Lubbock, TX (Sports Network) - Taking aim at their ninth consecutive Big 12
regular season title, the sixth-ranked Kansas Jayhawks hit the road for
conference action on Saturday, against the Texas Tech Red Raiders in Lubbock.
It wasn't easy, but Bill Self's Jayhawks opened Big 12 play at home this week,
with a 97-89 overtime victory against a very tough Iowa State squad. The win
was the team's 12th straight since its only loss of the season, a 67-64
setback to Michigan State on Nov. 13.
Chris Walker's first season with Texas Tech has come with mixed reviews thus
far. The team is three games over .500 at 8-5, but all five losses have come
at United Spirit Arena. One of those occurred in the team's last outing, an
82-48 rout at the hands of Baylor. The loss halted a three-game win streak and
dropped the Red Raiders to 1-1 in-conference.
Kansas has dominated this series with wins in 22 of the 26 matchups. The
Jayhawks have won five straight meetings and seven of the last eight overall.
Kansas earned its 22nd straight conference-opening win and 31st straight
victory at the Allen Fieldhouse in exciting fashion, dominating the overtime
period against Iowa State. Ben McLemore led the way with a career-high 33
points, the most by a KU freshman since Danny Manning's 35 points against
Oklahoma State in 1985. McLemore was 10-of-12 from the floor, including a
perfect 6-of-6 from behind the arc. Meanwhile Jeff Withey and Kevin Young
owned the paint, both recording double-doubles. Withey posted 15 points and 12
rebounds, while Young finished with 10 points and 12 boards as well. Point
guard Elijah Johnson wasn't to be overshadowed though, as he also posted a
double-double with 12 points and 10 assists. Travis Releford finished off the
scoring onslaught with 12 points as well.
It has been that kind of season for Kansas thus far, as the team has
flourished at the offensive end of the floor, averaging 79.1 ppg, on almost 50
percent shooting (.499). The Jayhawks have also had stretches of great
defensive play, with opponents averaging just 61.4 ppg on under 35 percent
shooting (.349). McLemore has made an immediate impact, shooting .510 from the
floor, including .459 from 3-point range, to average a team-high 16.9 ppg.
Withey has been a beast in the middle, as the seven-footer averages 13.5
points and 8.4 rebounds per game, while leading the nation in blocked shots
(5.1 bpg). Releford is converting a ridiculous 62.9 percent of his shots and
puts up 13.3 ppg, while Johnson is both a scorer (10.1 ppg) and deft
distributor (5.6 apg).
Mediocre play at both ends of the floor has plagued the Red Raiders this
season. The team is outscoring opponents by just 2.8 points per game, but is
averaging a modest 73.2 ppg on a bland 44.4 percent shooting. Jaye Crockett is
an efficient scorer, netting a team-best 14.8 ppg on 56.7 percent shooting. He
is also the top rebounder on the roster at 8.5 rpg. Josh Gray is the only
other double-digit threat at this time, netting 10.0 ppg, although Dejan
Kravic and Jordan Tolbert are eager to join the group with 9.5 and 8.4 ppg,
The Red Raiders converted just 30.5 percent from the field, weighed down by an
ugly 5-of-24 showing from 3-point range, while Baylor lit up the scoreboard at
a 53.6 percent clip. Crockett led the team with 13 points off the bench, but
received little help from the rest of the roster in the embarrassing 34-point
loss. Baylor held a 41-31 edge in rebounding and outscored the hometown Red
Raiders at the free-throw line 14-7.
The Sports Network