No. 10 Kansas looks to make it 2-0 in Big 12 play against Texas Tech.
The Jayhawks are coming off an incredible shooting performance in a win at Texas last Friday night. KU shot 48% from three-point land, draining 17 threes. They will look to carry that momentum over to Tuesday night against the Red Raiders of Texas Tech. The NCAA offices finally open back up after the holiday break, so if all goes right who knows maybe we’ll see Billy Preston and Silvio De Sousa. But this is the NCAA after all, so it’s hard to be that hopeful.
About Texas Tech: While they didn’t make the NCAA Tournament last season, fans who follow the Big 12 know that Texas Tech was no pushover. It’s now year two into the Chris Beard era, and the Red Raiders are now looking to compete in the conference. So far this season, Texas Tech is 12-1, with wins over Northwestern and Baylor, while their only loss is to a Nevada team who is one of the favorites in the Mountain West. Beard brings back veterans such as Keenan Evans and Zach Smith, but he also has two talented freshmen in Zhaire Smith and Jarrett Culver. Tech has a deep rotation, as they have 10 guys averaging double-digit minutes. The Red Raiders have never won in Allen Fieldhouse, so they will be looking to reverse their fortunes on Tuesday night.
Game Info and Notes:
- Tuesday, January 2nd, 2018 at 8:00 pm CT
- Allen Fieldhouse, Lawrence, Kan.
- ESPN or WatchESPN App
- With the win over Texas last week, Kansas has won 27 straight Big 12 openers
- The Jayhawks hold the series 33-4, with a perfect 17-0 record in Lawrence
- Kansas has won its last 11-straight home conference openers, a streak which started in 2006-07. KU’s last Big 12 home-opening loss was to Kansas State, 59-55, on Jan. 14, 2006
- Kansas leads the Big 12 and is fifth nationally in assist-to-turnover ratio at 1.67. KU also ranks in the top-10 nationally in field goal percentage (fourth at 51.7), scoring margin (seventh at 20.6), 3-point field goal made per game (ninth at 11.2) and 3-point field goal percentage (ninth at 42.2).
- Sophomore C Udoka Azubuike is the only player in the Big 12 to rank in the top 10 in both scoring and rebounding. Azubuike is ninth in scoring at 16.2 points per game and fourth in rebounding at 8.4 rpg. His four double-doubles are tied for fifth in the conference
- Kansas is scoring 87.8 points per game. The last KU team to average that many was the 2001-02 Final Four team at 90.9 and before then, it was the 1989-90 team at 92.1 ppg
- Kansas has had four different players score 26 points or more in a game this season – Udoka Azubuike, Devonte’ Graham, Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk and Lagerald Vick
Red Raiders to Watch
Keenan Evans – 6’3″ senior, guard
Evans averaged 20.5 PPG against the Jayhawks last season and is the undeniable leader of this Texas Tech squad. He leads the Red Raiders in scoring and assists at 16.6 PPG and 3.6 APG. He is also one of Tech’s best three-point shooters, as he’s second on the team at 37% from long range. Evans can score in a variety of ways. He’s going to get his numbers, so slowing down the guys around him will be key.
Zhaire Smith – 6’5″ freshman, guard
After laying a goose egg against Wofford on November 22nd, Smith has gone for double-figures in every game since, including a 15-point performance in the Big 12 opener against Baylor. Nearly 70% of Smith’s shots come at the rim this season. That’s where he’s going to get his points. If Kansas can force him into a jump shooter, Smith won’t have an impact on this one.
Jarrett Culver – 6’5″ freshman, guard
Culver is third on the team in scoring, barely behind Smith, at 10.4 PPG. He does have the second-most FG attempts on the team. Culver is going to huck up threes at a pretty high rate, as 50% of his shots come from behind the arc. He’s also converting on 40% of those shots, one of the top marks on the team.
Kansas 84 – Texas Tech 72
AUDIO PREVIEW (55:30 mark): LINK
It’s unrealistic to expect Kansas to shoot the way they did against Texas…or maybe it isn’t? Nevertheless, Kansas’ offense is so potent and Texas Tech hasn’t seen anything like it at all this season. The game being at Allen Fieldhouse plays a huge factor for me as well, as Tech has never won there. They do shoot the ball pretty well (84th in 3-PT%), but they don’t take enough to really worry me (290th in 3-PT taken). They also don’t really get much in transition either. So two things that are a must to beat Kansas, Tech doesn’t excel at either of them. Unless Kansas beat themselves, I don’t see Tech’s losing streak at AFH ending on Tuesday.
Give me Kansas in a pretty comfortable win in front of the home crowd. If Azubuike is healthy, expect him to extend his streak of strong play. Tommy Hamilton IV is the only one on Tech’s roster who offers any type of resistance to KU’s big man, but Hamilton only plays around 15 minutes a game.