Big 12 battle pits Kansas State against Texas Tech

A Big 12 Conference bout is queued up for Tuesday night, as the 13th-ranked Kansas State Wildcats take on the Texas Tech Red Raiders at United Spirit Arena.

After slipping in the ranks with back-to-back losses the week prior, Kansas State responded well last week with a pair of wins over Texas on Jan. 30 (83-57) and at Oklahoma on Saturday in a nail-biter (52-50). The Wildcats are now a stellar 17-4 overall and they sit alone in second place in the Big 12 with a 6-2 conference mark.

Texas Tech has not fared nearly as well this season, as it owns a 9-10 record and it ranks only better than winless TCU in the league standings (2-6). The Red Raiders suffered their second straight setback on Saturday when they lost at home to West Virginia, 77-61.

Kansas State has defeated Texas Tech on five straight occasions to take a 16-12 advantage in the all-time series.

Kansas State held a lead over Oklahoma State for nearly the entire second half, including by eight points with under three minutes to play, but an 8-0 Sooners' run tied the game up at 50-50 with 13 seconds to play. Angel Rodriguez was sent to the foul line with five second remaining however, and he cashed in by hitting a pair of free throws to seal the deal for the Wildcats. It was far from their best performance from the field (.375), but they won the turnover battle, 14-10. Will Spradling (12 points) and Martavious Irving (10 points) were the only two performers to reach double figures on the afternoon. K-State boasts an above-average offense by Big 12 standards (68.3 ppg), but the biggest reason for its success is due to its top-ranked scoring defense, which yields just 57.8 ppg. Rodney McGruder is typically the catalyst with 14.5 ppg, adding 5.2 rpg and 1.0 spg for good measure. Rodriguez (9.2 ppg) ranks fourth in the league with 5.0 apg, and Spradling (8.5 ppg) has made a team-high 33 3-pointers.

Texas Tech got off to a sluggish start in its latest game, trailing 13-2 early in the first half and it would never fully recover. The team put forth a solid effort from both the field (20-of-42) as well as the foul line (17-of-21), but it was ultimately let down at home by a poor defensive performance and by committing 22 turnovers. On the season, the Red Raiders are one of just two teams in the conference with a negative scoring margin, as they pour in 67.3 ppg while allowing a league-high 70.3 ppg. Despite starting just one game, Jaye Crockett is the team's top producer, shooting greater than 52 percent from the field for 12.7 ppg, while also grabbing 7.6 rpg. Dejan Kravic (9.3 ppg) and Jordan Tolbert (9.1 ppg) also make more than half of their field goal attempts, but even with the presence of three stellar shooters, Tech still makes good on only 42.7 percent of its total shots.