College Basketball Pick
Once again, everything is going Kansas’s way in its quest for a 12th-straight Big 12 regular season title. The Jayhawks have a few more tests to get there with this Texas Tech Game and road trips to Baylor and Oklahoma State standing out on the Schedule. These teams met a little over a month ago and KU had no problems en route to an 85-68 win. It wasn’t that they played a great Game, allowing 11 made threes and turning over the ball 14 times, but the trio of Frank Mason, Devonte’ Graham and Josh Jackson combined for 63 points. All three of them did what they wanted and that will be the main thing Texas Tech has to focus on stopping in this meeting.
The Red Raiders have a decent resume and some nice wins, but still don’t have a true road win or won consecutive Games in Big 12 play yet. That likely won’t happen within the next week as they get Kansas, Baylor and West Virginia in three straight. Winning one of those home Games will be important for them. But winning this one will undoubtedly be difficult. Tech has been up-and-down at home winning one-point Games against WVU and Kansas State, but also flopping against OK State, losing by 19 points. They’ll need to put in a complete effort here after losing at TCU on Tuesday.
But the same problems persist for the Red Raiders and that’s stopping the KU offense. At the bottom of the Conference in terms of most defensive categories, including efficiency, there’s no reason to suggest things will change in this Game. Then again, crazier things have happened in the Big 12 in the last couple weeks. Guys like Keenan Evans, Devon Thomas and Justin Gray will all need to step up on the defensive end. Both Graham and Mason had numerous free looks in that first meeting for Kansas and that’s something that needs to be limited for the home team. Finding a way to stop Josh Jackson is also at the top of the list, whether that’s through Anthony Livingston or Aaron Ross. Playing zone against the best shooting team in the Conference probably won’t help much either.
So with the Jayhawks expected to get usual production from their top guys, Tech will need someone to keep up. Last Game the only players that scored more than six points were the shooters: Evans, Ross and Zach Smith. Smith played solid in that first Game with 17 points and three made 3s, but his job in this Game is to draw fouls and work the likes of LAnden LUcas and Carlton Bragg down low. While shooting threes is great, the Raiders need someone that can win the battle in the paint because they won’t be topping what Kansas has on the perimeter.
Texas Tech will have a chance in this Game playing at home, but it’s going to take a complete effort. The guards need to play great defensively, while Smith and either Anthony Livingston or Aaron Ross win matchups in the paint. Otherwise, the Jayhawk guards will be too much to overcome once again.
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