Jordan Tolbert scored 1,000 points and grabbed 1,000 rebounds in high school in Fort Worth, was named All-City, All-District and All-Area as a Senior....and for that was rewarded by being named a 3 star prospect by Rivals, and not only was he not a top 150 guy, he wasn't ranked at his position or even in his state. He had some semi-good to good offers out of high school, such as Arizona State, Creighton and Wichita State, but he wasn't a highly sought after recruit at all.
A half season later it appears that everyone missed. While the Red Raiders certainly aren't good, it's not Tolbert's fault. He has the third highest usage rate in the league, and fourth highest shot percentage. He's the only Red Raider averaging double digits in scoring, and he's done so efficiently, shooting 53.6% from two. He gets most of those shots at the rim, but it's not as big of a split as you would think for someone with that high of a percentage on a team where he's the only weapon. 42% of his shots are two point jumpers and coincidentally he's shooting 42% on those shots, which for the record is better than every regular Jayhawk except for Conner Teahan and Travis Releford, but they take only 11% and 25% of their shots as two point jumpers respectively.
Tolbert has also done a fantastic job at getting to the line, drawing 6.3 fouls per 40 minutes, and has the 6th best free throw rate in the Big 12. In Big 12 play he has kept that part of his game up, ranking 6th in FT Rate in conference play as well. And once he gets to the line he's shooting 71%. Despite all of the attention on him, Tolbert has just a 23.6% TO rate, which is pretty darn good considering Tech as a team turns it over on 25.5% of their possessions. Clearly he is a handful of a matchup, and at 6'7" he is probably too big for perimeter defender Travis Releford to defend, so expect to see a lot of Thomas Robinson on him.
Other than Tolbert, it's pretty ugly. Tech has 7 playing Freshmen, and understandably rank 327th in experience. Other than Tolbert only three Red Raiders have eFGs over 50%, and of those only Ty Nurse plays more than 20 minutes per game.
Tech has just one conference win for a reason. They rank last in Big 12 play in PPP, eFG, turnover rate (offense), 2 pt percentage and steal% (on both sides of the ball). Interestingly, though they are 8th in the league in PPP allowed, they are 3rd in conference play in both 3 pt and 2 pt percentage defense. But because they're so bad at both forcing turnovers and defensive rebounding opponents are able to put up a ton of shots.
KenPom predicts a 28 point win for Kansas, and gives the Jayhawks a 99% chance of winning. I'll take the margin to be a bit closer because I think they'll sleep walk through the 2nd half a bit but it would be the upset of the year if Kansas lost (jinx!).
Regardless of the outcome though, one of the better stories in the country will be suiting up, and hopefully playing against Kansas. Regardless of how good the story is, Kansas fans will likely heckle Texas Tech Freshman Luke Adams a bit. But unlike the majority of people, he will enjoy every second of it. Adams was born almost completely deaf, with only about 10% hearing capability in his right ear. He was fitted with a cochlear implant when he was younger and can now hear normally.
He hasn't played a ton this year, playing in just 29.1% of Tech's minutes, but he's shooting 40% from three and was the leading scorer in Class 3A in Texas last year, so hopefully a bright future is ahead. Allen Fieldhouse will be rocking on Saturday, and no one will be happier to hear it than Adams. For just how great of a story this is, take a look at this quote:
You know when you open a Sprite and you hear that fizz? I couldn't hear that before. When I first heard it, I was
like, 'Whoa, what was that?' You hear so many little things now.