Kansas gets ready to embark on its first road conference game of the season. The destination? A fairly unfriendly arena in Lubbock, TX to take on a Red Raiders squad that is 11-2 and looked good in Ames midweek. To help prep for the game, I reached out to Drew Borsellino over at Viva the Matadors, the SB Nation site covering the Texas Tech Red Raiders. He was kind enough to answer a few questions for us.
RCT: Looking back at the history of the Big 12, the last time the Red Raiders had a winning conference record was in the 2006-2007 season when they finished 9-7 and 5th in the conference. Since then it has been a bottom 2 finish in all but 2 years, both of which saw Tech in the bottom 4. Given the history, it would be easy to be cynical about this year's fast start. How does it feel to have a basketball team that could potentially be relevant this year?
It feels great to have a basketball team that can actually make some noise and all the credit goes to Tubby Smith. Last year was the first year he really had "his guys" and he played them as freshmen. He knew that they would struggle but last year the team was able to gain chemistry by playing with each other. On top of the young talent Toddrick Gotcher provides that senior leadership to this team.
RCT: With so many young guys on the squad last year, it was tough to decide who was worth paying attention to this year. Which players have taken the biggest leap this year, and who had been the biggest disappointment?
Even though he's a senior, guard Devaugntah Williams has really stepped up this year. He's leading the team in scoring and has only failed to not score in double-digits twice this year. Forward Aaron Ross is another guy who has really stepped up, he saw limited minutes last year but is now a key part of this team. He's seen his minutes double from last year to this year. Biggest disappoint was/is Isaiah Manderson. He essentially left the team after the games in Puerto Rico earlier this season. It seems as though he was unhappy about the amount of minutes he was getting on the court.
RCT: Kansas always seems to have problems playing in United Supermarkets Arena, and that's been when the Red Raiders haven't been that competitive. What is it about that place that makes Kansas play so poorly?
As you mentioned earlier, Texas Tech hasn't been good at basketball for quite a while now but when big-time programs come to town the fans show up and bring it. It's as though they channel their inner football fan you usually see at Jones AT&T and bring it to the USA. My freshmen year (2008-2009) we upset Kansas and rushed the court. There's nothing quite like that experience.
RCT: Which matchups do you see as being key to the game? Who has to go off for Texas Tech to get the upset win?
I'm personally looking forward to see how Aaron Ross and Norense Odiase matchup up with the KU big men. Matthew Temple is also a guy who's been seeing minutes at the 4 & 5 this year. He was a rec league walk-on so it'll be interesting how he handles playing the Jayhawks. For the Red Raiders to win they have to play a cleaner game than they did against Iowa State. The guards will need to limit turnovers and the big men will have to score points inside.
RCT: What's your score prediction? Does Texas Tech have enough to get their first win against Kansas since the last of three straight wins at home against the Jayhawks back in the 2008-09 season?
Kansas 77 - Texas Tech 70. I think it'll be a good game with Kansas leading throughout but I think Tech will bring it within 1 or 2 points at times but never be able to get up and sustain a lead.
RCT: Bonus - Star Wars or Star Trek?
Ehhhh can I say neither? I'm not a big fan of Sci-Fi movies. Now if you want to talk about Training Day, I'm all ears.
A big thanks to Drew for spending some time with us. Don't forget to check out the questions I answered for him as well.