A pair of teams at opposite ends of the Big 12 Conference standings are set to meet on Monday night, as the Kansas State Wildcats welcome the Texas Tech Red Raiders to Bramlage Coliseum.
Texas Tech's season started off promising enough at 8-4, but things have gone south in the past 13 games, as it has claimed victory in just one of those matchups. The Red Raiders extended their season-long losing streak to eight games on Saturday afternoon when they were saddled with an 86-66 setback at Iowa State, and they currently sit in ninth place in the Big 12 at 2-12.
Meanwhile, Kansas State has soared this season to a 22-5 overall record, and at 11-3 in league action, it is tied for first place with Kansas. The Wildcats dismissed Texas on the road this past Saturday (81-69) for their seventh win in their last eight games, and they now return home where they've won 13 of 14 this season.
Kansas State has owned Texas Tech with wins in six straight contests, most recently claiming a 68-59 decision in the first meeting this season on Feb. 5, to take a 17-12 lead in the all-time series.
Texas Tech could do very little to keep pace with the hot-shooting Cyclones over the weekend, as it connected on just 40.4 percent from the field and 13- of-25 from the foul line in the 20-point loss. Josh Gray was impressive in the setback, scoring 20 points on 7-of-15 from the field. Jaye Crockett logged a double-double off the bench with 13 points and 11 rebounds, while Dejan Kravic added 10 points and three blocks. The Red Raiders have had difficulty stopping teams from scoring all season long, as they allow a generous 72.3 ppg, which completely neutralizes their offensive production (66.2 ppg). Crockett is the team's top performer, tallying 12.3 ppg and 7.2 rpg in mostly a reserve role. Gray nets 10.0 ppg, but on less than 38 percent accuracy from the floor, and Jordan Tolbert (9.0 ppg, 5.6 rpg) and Kravic (8.7 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 1.4) have both been solid in the frontcourt with field goal percentages greater than .510.
Kansas State got out to an eight-point lead at the half at Texas on Saturday night and it never surrendered that advantage on its way to a double-digit victory. Rodney McGruder led the way with 20 points for his 21st 20-plus point performance of his career. Angel Rodriguez (16 points) and Shane Southwell (11 points) both got their teammates involved with six assists apiece, while Thomas Gipson netted 10 points in 18 minutes off the bench. The biggest key to the Wildcats' success this season has been their scoring defense, which is tied with Kansas for tops in the conference in allowing just 59.9 ppg. Their offense puts up more than enough points to support the stout defensive showing (69.5 ppg), and they are also aided by positive margins in the rebounding (+3.9) and turnover (+2.5) battles. McGruder is the top scoring threat with 15.0 ppg, while Rodriguez (10.9 ppg) has handed out 128 assists while committing just 56 turnovers.