Preview and Game Thread: Kansas vs. Texas Tech

It’s the battle for the Big 12.

Game Info

Date: Saturday, February 24th
Time: 3:15 pm
Good Guys: Texas Tech Red Raiders (22-6, 10-5)
Bad Guys: Kansas Jayhawks (22-6, 11-4)
Location: United Supermarkets Arena | Lubbock, Texas
TV/Stream: ESPN
Radio/Stream: 97.3 FM/104.3 FM/950 AM


POINT GUARD Keenan Evans (6-3/190) 17.6 / 3.4*
SHOOTING GUARD Jarrett Culver (6-5/190) 10.9 / 4.3
SMALL FORWARD Justin Gray (6-6/210) 5.3 / 3.4
POWER FORWARD Zhaire Smith (6-5/195) 11.1 / 4.7
CENTER Norense Odiase (6-9/245) 4.4 / 5.0
SIXTH MAN Niem Stevenson (6-6/205) 6.9 / 2.9
SEVENTH MAN Brandone Francis (6-5/205) 5.5 / 2.1
EIGHTH MAN Davide Moretti (6-3/165) 3.5 / 1.3*
NINTH MAN Tommy Hamilton IV (6-11/250) 5.9 / 3.4
TENTH MAN Josh Webster (6-4/175) 0.4 / 0.7*
ELEVENTH MAN Malik Ondigo (6-10/210) 1.1 / 0.8
POINT GUARD Devonte Graham (6-2/185) 17.6 / 7.2*
SHOOTING GUARD Malik Newman (6-3/190) 12.3 / 5.0
SMALL FORWARD Lagerald Vick (6-5/175) 13.0 / 5.1
POWER FORWARD Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (6-8/205) 15.4 / 4.1
CENTER Udoka Azubuike (7-0/280) 14.0 / 7.1
SIXTH MAN Marcus Garret (6-5/180) 4.2 / 3.6
SEVENTH MAN Silvio De Sousa (6-9/245) 1.5 / 1.3
EIGHTH MAN Mitch Lightfoot (6-8/210) 3.6 / 2.9

* Assists.

Starting 5

1. KenPom. KenPom says that these two teams are about as neck-and-neck as you can get. Kansas is ranked 11th overall, 13th in AdjO and 35th in AdjD. While Texas Tech is 10th overall, 63rd in AdjO and 3rd in AdjD.

2. Stats. Via RealGM, Kansas is a much better shooting team, which isn’t a surprise given the eFG% difference in offense, the Jayhawks shoot at 58%, while Texas Tech shoots 53%. The Red Raiders are a better offensive rebounding team, 33% to 29%, while Texas Tech also has a pretty big free throw shooting rate, 28% to just 19%. Kansas turns the ball over slightly less than Texas Tech, 14% to 16% for Texas Tech. By this point, we really sort of know Kansas is and Oklahoma State really gave Kansas a pretty good idea about how to play, which is to get off three-point shots in transition offense, which suits Kansas just fine. The Jayhawks shoot 26 shots per game and make nearly 40% of those shots.

3. Scouting. I listedn to Bubba Jennings on with Chris Level and Aaron Dickens this morning and I was going to write the same thing that Jennings said, which is that there’s only 3 players for Kansas that present significant match-up problems. This isn’t to say that Newman or Vick can’t beat Texas Tech, but the likelihood is that it’s going to be Mykhailiiuk, Graham and Azubuike who will cause the most damage. The biggest issue for me is Azubuike and the big men for Texas Tech have has some issues staying in games and not fouling. That’s been on the road and there’s something different about playing at home. There’s an advantage. Graham’s ability to find his teammates has been really impressive and if it weren’t for Keenan Evans’ ability to will games to victory, Graham should be considered for Big 12 Player of the Year along with Evans. They are both superb players.

4. Reading Material.

  • A-J Media’s Carlos Silva, Jr. – Francis develops into team-first player for No. 6 Red Raiders:

    One of those included moving into an on-campus dorm, which occurred during the second semester of his sit-out year due to NCAA transfer rules.

    “I came in a little bit mad about my Florida story, my coach leaving and stuff like that,” Francis said. “I didn’t approach things right. I didn’t realize what kind of great people I had around me, especially starting with coach Beard. My mind wasn’t in the right place and I made a couple of mistake on and off the court, nothing crazy.

    “So he moved me into the dorm, and it’s probably the best thing that has ever happened to me. All of my teammates were living in nice apartments and I was the only one living in a dorm. Through those times, I became a man. … Everyone around me could see the change in my mindset. What you see now is the real Brandone Francis.”

  • A-J Media’s Don Williams – Williams: Beard building something special, and fast:

    Never content, though, Beard has moved from wondering about how “to get this thing going” to how to sustain it.

    “Now, what I would say is we need to get used to this kind of thing,” Beard said. “We need to get used to playing well, and we need to get used to playing in meaningful games. We need to get used to coach (Seth) Greenberg and Jay Williams and Jay Bilas being in Lubbock, because if we’re going to do the things we want to do, we want to be in this position every year where we’re competing.”

  • KC Star’s Gary Bedore – Jayhawks to face stern test at Texas Tech with much at stake:

    Tech is 16-0 at home and has an overall home win streak of 17 games, which is second-longest to South Dakota State’s 20 games.

    “This atmosphere Saturday will double or triple the best atmosphere we’ve played in so far this year away from home,” Self said. “There’s too much to play for. It should be a lot of fun.”

    “You work all year long to play in games like this,” Self said. “The fact of the matter … prime-time game, it’s on (ESPN) ‘GameDay,’ which adds to the level of interest probably a little bit. In our mind, we’re still going down to play a team that handled us quite easily on our home court. We feel we didn’t give them our best shot.”

  • SI’s Michael Beller – Picks: NCAA Tournament Bubble Teams Take Center Stage This Weekend:

    From now on, we should all just assume that Kansas’s Big 12 regular season championship streak will extend in perpetuity. After another round of “this could finally be the season” declarations shortly after Big 12 play began, the Jayhawks have once again asserted their primacy in the conference. A win in Lubbock on Saturday would guarantee them a share of the Big 12 regular season title for the 14th straight season. Texas Tech won the first meeting between these teams in Lawrence back on Jan. 2, holding the mighty Jayhawks to 1.01 points per possession. Keenan Evans is still dealing with a toe injury, and while he played 25 minutes in the team’s loss to Oklahoma State earlier this week, he clearly wasn’t himself. The Red Raiders need him at or near full strength if they’re going to pull off the season sweep of the Jayhawks.

    Kansas 76, Texas Tech 71

  • USA Today’s Eddie Timanus – Kansas-Texas Tech showdown in Big 12 highlights weekend action in college basketball:

    It looked like this might be a head-to-head showdown for first place in the crowded Big 12. But the Red Raiders have dropped their last two contests to fall a game behind the Jayhawks. KU is now in the driver’s seat in its bid to run its streak of regular-season conference crowns to 14. Texas Tech is clearly not the same threat with team leader Keenan Evans anything short of full speed. But even if he is able to contribute at his usually high level on Saturday, the Jayhawks are coming off their best outing of a season in a romp against Oklahoma and appear to be rounding into March form.

  • CJOnline’s Matt Galloway – KU basketball’s Bill Self on Texas Tech showdown: ‘You work all year long to play in games like this’:

    “We’re happy to have a game lead, but we know the way it’s set up, Tech still controls its own destiny to win the league,” Self said. “If they win out, the worst they could do is tie. Certainly it doesn’t change anything about this being a huge game.”

    Tech finishes its season with an 8 p.m. Monday tilt at West Virginia and a 3 p.m. March 3 contest against TCU, while KU will close its regular-season campaign with an 8 p.m. Monday home date against Texas and a 3 p.m. March 3 tilt at Oklahoma State. The Jayhawks have a one-game lead on the Red Raiders and a two-game advantage on WVU and Kansas State.

    “The reality of it is, if we don’t play really well and (win Saturday), then we bring other teams into play, not only Texas Tech, West Virginia, but also K-State is in the game,” Self said. “Certainly we’ve got to do our job and we need to go down there and play our best.”

5. Official Site. The official site’s official preview and head coach Chris Beard discusses the game:

“I think there are parallels in any journey,” Texas Tech head coach Chris Beard said. “Of course, we talk to our guys all of the time about how we respond to adversity. We’ve had a couple of these situations this year. We find ourselves in one right now. We lost two road games in the Big 12 to two teams that are fighting to get in the tournament without one of our best players. To me, it’s not like the boat is sinking. We have to figure out how to get the boat back in the right direction. This is the Big 12, you can’t get too high or too low. You have to continue to give yourselves a chance. We have it down to a three-game season, and we are in the race for the Big 12 championship. I’m really proud of our guys. Don’t lose the fact that we’ve got a team here that’s competing for a conference championship in the toughest league in basketball with three games left.”


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