Coming off their latest debacle, the Jayhawks look to rebound against a Texas Tech team that has averaged a 25.5-point loss when playing Kansas. While almost nothing positive can be taken from the game against Baylor, Kansas ended Saturday as Big 12 Champions for the 9th time in a row and clinched the No.1 seed in the Big 12 Tournament. Texas Tech however is coming off their 2nd win in four games with their eyes locked on a 3rd win as they attempt to upset Kansas. Coming off a bad loss with a large statically advantage, there is no way Bill Self will allow his Jayhawks to get upset against the likes of Texas Tech. Or will he? Kansas has found ways to disappoint in the most unlikely of ways, and a closely contended game shouldn't come as a surprise if that becomes the case.
When: Thursday, March 14, 3:00 PM ET
Where: Sprint Center, Kansas City, MO
No injuries to report.
While not nearly as impressive as the other frontcourts in the Big 12, the Red Raiders big men haven't been that bad as of late. F Jaye Crockett (11.9 PPG-6.8 RPG) had a big game coming off the bench against West Virginia, scoring 18 points while grabbing 4 rebounds in the victory over the Mountaineers. Crockett will occasionally start along side forwards Dejan Kravic (8.6 PPG-5.2 RPG) and Jordan Tolbert (9.7 PPG-5.6 RPG) to make for a clunky starting 5.
While winning two out of four games may be impressive for the Red Raiders, their defense hasn't been as impressive. Over the course of their last four games, Texas Tech has allowed team to average 70.5 points and hit 43.6% from the field. This is good news for Kansas, as the Jayhawks could use a punching bag for their recently fluctuating offense.
No Injuries to Report
In a season of ups and downs for Kansas, the backcourt has been the most reliable asset for the Jayhawks. G Ben McLemore (16.7 PPG-5.3 RPG) is coming off his best road performance of the season, scoring 23 points and grabbing 3 boards. McLemore, G Elijah Johnson (10.2 PPG-4.8 APG) and G Travis Releford (11.9 PPG-3.7 RPG) have been on
fire from three, hitting a combined 44% in their last five games. This game will provide G Naadir Tharpe (5.2 PPG-2.8 APG) with ample playing time that should serve as a warm up for the long March ahead.
Weakness: Scoring Consistency
Of the many weaknesses that plague this Jayhawk team, the scoring inconsistency has been by far the most maddening. For no reason at all, Kansas failed to register 60 points for the 3rd time this season when they got walloped in Waco. It now seems as if there is a pattern to this team. From Nov 9th through the 26th, Kansas averaged 71.3 PPG, from Nov 30th to Jan 6th Kansas averaged 83.1 PPG, from Jan 9th to Feb 9th Kansas averaged 67 PPG, from Feb 11th to Mar 4th Kansas averaged 82.2. Does scoring only 58 points mark the beginning of yet another scoring drought? Today's score will provide us with the answer.
Trending Up: F Perry Ellis
One of the few positives taken from the rout given by Baylor is that F Perry Ellis (4.9 PPG-3.6 RPG) had a good game. Ellis scored 12 points on 5 of 7 shooting while grabbing 3 rebounds in the process. In Ellis' last five games, he has averaged 8 points, 4.4 rebounds, while hitting 52% from the field. Ellis, much like Tharpe, should log tons of minutes coming off the bench in what could be a confidence builder for the freshmen.
Trending Down: Interior Defense
With Jeff Withey (13.6 PPG-8.6 RPG-4 BPG) as your center, interior defense should not be a problem, though lately it had been. In the Jayhawks last five games, Kansas has allowed teams to shoot 43% inside the paint, a 4% increase of their season average. This stat is so high mainly because of game against Baylor, when the Bears hit close to 69% inside the paint. Kansas cannot allow teams to replicate the success G Pierre Jackson had inside the paint, or else is will be a quick end to March for the Jayhawks.
Not much has changed for the Red Raiders since their last meeting with the Jayhawks, the grass is still green, the sky is still blue and Texas Tech is still as bad as they have been all season. A demoralizing loss should be in the cards for Texas tech, and given recent events, that should be the case. Should. Kansas should have won a lot of games they didn't, *cough TCU, *cough Baylor, though there is absolutely no reason Kansas won't win this game. A staunch defense, coupled with an explosive offensive arsenal in the Sprint Center, Kansas' home away from home, spells doom for the Red Raiders.