Texas Tech (13-16, 5-10) versus Kansas (22-7, 13-3)
Where: Phog Allen Fieldhouse, Lawrence, Kansas
When: 7 p.m. (CT), Wednesday
TV: Big 12 Network (U-Verse 14, Suddenlink 6, DirecTV 640, Dish 432)
The Matchup: On the one hand Texas Tech catches a break in the upcoming game with Kansas in that the Jayhawks will be without big freshman post Joel Embiid who reaggravated a back injury in KU's most recent game, a loss to Oklahoma State. On the other, the Red Raider venture into Phog Allen Fieldhouse on Senior Night, an occasion on which the Jayhawks have won 30 straight games. If nothing else, Tech has an opportunity to make some history.
The Red Raiders came within a couple of seconds and one loose ball of upending Kansas a few weeks ago in Lubbock. Alas, that loose ball found its way into the mitts of freshman wunderkind Andrew Wiggins who lay in the winning points at the last moment. Great players have a knack for making those sorts of plays so if Tech is to pull off the monumental upset, they cannot allow it to come down to the final possession.
Even though Kansas will be without Embiid, keeping this game within striking distance on Senior Night will be a huge chore for a Red Raider squad that seems to be limping down the home stretch. Leading scorer Jaye Crockett is beset with knee soreness that has dramatically reduced his explosiveness and effectiveness. If, as was the case in Tech's last game against Baylor, Crokett is a shadow of himself, freshman forwards Aaron Ross and Alex Foster will get a profound baptism by Phog.
And as is almost always the case with this Tech team, controlling tempo and playing disciplined basketball will be key to having a shot at victory. The Red Raiders will thus milk the shot clock into the final 12 seconds most times before looking to score. And when they do look, they'll look inside rather than hoist up deep jumpers which often produce long rebounds and run-outs for the opposition.
Kansas will look for a better game out of Naadir Tharpe than they got in Lubbock. Tech point guard Robert Turner clearly outplayed Tharpe and one can be certain that equalizing this matchup will be a point of emphasis for KU coach Bill Self. Perry Ellis, Kansas' second leading rebounder and scorer will also look to have a better game than he did earlier against the Red Raiders. He was a relative non-entity in that nail-biter.
Tech Player to Watch: Tubby Smith got a very good game out of Aaron Ross in the recent loss at Baylor and another top effort wouldn't go amiss against Kansas. In only 19 minutes of action, Ross racked up 10 points on five-of-six shooting, four rebounds and three assists.
Kansas Player to Watch: In the absence of Joel Embiid, look for senior Tarik Black to attempt to take up the slack. At 6-foot-9 and 260 pounds, he's certainly capable of filling a void. And do not overlook the fact that he is a senior.
Notable: Kansas has already wrapped up their 10th straight Big 12 basketball title. And more than a few of those titles have come from teams that returned no starters. Bill Self and Roy Williams are elite coaches, but the talent in Lawrence is of Final Four caliber every single season.
Quotable: "Aaron [Ross] looked active today. I think his knee's feeling better. He's probably our smartest player as far as knowing the game, and Alex [Foster] isn't far behind. They're the guys that got us back in the game." —Tubby Smith on his freshman forwards
Tech Prepares for Rematch with Kansas
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