the 3-point arc in 19 attempts.
Scott, who prides himself on doing the team’s dirty work, earned second-team all-SWAC honors at the end of last season. He was a 44 percent 3-point shooter last year.
ONE THING TEXAS SOUTHERN DOES WELL
Playing one of the tougher non-conference schedules in the country, Texas Southern doesn’t stand out statistically in most categories. But the Tigers have done a decent job of making it to the free-throw line. They are shooting 69 percent at the charity stripe in 78 attempts.
ONE AREA TEXAS SOUTHERN STRUGGLES
Outside of Clark and Reed, the Tigers really have trouble rebounding the ball. They’ve been out-rebounded in every game, including a negative-22 margin against Gonzaga. Through four games, Texas Southern has grabbed 33 offensive boards, well below the 64 offensive rebounds its allowed to opponents.
MEET THE COACH
Mike Davis is in his sixth season as head coach at Texas Southern, which includes three NCAA Tournament appearances. His stint with the Tigers follows six seasons at UAB.
Davis is most known for replacing Bobby Knight at Indiana in 2000 and leading the Hoosiers to the national title game in his second season — a 12-point loss to Maryland.
No line was set by Tuesday morning. Unlike South Dakota State last week, I don’t think the Tigers present many tough matchups for the Jayhawks. They have undersized forwards and a 7-footer who isn’t capable of shooting from the perimeter. The Jayhawks should feel comfortable in their four-guard lineup and I think they will be more rested than they were last week.
My prediction: Kansas 93, Texas Southern 57. Bobby’s record vs. the spread: 1-2.