The top two defenses in Big 12 play face off in Lubbock as Kansas takes on the Red Raiders in a virtual must win game in terms of the streak and another “Quadrant 1” victory for whomever comes out on top in this one.
Texas Tech has won its last four since losing in Allen Fieldhouse, outscoring opponents by an average of 24 points per game, although it is fair to point out they were against the three worst teams in the league and a Baylor team down multiple starters.
Offensively, the Red Raiders have gotten a huge boost from running through the dregs of the Big 12, but still sit just 7th in the league in offense. Of particular importance to Kansas, Tech makes fewer than 34 percent of its 3-point attempts in league play, and also is 9th in the league in offensive rebounding. They do a reasonable job scoring inside the arc and getting to the line, especially considering how many mid range jumpers they attempt, but Kansas should be able to take advantage of this matchup given how good their first shot defense has been this year and Tech’s lack of offensive rebounding.
Defensively, Kansas is the last team to score more than a point per trip against the Red Raiders, putting up 1.08 PPP in Allen Fieldhouse. It’s worth noting the Jayhawks shot 43.3 percent from three, including a 3-4 effort from Lagerald Vick, so that might not be in the cards in this one. Beyond that, the Jayhawks shot nearly 50 percent on twos and turned it over on fewer than 18 percent of their possessions. Kansas didn’t solve the Tech defense by any means, but they did a good job of attacking baseline without getting cut off on the baseline and turning that into open corner threes or open shots for Dedric Lawson in the middle of the defense.
Players to Watch
Jarrett Culver, 6-6 sophomore wing
Culver leads the Big 12 in usage, and his efficiency hasn’t taken much of a hit at all. He hasn’t shot the three as well this year as he did last year, but he’s still not exactly someone you want to leave open. He also draws the 3rd most fouls in the league and is a capable and willing passer. He will be quite the test for Marcus Garrett in his first game back.
Davide Moretti, 6-2 sophomore guard
Moretti was Tech’s biggest offensive weapon in Lawrence, and he is their best long range shooter, shooting 43.5 percent from three this year. He isn’t really effective at anything else, but Kansas will need to pay attention to him on the defensive end.
Tariq Owens, 6-10 senior forward
One of the best interior defenders in the country, Owens ranks 8th nationally in block percentage. He had a double double in the game in Lawrence, and likely will be able to avoid foul trouble in this one considering it is in Lubbock.
Tech has been blowing teams out as of late, but their offense has been poor against good competition, scoring more than 1 point per trip against top 50 competition only four times, and one of those was the aforementioned “Baylor missing multiple starters” game. Tech will also give up a ton of three point attempts, so KU’s secondary shooters will have to step up, and it wouldn’t hurt to have Dedric Lawson continue to shoot as well as he has been.
The big question is whether KU can limit their road turnovers. If they can, not only will they score more points, but Tech won’t have enough easy baskets to score enough to beat the Jayhawks. With apologies to TCU, Kansas hasn’t had a huge road win yet this year. Tonight is the night. Kansas 65, Tech 62.