Texas Tech-Kansas Preview

Bill Self doesn’t need to remind his Kansas players about the
school’s last game in the Big 12 Championship.

Atop the rankings once again, the Jayhawks look to make up for
last year’s early tournament exit Thursday when they face Texas
Tech in quarterfinal play in Kansas City.

A year ago, Kansas won its fifth straight Big 12 regular-season
title, but it was upset 71-64 by Baylor in its first game of the
tournament. It was the first time the Jayhawks lost their initial
contest in the 13-year history of the event.

Though Kansas (29-2) went on to reach the round of 16 in the
NCAA tournament and came back to win another conference
championship this season, a majority of its roster is back and
still remembers the sting of last year’s defeat.

“For us to win the conference and then lose our first game in
the tournament was very disappointing,” said star guard Sherron
Collins, who had 16 points against Baylor. “We’re trying not to let
that happen. We’re working hard and staying positive.”

Winners of consecutive games since dropping their only league
contest at Oklahoma State on Feb. 27, the Jayhawks certainly have
the motivation to earn a league-record seventh Big 12 tournament
title some 40 miles from their Lawrence campus.

“We are a lot better basketball team than we were last year,”
Self said. “Last year if one guy out of two did not play well, we
probably did not have a great chance to win. This year it has been
proven that we probably have enough depth and balance.”

With four players averaging double figures and eight playing at
least 15 minutes per contest, Kansas won the league’s
regular-season title by four games. The Jayhawks returned to the
No. 1 spot in the poll after previously top-ranked Syracuse lost at
Louisville on Saturday, and they’re likely headed to a No. 1 seed
in the NCAA tournament.

In 2008, Kansas won the national championship after winning the
league tournament in Kansas City. However, the Jayhawks feel they
have something to prove as the event returns to the Sprint
Center.

“We want to go play like we’re the best team in the country and
finish the season off as the best team in the country,” freshman
Thomas Robinson said.

That quest beings Thursday against ninth-seeded Texas Tech
(17-14), which snapped a seven-game losing streak with an 82-67 win
over Colorado in Wednesday’s first round.

Kansas won 89-63 at home in its only meeting with Texas Tech on
Jan. 16. Marcus Morris had 20 points as the Jayhawks held the Red
Raiders to a season-low 32.8 percent shooting. Morris is averaging
15.5 points and 8.0 rebounds while shooting 63.2 percent from the
field in two career games versus Texas Tech.

Though Kansas has won nine of 12 against Texas Tech, Red Raiders
coach Pat Knight knows anything is possible, especially after what
Baylor did last year.

“Yeah, it’s going to be tough,” said Knight, whose team allowed
a league-worst 76.4 points per game during the season. “It’s like
comparing my win/loss record to my old man’s. It’s going to be
tough. (But) you get a chance to play the No. 1 team in the
country. A lot of funny things happen in these conference
tournaments.”

Texas Tech leading scorer Mike Singletary (14.8 points per
game), who had 13 against Colorado, looks to bounce back after
being held scoreless versus the Jayhawks in January.

This is the second tournament meeting between the teams. Kansas
won 90-50 in the 2002 semifinals in Kansas City.