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KU Hoops Preview: Texas Tech

This week’s road battle will be extra tough

NCAA Basketball: Central Florida at Texas Tech Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Last week, Kansas followed up a huge home win on Saturday with a tough loss on the road after a quick Monday turnaround. Unfortunately, things are setting up for a repeat performance to be a real possibility this week. A game in Lubbock on short rest after a full 40 minute Baylor on Saturday is tough on its own. But Kevin McCullar, who missed Saturday’s game with Bill Self admitting McCullar “can’t hardly move” after Saturday’s tough win, doesn’t appear likely to be back. Self indicated he “can’t imagine Kevin being a lot better Monday” after the game.

In addition, we have no updates as of now on Dajuan Harris’ status after he briefly left Saturday’s game after appearing to turn his ankle. He did return, but appeared to be playing through some pain, and we have yet to hear if this will be a long-term issue. Even with Harris, Kansas was forced to play with just seven scholarship players against Baylor with freshman Jamari McDowell also sidelined.

As for Texas Tech, don’t expect to see the Red Raiders from the days of Chris Beard and Mark Adams. Those recent Tech teams turned each game into a defensive slog, tough to both play against and to watch as a person who enjoys good basketball. New coach Grant McCasland, who Tech hired away from a stretch of success at North Texas, has the Red Raiders running well offensively, while defense has been more of an afterthought.

In some ways, Tech is similar to the Baylor team we just saw. Like Baylor, they shoot the three very well (1st in Big 12 play), but not drastically often (though moreso in Big 12 play than in the non-con). Junior Chance McMillian is a constant deep threat, hitting 42.5% of his 113 three point attempts. Pop Isaacs launches a ton of threes (174) but doesn’t make them at an alarming rate (just 32.8%). However, Isaacs is more than willing to score by getting to the basket and drawing fouls, where he hits 82.1% of his free throws.

As a team Tech is 5th in 2P% and 1st in 3P% in the Big 12, good for the 2nd highest eFG%. They also take excellent care of the ball, though this typically isn’t a huge factor against Kansas (17 steals against Baylor notwithstanding). They’ve struggled on the offensive glass, which is good news for a KU team that has allowed opponents to do some damage there, but they’re even worse on the defensive glass, so if the Jayhawks can grab a couple of their own misses in timely situations, it would certainly help their case.

Defensively, Tech’s numbers probably look a little worse in Big 12 play due to bad three point defensive luck, but they’re only 8th in the league at defending inside the arc, rarely block shots, and really do virtually nothing that stands out, aside from avoiding fouls.

Prediction

If I knew Harris was healthy and that McCullar was good to go, I actually think I’d go out on a limb and predict a road win over a good team here. I like this matchup more than even some Big 12 teams that might not be as good overall as the Red Raiders are. But if McCullar is still out, Harris is fighting a sore ankle, and at most the Jayhawks have eight scholarship players at their disposal, a win in Lubbock is probably asking a bit much. I think Kansas has enough fight to keep it from getting ugly, but this is a very tall task for a team that’s already dealing with road struggles.

Texas Tech 77, Kansas 70