Kansas-Texas Tech Preview
Kansas is coming off its best offensive performance of the season and entering a matchup with a Big 12 foe it has dominated the last five years.
The eighth-ranked Jayhawks head to Lubbock on Tuesday night in search of their ninth straight win over Texas Tech as their final tune-up before a showdown for the conference lead.
Kansas (19-6, 10-2) remained alone atop the Big 12 of the league and a game ahead of Texas with Saturday's 95-65 home win over TCU. The 19th-ranked Longhorns visit Lawrence on Saturday, and they won the first meeting 81-69 on Feb. 1.
Top scorers Andrew Wiggins and Perry Ellis accounted for just 18 points that day, but they totaled 49 over the weekend as the Jayhawks easily bounced back from last Monday's 85-82 overtime loss at Kansas State.
Ellis scored a career-high 32 points against TCU.
"He takes good shots in a rhythm, and he always looks for his teammates," said Wiggins, who leads the Jayhawks with 16.1 points per game. "He was aggressive all game, attacking the hoop, making 3s. He did everything."
The Jayhawks dismantled the Horned Frogs with a season-best 61.5 percent shooting, paced by Ellis' 13-of-15 mark.
"He was great," coach Bill Self said of Ellis, second on the team with 14.0 points per game. "He made shots, stretched it, then made mid-range shots, took the ball strong to the hole. I think one of his two misses he got back. He was without question our best player today. Other guys played well offensively, but certainly nobody played like Perry."
Wiggins, though, also had a strong game as he hit 7 of 11 from the field after a four-game stretch in which he shot 31.4 percent.
Kansas did struggle from 3-point range again, going 5 of 19 on Saturday, and is hitting 24.0 percent in the last three games.
The solid performance inside the perimeter came without freshman center Joel Embiid, who sat out with knee and back injuries after playing limited minutes at Kansas State. Embiid, averaging 10.7 points and a team-high 7.8 rebounds, practiced Sunday and is expected to play against the Red Raiders (13-12, 5-7).
Kansas' eight consecutive wins over Texas Tech have been by an average of 25.9 points, most recently winning 91-63 in last year's Big 12 tournament. The Jayhawks shot 66.0 percent, their best mark since 2005.
This Red Raiders team is coming off one of its worst defensive efforts, forcing only seven turnovers and letting then-No. 11 Iowa State shoot 51.9 percent Saturday. Texas Tech lost 70-64 and had a three-game winning streak snapped.
However, that game came on the road. The Red Raiders have won three of their last four home games with two of those victories coming against ranked opponents.
They're 10-4 at home and 2-4 overall against Top 25 foes. Beating a top-10 team, though, has been more of a chore with 17 straight losses dating to a January 2009 win over Kansas. Three of those defeats came last season to the Jayhawks.
On the road against the Cyclones, the Red Raiders came back from an 18-point second-half deficit but weren't able to finish the job. It didn't stop coach Tubby Smith from continuing to see progress in his first season in Lubbock.
"We've got some veteran players. We knew that coming in. We just needed to challenge them to be tougher, both mentally and physically. We're gaining. We're getting better in those areas," Smith said.
Jaye Crockett had game highs of 23 points and 11 rebounds. The senior, first on the team with 14.8 points per game, is averaging 18.0 points and 10.3 rebounds in his last three contests.
Kansas and Texas Tech will meet again March 5 in Lawrence.