(AP) — Kansas needed an improbable shot just to get to overtime before eventually winning its Big 12 opener.
Improving to 2-0 in conference play
figures to be much easier. The sixth-ranked Jayhawks – who own one of
the nation’s most efficient offenses – play Saturday at Texas Tech, the
league’s worst defensive team.
Kansas has won five straight meetings, and last season’s 81-46 road victory was the Red Raiders’ worst home loss ever.
The Jayhawks’ 49.9 percent field-goal
shooting leads the Big 12 and is one of the country’s best marks. Texas
Tech’s field-goal defense (44.6 percent) and points per game against
(70.4) are both last in the conference.
Offense wasn’t the problem for Kansas
(13-1, 1-0) in a 97-89 overtime win over Iowa State on Wednesday. Kansas
allowed 79 points in regulation, nearly 20 more than its average
entering the game.
The Jayhawks trailed by six with 4:01
remaining and needed a banked 3-pointer by Ben McLemore in the final
seconds of regulation just to get to overtime. It was their 12th
straight win after the previous 11 came by an average of 20.4 points.
“It just showed toughness,” said Jeff
Withey, who had 15 points and three blocked shots. His 5.1 blocks per
game lead the nation.
“We had the formula to lose that game.
We were down with a couple of minutes left and they kept getting
offensive rebounds and scoring. Ben just took over the last couple of
minutes … That shows he is a tough player to take that big shot.
Moving forward every game matters and getting this win is going to help
us in the long run.”
The game-tying shot was just one
highlight for McLemore, who finished with 33 points, the most by a
Kansas freshman since Danny Manning scored 35 against Oklahoma State in
1985. McLemore was 10 of 12 from the floor and hit all six of his
McLemore’s 16.9 points per game rank second in the Big 12 and his 51.0 field-goal percentage leads all guards.
“(Coach Bill Self) just wanted me to
be more aggressive,” McLemore said. “That’s what I was doing, trying to
be more aggressive and trying to get my teammates involved.”
Texas Tech (8-5, 1-1) will try to
slow him down after struggling defensively in its last game. The Red
Raiders had shown signs of improvement in their previous two games,
limiting Florida A&M and TCU to a combined 33.6 percent shooting,
but they let Baylor shoot 53.6 percent and hit 8 of 14 from 3-point
range in an 82-48 loss Tuesday.
They also made a season-low 30.5 percent of their shots.
“We need to play really well and they
need to play not so well, and whether it’s a function of them taking
you lightly or them having an off-game, that’s where we are,” interim
coach Chris Walker said. “I told the guys that there is a maturity level
that we have to muster against really good teams and we haven’t yet and
we’ve got to keep working towards that.”
Forward Jaye Crockett has been one of
the team’s bright spots, averaging 14.8 points to rank among the
country’s leading scorers off the bench. But he has struggled recently,
shooting 37.0 percent in his last three games compared to 56.7 percent
on the season.