Lawrence, KS (SportsNetwork.com) - The 12th-ranked Kansas Jayhawks take aim at their second straight win to open Big 12 Conference play, as they entertain the Texas Tech Red Raiders at Allen Fieldhouse on Saturday afternoon.
Texas Tech has won twice as many games as it has lost this season (10-5), but the team has stumbled out of the gate against Big 12 foes, losing its first two conference games, at home, to Texas (70-61) and West Virginia (78-67). The Red Raiders now head out on the road for the only the second official time this season, and they are seeking their first win in four total bouts outside of Lubbock (0-1 away, 0-2 neutral site). Texas Tech has lost four of its last five games overall.
Kansas slipped past No. 21 Baylor in the Big 12 opener on Wednesday night, 56-55, to notch its third straight win and 12th in 14 total outings this season. The Jayhawks' lone setbacks have come in blowout fashion -- first against top-ranked Kentucky (72-40, Nov. 18), and then in surprising fashion at Temple (77-52, Dec. 22). The Jayhawks are 7-0 at home this season,
Kansas has a firm grip on the all-time series with Texas Tech, leading 27-4. The Jayhawks have won the last 10 meetings, and are a perfect 14-0 versus the Red Raiders at Allen Fieldhouse.
Devaugntah Williams scored 21 points and grabbed six rebounds, and Toddrick Gotcher came off the bench to tally 14 points and five boards, but those efforts went for naught as Texas Tech failed in its bid to upset No. 14 West Virginia last Monday in Lubbock. The Red Raiders shot 7-of-12 from 3-point range and outscored the Mountaineers at the foul line, 22-14, but they allowed the visitors to connect on 47.6 percent of their total shots, giving up 30 field goals to their mere 19. An unsightly 22 turnovers hampered Tech's ability to stay in contention, as did the fact that WVU doubled up the home team in points in the paint (36-18).
Williams (11.7 ppg) is the only player averaging double figures this season for the Red Raiders, who are scoring just 68.3 ppg, due in large part to their lackluster 31.2 percent showing from 3-point range. Fortunately, the team's defensive performance is permitting foes a mere 60.0 ppg, which comes on just 38.5 percent field goal efficiency and 31.3 percent from beyond the arc. Texas Tech is even in terms of turnover margin, but typically wins the rebounding battle by more than five caroms per contest.
Solid defense was the key to victory for Kansas in its recent clash with Baylor, as the Bears shot just 34 percent from the floor, despite making good on 8-of-15 tries from distance. The Jayhawks hit just 27.6 percent of their total shots in the first half, but caught fire after the break, dropping 72.7 percent over the final 20 minutes. Jamari Traylor paced the team with 13 points, while Brannen Greene and Frank Mason III tallied 12 and 11 points, respectively. KU went just 5-of-17 from 3-point land, while converting only half of their measly six free throws.
For a team that generates 70.1 ppg, the Jayhawks are shooting almost as well from long distance (.385) as they are the field overall (.429), and they have just two players averaging double figures in Perry Ellis (12.4 ppg) and Mason (12.3 ppg). Balance has been the key, as six others net between 5.5 and 9.3 ppg. Kansas is outworking the opposition with regard to corralling loose balls (+6.3 rebounding margin), but the squad is in the red when it comes to turnover differential (-1.3).