The race for the Big 12 title has become interesting to say the least with Four other teams that have the same or better record than Kansas. This could be the year the streak comes to an end, though that’s been said before. The difference is that the Jayhawks have lost five of six true road Games and there are still five more to go. They’ll get the advantage of Allen Fieldhouse in this matchup, but it’ll be far from easy against one of the best defensive teams in the country.
Texas Tech hit a rough patch a week ago that includedback-to-back road losses by at least nine points each and that’s what a lot of KU bettors will look at. The Red Raiders have won their last two, but they both came at home. Then again, it’s not like Kansas has won many Games easy, taking its last two at home by a combined six points. In all, KU actually has a negative point differential in Conference play.
The outlier in this Game is that Tech’s offense isn’t very good, doing few things well with one consistent offensive threat in Jarrett Culver (18.5 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 3.9 apg). Still, the Red Raiders rate well in a couple areas like drawing fouls and making buckets inside the arc. The issue is that Kansas excels at both of those things defensively. On the other end, it’s good offense against good defense and according to the numbers, Tech’s defense has been better as of late. The Raiders are third in the country in terms of efficiency, doing everything well outside of grabbing rebounds. Unfortunately for Kansas, that’s not an area it focuses on with more of a small-ball lineup.
The Jayhawks are still figuring out that lineup with Four smaller players surrounded by Dedric LAwson (19.2 ppg, 10.9 rpg). The loss of Udoka Azubuike changed everything, but there’s still time to figure things out. Freshman Ochai Agbaji was given his first start of the season last Game and managed 24 points and seven boards in 35 minutes. Of course, he shot 8-for-10 from the field and that probably won’t be the norm. Otherwise, the KU offense has stagnated at times because LAwson can only do so much as an undersized, not very athletic big man. LAgerald Vick (14.5 ppg) has had some huge Games, but he also isn’t consistent, which is why he was benched last Game, as he hasn’t surpassed his scoring average in the last Four Games. Devon Dotson and Marcus Garrett can get to the hoop when they want, but similar to the rest of the team, aren’t good shooters from deep. Quentin Grimes was supposed to be a factor, but he’s fallen off in a big way since the first couple Games of the season. against this defense, the only hope may be LAwson and he’ll be matched by Tariq Owens and Norense Odiase, one of which supplies height and the other brings bulk. If those two hold their ground, this has all the signs of an ugly Game.
The Red Raiders still have to Scoreand that’s been an issue on the road. Culver should get his no matter who Kansas throws on him, but it’s a mixed bag from the rest. They don’t shoot a ton with Davide Moretti a leader in that category at 41.5% with 82 attempted threes. Matt Mooney has 30 points in the last two Games, but has just Four in the last two road Games. Owens has also been extremely inconsistent and has to stay out of foul trouble against LAwson.
This Game should be close with the only way Tech can win is if someone steps up other than Culver. But with the spread so low, Kansas will get plenty of bets simply because it’s playing at home against a team that lacks offensive talent.
Our Pick – Kansas -4