Kansas St.-Texas Tech Preview
Because of a blown lead, Kansas State was forced to sweat out the finish to its most recent road game.
Judging by their recent matchups with Texas Tech, the 13th-ranked Wildcats could have a more comfortable time in their next trip away from home Tuesday night.
Kansas State (17-4, 6-2 Big 12) moved within one game of first-place Kansas in the conference Saturday with a 52-50 win at Oklahoma and the Jayhawks' loss to Oklahoma State.
The Wildcats gave away an eight-point advantage in the final three minutes, but Angel Rodriguez's two free throws with 5.6 seconds left and a missed 3-pointer at the buzzer helped them escape with a victory.
Kansas State's 37.5 percent shooting performance was its second-worst since the beginning of January and the team was 5 of 16 from 3-point range. Rodriguez finished with four points on 1-of-6 shooting, while Will Spradling scored a team-best 12.
"There is definitely relief after a win like that, especially on the road. We knew it was going to be a tough one," Rodriguez said. "It should have been a little easier, but they went on a run and we were just fortunate to win a game."
The Wildcats haven't won a regular-season conference title since finishing atop the Big Eight in 1976-77, and a visit to Texas Tech (9-10, 2-6) could help them take another step toward ending that drought. Kansas State has won the past five meetings by an average of 21.2 points, most recently winning twice last season while holding the Red Raiders under 50 points both times.
The Wildcats have won their last two trips to Lubbock by an average of 20.5 points after losing their first six there as a conference opponent.
In this visit, Kansas State will face a team that's lost six of seven overall and six of its past nine home games. The Red Raiders committed a season-high 22 turnovers and gave up 27 points off those miscues in a 77-61 home loss to West Virginia on Saturday.
With his season-best 14 points, Ty Nurse was the only Texas Tech starter to score more than 10. The team's leading scorer and rebounder, Jaye Crockett (12.7 ppg, 7.6 rpg), had 13 points and five boards off the bench.
"We have some young guys, but they're going to learn from this," said Nurse, his team's lone senior.
Nurse missed all eight of his field-goal attempts and scored two points in the last matchup with Kansas State, a 65-46 road loss last Feb. 7.
Texas Tech's Jordan Tolbert averaged 14.5 points and 8.0 rebounds in last season's two meetings and enters this one having scored in double figures in a season-best four straight games. He had 18 points and tied a career high with 13 rebounds in a 73-57 loss at Texas on Jan. 26.
Wildcats leading scorer Rodney McGruder (14.5 ppg) has been held to seven points in each of the past two games and missed six of eight shots Saturday. He has reached double figures in each of his last three matchups with Texas Tech and had a career-best 15 rebounds in a 94-60 drubbing of the Red Raiders on Jan. 15, 2011.
Kansas State, which leads the all-time series 16-12, is giving up a conference-low 57.8 points per game while Texas Tech ranks last with an average of 70.3 allowed.