Kansas-Texas Tech Preview
Kansas needed everything it had to win its first game since securing the No. 1 ranking. It may not be able to rest easy in its next one, either.
The Jayhawks play just their second true road game of the season Saturday night against Texas Tech, a stop that's no longer the break in the Big 12 schedule it's been in years past.
Kansas (13-1, 2-0 Big 12) is riding a 12-game winning streak and had a much-needed four-day layoff after playing three overtimes to outlast Oklahoma 109-106 in Monday's showdown between the nation's top two ranked teams. The Jayhawks' next challenge will be avoiding a letdown from an exhausting win as it faces an opponent it's dominated over the last six seasons.
"So much of that is not the physical, it's the emotional letdown, going from being so geeked up to being drained," coach Bill Self said. "We'll handle it, but I don't know if there's a perfect way to do it."
The Jayhawks likely won't be looking past Texas Tech (11-2, 1-1), which has shown improvement in Tubby Smith's third season. The Red Raiders, 3-15 in the Big 12 in 2014-15, had won 10 straight before giving 13th-ranked Iowa State a scare in an eventual 76-69 loss on Wednesday.
"I think Texas Tech probably helped us some (Wednesday) because our guys saw what they're capable of," Self said. "I think they certainly got our players' respect."
Defense has keyed the Red Raiders' improvement, as they've held opponents to 38.9 percent shooting and 66.1 points per game. They limited Iowa State, among the national leaders in field goal percentage, to a season-low 39.7 percent.
Stopping Kansas, which routed then-No. 23 Baylor 102-74 in last Saturday's Big 12 opener, may prove more difficult. The Jayhawks rank second in Division I at 89.8 points per game and are shooting a nation's best 46.3 percent from 3-point range. They're 22 of 41 from beyond the arc in conference play, during which Wayne Selden has totaled 45 points while going 8 of 13 from 3.
Kansas made 11 3s in each of its two 2014-15 victories over the Red Raiders, including a 73-51 rout in Lubbock on Feb. 10. The Jayhawks are 29-4 all-time against Texas Tech and have won 12 straight in the series since an 84-65 road defeat in March 2009.
The Iowa State loss was the Red Raiders' ninth straight to a Top 25 team, though Smith was encouraged by the way his team cut an 18-point first-half deficit to three with three minutes left.
"I was really proud of our kids the way we battled back," he said. "We showed a lot of heart and a lot of toughness."
Texas Tech, 9-0 at home this season, recorded a 78-73 win over then-No. 9 Iowa State on Jan. 24, 2015 for its lone win in its last 16 matchups versus ranked teams.
Kansas downed San Diego State 70-57 on Dec. 22 in its only road test this season. The Jayhawks visit No. 17 West Virginia on Tuesday.