Who: Texas Tech (12-2, 1-1) vs. Kansas (13-1, 2-0)
Where: Lawrence, Kansas, Phog Allen Fieldhouse
When: Saturday, January 7, 6:15 p.m. (CT)
Radio: Texas Tech Sports Network
Notable: Dating back to the 2001-02 season, Kansas has 250 straight sellouts in Allen Fieldhouse, which seats 16,300.
Quotable: “After they [Arkansas-Little Rock] won in the NCAA tournament, he [Chris Beard] sent me a pic of his team. After the game, they went and celebrated at Whataburger, and that’s kind of the mindset—not spoiled, tough, and I think that the path he’s taken has definitely made him appreciate a lot of different things, and I’m sure his players do as well. I thought that was really cool.”—Kansas head coach Bill Self
Beating Kansas in Lawrence will be a supremely difficult task for Texas Tech, but if early conference play is a good indicator, the Red Raiders will at least have a chance to spring the monumental upset. Hence, after feasting on respectable non-conference competition, the Jayhawks snuck past TCU on the road by only six points, and needed officiating assistance to avoid overtime against Kansas State in Allen Fieldhouse. The power of the Big 12 is tending to make near equals of most of the teams in it.
Regardless, Kansas remains a superb basketball team with tremendous fan support, and beating them in their own nest will require an inspired effort from Texas Tech.
Outstanding shooting is perhaps the most prominent hallmark of this edition of the Jayhawks. KU connects on 51 percent of their field goal attempts, and an astonishing 42 percent of their 3-pointers. In Frank Mason, Svi Michailiuk and Lagerald Vick, Kansas has three players who connect on over 45 percent of their trifectas. That’s like a football team having three receivers who run a 4.3 forty.
Interestingly, however, KU shoots only 61 percent from the charity stripe. It is odd for a team that generally shoots the ball so well to struggle from the free throw line, but the Jayhawks do just that.
The man who makes the Jayhawks go is the above-mentioned Frank Mason. The senior point guard scores 20 points per game, pulls down four rebounds per contest, and hands out six assists per outing. Shadell Millinghaus, who stifled West Virginia point guard Jevan Carter in the second half of Texas Tech’s victory over the Mountaineers in Lubbock, will attempt to do the same to Mason on the road.
Freshman wingman Josh Jackson scores 15 points and pulls down six boards per game, and leads Kansas in blocked shots with 19. He is KU’s customary one-and-done performer.
Like the Jayhawks, the Red Raiders are an excellent shooting team. Tech is No. 4 nationally in field goal percentage connecting on 51 percent of their efforts from the floor. Tech also knocks down 40 percent of their 3-pointers.
Defensively, the Red Raiders limit their opponents to only 40 percent shooting, which is No. 23 in the nation. Tech’s plus-11 rebounding margin is No. 6 nationally.
The Red Raiders continue to be a balanced scoring team, with Keenan Evans, Anthony Livingston, Aaron Ross, Zach Smith and Justin Gray all averaging double digits.
Point guard Devin Thomas’ assist/turnover ratio of 4.5 is tied for fifth best in D1 college basketball.