To hear Texas A&M; coach Gary Blair tell it, the Kansas University women’s basketball team has nothing to worry about.
“Give this team credit,” said Blair, following last Saturday’s 76-65 victory over KU at Allen Fieldhouse. “They’ll make the tournament. But they’re going to have a lot of games come down to the wire.”
The loss to No. 14 Texas A&M; dropped the Jayhawks to 15-3 overall and 4-2 in Big 12 play and turned out to be one of the few conference games so far that did not go down to the wire. With the Jayhawks slated to take on No. 21 Texas Tech at 7 tonight in the fieldhouse, proving Blair right is on the minds of the Jayhawks.
“It’s a bounce-back league,” KU coach Bonnie Henrickson said. “We’ve got a great opportunity to get one, and it’ll be a great game.”
In winning three conference road games for the first time since 2001, the Jayhawks have jumped out to a strong start in conference play and have been one of the surprise teams of the early going. While they’ve been particularly good on the road — winning at Texas, Missouri and Oklahoma State — they’ve been somewhat of a disappointment at home. With home losses to Kansas State and Texas A&M; and a double-overtime victory against Iowa State, the friendly confines of Allen Fieldhouse have yet to be too kind to the home team, and several Jayhawks said recently that their struggles at home have made it difficult to enjoy their success away from Lawrence.
“It does take a lot away because it’s at home,” junior point guard Angel Goodrich said. “But this league is tough. You have to take it for what it is. There are tough teams, there are ranked teams, there are defending national champs and you have to grind it out every single day.”
Added junior forward Carolyn Davis: “It makes no sense. I just want to switch all of the games to away now if we’re playing better away. We love our crowd, and I hope people keep coming out to watch us play. We’ll get a win.”
Tonight’s match-up pits two teams in desperate need of a victory, as the Red Raiders (14-4, 2-4) have dropped four straight since opening the season 14-0, and the Jayhawks are looking to shake their home woes.
Texas Tech has won the last 12 meetings against KU and leads the all-time series 14-3. The Jayhawks’ last victory against the Red Raiders came in January of 1999, when they topped Tech, 55-45, in Lawrence.
Senior forward, Kierra Mallard, leads the Red Raiders’ attack and is averaging team-highs of 13.1 points and 8.8 rebounds per game.
Defensively, Tech ranks 12th in the nation in steals per game (12.7) and 13th in rebounding margin, as the Red Raiders have outrebounded their opponents by an average of 8.4 boards per game.
Despite those numbers, Tech certainly will have its hands full with KU’s dynamic duo of Davis and Goodrich. Goodrich, who averages 12.7 points per contest, leads the nation in assists-per-game, with 7.7 per outing. Davis (17.6 ppg) leads the nation in field goal percentage at 62.2 percent.
Despite all of her shiny stats and the significant improvement her team has shown on the road this season, Goodrich said she hopes her team will remember what went wrong against Texas A&M; and Kansas State when it faces Texas Tech tonight.
“You can always learn a lot from a loss,” Goodrich said. “And we need to take that and build momentum going into Wednesday.”