Texas Tech Preview

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Time: Wednesday 1/11/12 at 8:30pm CT
Location: Luboock, Texas – United Spirit Arena
Radio: Jayhawk Radio Network, Station List
National Ranking: Kansas #10 (both polls)

Greetings everyone. I’m Matthew Streeter and hopefully this is the first of many write-ups I can contribute for everyone. I was raised up as a Jayhawk fan with my father and his family teaching me the proper team to root for. Rock chalk.
Kansas (12-3, 2-0) finishes up a two game road trip traveling to Lubbock to play current Big 12 bottom dweller Texas Tech. Kansas is looking to go 3-0 in Big 12 play for the sixth-straight season, eighth time under head coach Bill Self and 15th time in the 16-year history of the conference. Kansas averages 75.1 points per game and allows 59.2 for a +15.9 scoring margin. The Jayhawks continue to lead the Big 12 in rebound margin (+8.5) and have outrebounded all but two opponents this year. Kansas is also sharing the ball well, averaging 15.9 assists per game.
Texas Tech (7-7, 0-2) currently sits in last place in the Big 12 standings. Long-time Bill Self assistant coach Billy Gillispie is in his first season as the Red Raiders’ head coach. The Red Raiders average 66.6 points per game and give up 65.8 and are outrebounding their opponents 32.2-30.9. Texas Tech ranks second in the Big 12 in shooting percentage at 48.4 percent.
Kansas leads the overall series with Texas Tech 20-4 and the Jayhawks have won three straight and four of the last five meetings. KU leads the overall series played in Lubbock 7-4 but is 3-3 in the United Spirit Arena, including a 1-3 mark during the Bill Self era after last year’s 88-66 KU win on Feb. 1, 2011. Since the inception of the Big 12 in 1997, Kansas is 13-4 against Texas Tech, 11-4 in regular-season match-ups and 2-0 in conference championship meetings.

Kansas Keys To The Game
  • Avoid overlooking the Red Raiders, must beat teams you are supposed to beat
  • Use their offensive weapons early and often, keep Texas Tech out of the game from the beginning
  • Who is going to lead team this game?, five different Jayhawks – Thomas Robinson, Tyshawn Taylor, Elijah Johnson, Conner Teahan and Travis Releford – have led Kansas in scoring through 15 games.
  • Tighten up sloppy mistakes: turnovers, slow starts, forcing shots
  • Continue to improve guard play consistency

Texas Tech Keys To The Game

  • Red Raiders are a very young team who naturally makes plenty of mistakes and undisciplined plays : high turnovers, high number of fouls, adjusting to new system
  • Tech does not rebound well: ranked #281 in rebounds per game at 32.2
  • Need Tolbert to dominate: Freshman Jordan Tolbert (6-7) leads Texas Tech in scoring and rebounding with 14.8 points per game and 6.4 boards per contest in 2011-12. His 14.8 scoring average is sixth in the Big 12 and his rebounding average is ninth. Tolbert is second in the conference with a 62.4 shooting percentage.

Kansas Notables

  • Thomas Robinson, who just missed his 11th double-double of the season with 18 points and nine rebounds at Oklahoma (1/7), was named the No. 1 candidate for national player of the year in Dick Vitale’s midseason lists released Jan. 4.
  • Travis Releford was named Big 12 Player of the Week on Jan. 9. In his last three games, Releford has 58 points and 21 rebounds.
  • Jeff Withey leads the Big 12 with 2.9 blocked shots per game, which includes a Big 12-best nine in conference play.
  • Bill Self quotes from recent press conference: Bill Self Looks Ahead To Texas Tech (rockchalktalk.com)
Ryan (who will be handling Twitter duties for @KansasSports on Wednesday night): 

Any Kansas basketball fan who has followed the program for any length of time should know that Lubbock, Texas is not Bill Self’s favorite place to go. Posting a career record of 1-3 in Lubbock while at KU, with his only win coming last year, it’s easy to see why Texas Tech on the road, is not a game to be overlooked.February 14, 2005: L 79-80
It was a double overtime heartbreaker for Keith Langford and the Jayhawks, as Darryl Dora (Texas Tech) hit a huge three with 3.6 ticks left on the clock in the second overtime period. Aaron Miles desperation heave fell short at the buzzer, and Texas Tech Coach Bob Knight picked up his first win over Kansas in his new position. The fans stormed the court and began chanting his name.

Keith Langford led KU with 24 points and 8 rebounds, but the Jayhawks were handed their first conference loss, and second loss overall on the season, at the hands of the then #25 Red Raiders.January 20, 2007: L 64-69
The Jayhawks got 12 points each from forwards Julian Wright and Darrell Arthur, but three Red Raiders in double figures propelled Texas Tech University over the then #5 Kansas Jayhawks. KU trailed by as many as 12 in the second half, but went on a 12-1 run over a two minute period to tie the game at 62 with only 1:44 remaining in the game. However, Martin Zeno’s powerful jam with less than ten seconds remaining put a stop to the Jayhawks run and sent Bill Self and the team back to Lawrence with their third loss, the first in conference action.

A big story in this game was free throws. KU went 50% on the night, going only 2-4 at the charity stripe. Meanwhile, Texas Tech shot 75%, going 15-20 from the line. The game moved Bill Self to 0-2 in his KU career when traveling to Lubbock.March 4, 2009:   L 65-84
Kansas had the shooting woes on this March night in 2009, shooting a season low 33.3% on the night. The trio of Sherron Collins, Tyshawn Taylor, and Marcus Morris lead the Jayhawks, each with 11 points. On this night however, the night belonged to Texas Tech senior Jake Voskuil who went off for 35 points, including 9-14 from beyond the arch.

The Red Raiders got up by as many as 18 during the first half, but KU managed to cut the lead to two points on several different occasions in the second half. Unfortunately for the Jayhawks, Voskuil continued to hit shot after shot in the late minutes of the game, and KU just couldn’t keep up with the pace.
On the positive side, KU did secure at least a share of their fifth straight Big XII Championship with Oklahoma losing to Missouri. Bill Self dropped his career record to 0-3 in Lubbock.February 1, 2011: W 88-66
Marcus Morris led the Jayhawks with 18 points, and Thomas Robinson followed closely behind adding 17 points and 9 rebounds, falling just short of a double-double. KU started to game off hot, making eight of their first eleven shots to take a 19-6 lead only seven minutes into the game. The Jayhawks carried a double digit lead for almost the entire remainder of the game. A key part of this game was Thomas Robinson going 5-5 from the line down the stretch, although KU as a team shot only 53% (8-15).

Kansas Coach Bill Self garnered his first road win against Texas Tech, and the Jayhawks won for the first time in the United Spirit Arena since 2003, under Roy Williams.January 11, 2011: ???
What will this game hold? The #10 Kansas Jayhawks come into the game boasting a record of 12-3, 2-0 in conference play. Meanwhile, the Red Raiders of Texas Tech currently sit at 7-7, 0-2 in the Big XII thus far.

All numbers aside, this Texas Tech squad, with twelve newcomers, and only three returning players from last season, has come together, and is playing their best basketball of the year at this point. On  Saturday, Texas Tech played undefeated Baylor very close for most of the game, down 55-51 with 8:12 to go, before eventually falling 73-60 at the hands of the Bears.
The teams is playing together, and has become a good basketball team under first year head coach Billy “Clyde” Gillespie. Gillespie is no stranger to the Big XII, he coached at Texas A&M for three seasons before moving on to coach at the University of Kentucky.Players to Watch:

#32 Jordan Tolbert
Bill Self referred to Tolbert as the “most dominant freshman in the conference” during his press conference on Monday. The 6’7” freshman has averaged 14.8 points per game and 6.4 rebounds per game thus far, leading the team in both of those categories.
Tolbert is said to has smooth inside post moves, and some of the greatest hands in the conference. At only 6’7, I look for a combination of Releford and Robinson to guard him throughout the night.
#4 Ty Nurse
Nurse is averaging 10.7 points per game, and leads the team with 22 three point makes and 15 steals on the season. Nurse is a quick handed guy, who will probably match up against Tyshawn on defense. If Tyshawn can distribute well, and not get stuck in sticky situations in the corners, Nurse shouldn’t be a huge factor defensively. Offensively, I would look for Elijah Johnson to match up against him for a good part of the night.
#5 Javarez Willis
Willis is averaging 9.1 points per game, but leads the team with a 12.0 points per game average so far in Big XII play. Willis also leads the Red Raiders with 33 assists so far on the season, and is the main ball handler for the team. Watch for Tyshawn to try and shut down Willis tonight, as he has been hot as of late.Prediction?
I see KU jumping out to a fast start, after a slow start against Oklahoma on Saturday. Bill Self knows not to overlook any team, especially on the road in the Big XII where wins are particularly tough to come by. The Jayhawks need a good game from Robinson and Withey inside against the undersized Red Raiders, as well as another good outing from Releford. Even with the recent history in Lubbock, at this point in the season, I see KU as simply too much for Texas Tech to match up with. KU wins 75-63.

Tomorrow, at 8:00 precisely the 12-3 Jayhawks will make their way into the United Sprint Center in beautiful Lubbock, Texas to take on the .500 Texas Tech Red Raiders. There is no argument here on who I think will win (Jayhawks) but this is going to be another test. Why? It’s an away game in a very difficult environment to play in. Now if you look at the Texas Tech stats, you won’t see anything positive about this team other than their field goal percentage.
Their defense is so bad they look like a high school team. Points per game don’t matter much when have a terrible defense (the Red Raiders rank 200th in Division-1). OUCH!
Let’s see how the Kansas Jayhawks are doing:

Kansas’ stats are impressive but the biggest problemis points per game. If you look at the teams KU has played thus far I would not be too worried. The Red Raiders offense in very good and very complete. The Jayhawks offense is very young and can struggle sometimes. The Red Raiders just came off an impressive performance as the Baylor Bears only beat Tech by 13 points after having an awful first half.

This should not be a team that the Jayhawks take lightly especially after the Jayhawks loss to Davidson. Tomorrow will be a big test for the Jayhawks but as long as they step up and flex their muscles, they should not have any problems with the Red Raiders.

Texas Tech shoots a large majority of shots from inside the arc and they are fairly proficient at doing so, converting at a 51.8% clip. They also get to the line a lot because of their guard play. Kansas does foul quite a bit, but with only one player taller than 6’7″ I don’t think the Red Raiders will have their say inside.

The two main things keeping Tech from having a passable offense are turnovers (25%, 323rd) and offensive rebounds (28%, 296th). Defensively Tech sends its opponents to the line a lot so I foresee a lot of points at the line for both Robinson and Withey.

Major jinx alert here.. but I would be shocked at an upset. KenPom has KU at 95% to win, and this is the type of game where, even on the road, I would be disappointed with anything less than a 20-point win.  Texas Tech is an all around good opponent but this time, I will have to predict the Jayhawks to win by 25 after a close first half and they go on to blowout the 7-7 Red Raiders.