Basketball

Game Preview and Open Thread: Texas Tech vs. Kansas

The Red Raiders travel to Allen Fieldhouse.

Date: Saturday, January 7th
Time: 6:15 pm
Good Guys: Texas Tech Red Raiders (12-2, 1-1)
Bad Guys: Kansas Jayhawks (13-1, 2-0)
Location: Allen Fieldhouse | Lawrence Kansas
TV/Stream: ESPN2 (WatchESPN App)
Radio/Stream: 97.3 FM/104.3 FM/950 AM

TEXAS TECH
THE STARTERS Pts / Reb
POINT GUARD Devon Thomas (6-0/170) 5.1 / 3.9*
SHOOTING GUARD Kennan Evans (6-3/180) 13.4 / 3.4*
SMALL FORWARD Justin Gray (6-6/210) 9.6 / 5.9
POWER FORWARD Zach Smith (6-8/220) 12.1 / 7.9
CENTER Anthony Livingston (6-9/260) 12.9 / 4.8
THE BENCH Pts / Reb
SIXTH MAN Aaron Ross (6-8/225) 10.8 / 3.2
SEVENTH MAN Niem Stevenson (6-6/205) 7.8 / 2.8
EIGHTH MAN Shadell Millinghaus (6-2/195) 7.0 / 2.7
NINTH MAN Norense Odiase (6-9/255) 4.0 / 1.0
TENTH MAN Matthew Temple (6-10/240) 3.0 / 1.8
KANSAS
THE STARTERS Pts / Reb
POINT GUARD Frank Mason III (5-11/190) 19.5 / 5.8*
SHOOTING GUARD Devonte’ Graham (6-2/185) 12.5 / 4.6*
SMALL FORWARD Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (6-8/205) 11.1 / 2.9
POWER FORWARD Josh Jackson (6-7/207) 15.2 / 6.4
CENTER Landen Lucas (6-10/250) 7.4 / 7.0
THE BENCH Pts / Reb
SIXTH MAN Lagerald Vick (6-5/175) 8.9 / 3.5
SEVENTH MAN Carlton Bragg Jr. (6-10/240) 7.0 / 5.7
EIGHTH MAN Mitch Lightfoot (6-8/210) 1.3 / 1.3
NINTH MAN Dwight Coleby (6-9/240) 1.3 / 2.1

* Assists.

1. KenPom has Kansas as the #7 team in the nation, 5th in AdjO and 25th in AdjD. Texas Tech is up to 28th overall, 29th in AdjO and 42nd in AdjD. Fun fact: West Virginia jumped up to 2nd overall after losing to Texas Tech, which I find odd and interesting at the same time. The other fun fact is that Kansas is the third best team according to KenPom, behind WVU and Baylor. Iowa State is 26th overall.

2. Kansas is ridiculously efficient on offense, scoring 1.169 points per possession, which is better than Texas Tech’s 1.164 points per possession. Offense usually doesn’t travel as well as defense, so I could envision Texas Tech having some issues scoring. Kansas isn’t the elite defensive team that they have been in the past. That could be advantage for Texas Tech.

3. Jackson is a terrific player for Kansas, a shooting guard / small forward that has court awareness, the ability to play really well offensively and he’s better than average ball-handler. He’s going to be a load and I’m keenly interested to see how Texas Tech matches up with him. Beard could play Gray or Smith against Jackson. I really want Gray to stay out of foul trouble because I think his big body and presence will be necessary. I’d also guess that Stevenson will get plenty of time too covering Mykhailiuk, Stevenson and Gray will need guard that three-point line.

4. Please note that every Red Raider will need to guard the three-point line because Kansas is 5th in the nation in three-point percentage at 42% and that’s going to be a huge problem overall for Texas Tech. As previously mentioned, Texas Tech is 163rd in the nation in guarding the three-point line. Millinghaus, Stevenson, Thomas and Evans will all need to absolutely guard the three-point line. Kansas can catch fire from beyond the arc and that will be something that Texas Tech will absolutely have to guard.

5. Head coach Bill Self will likely look to pressure Thomas and Evans because Kansas is certainly focused on the defense and improving the defensive pressure:

Self cited a lack of “havoc” being created by guards Frank Mason and Devonte’ Graham — whether it comes through steals, deflections or forced poor possessions — as the main culprit to the team’s defensive struggles.

“I think if you cut the head off, people say that the body will follow,” Self said. “So I think most of the responsibility falls on Devonte’ and Frank more than anybody else, because I think they can set the tone for everything.”

And alternatively, Chris Beard understands how the low turnover number against West Virginia was key to the win:

“Low turnovers were so important against West Virginia, and it’s much of the same with a very talented Kansas game,” Texas Tech head coach Chris Beard said. “The best thing they do on offense is their transition game with their great players and their rebounding. We have to really control the game to do that, and low turnovers are always very important to us.”

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