If Kansas wants to continue its Big 12 streak, a win here would be vital. Even if they don’t win, the Jayhawks will likely be favored in the rest of their Games with their two remaining road contests being at both Oklahoma schools. That’s why this Game is a little more important for Texas Tech, still with trips to TCU and Iowa State on the Schedule. If the Red Raiders lose as a favorite in this Game, they can say goodbye to any hopes of the Big 12 title.
When these teams met at the beginning of the month at Allen Fieldhouse, it was never close with Kansas leading the entire way, including 46-26 at halftime. Obviously, something has to change for the Red Raiders and it has to be on the defensive end after allowing 79 points in that Game, the worst effort of the season for the most efficient defense in the country. To help matters, LAgerald Vick, who scored 13 points in that first meeting, is away from the team. The problem is that Dedric LAwson and Devon Dotson were the best players in that first Game, combining for 45 points. However, there’s almost no chance Kansas can repeat that first performance since those three guys combined to go 9-for-12 from distance. All of them are decent shooters, but expecting the same production, especially without Vick, is a stretch.
The Jayhawks have turned to Mitch Lightfoot and David McCorMACk a little more since Vick left and that’s worked for the most part and it will also give Tech a completely different look from the previous matchup. The problem for Kansas is that the move to go bigger could actually help Texas Tech because it prefers to slow things down. Instead of exclusively putting Norense Odiase or Tariq Owens on Dedric LAwson, those guys can now be used to mark the slower Lightfoot or McCorMACk. That still doesn’t leave an answer to stopping LAwson, but the change could benefit the Red Raiders. Plus, that also allows the Raiders to go big and put Jarrett Culver at the three, which will in turn be a problem for Ochai Agbaji and Quentin Grimes. Stopping Dotson is another question, but it’s important to note that he’s made more than two threes just three times this season and one of those came in the first meeting.
The other problem for Kansas is that it’s still had problems on the road, needing overtime to take down TCU last week. Texas Tech may be playing its best basketball of the season, winning its last Four by at least 12 points with three of those coming by 25. That’s because everyone has stepped up around Culver, who was often the only offensive option in the first half of the season. Culver struggled with only 10 points in that first meeting and as long as Davide Moretti and Matt Mooney continue their stout play on the perimeter, this Game could go the opposite of the first meeting.
Going big without Vick has helped the Jayhawks against weaker teams, but things may be a little different in this Game. The Red Raiders have the bodies down low, but also have a guy like Culver that can play multiple positions due to his length. Still, if LAwson and Dotson can repeat their performances from that first Game, there will be an opening to at least cover for the road team.
Our Pick – Kansas +5.5