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Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Night and day: Texas Tech tough at home

Kansas guard Andrew Wiggins flashes a wide smile after getting a bucket with seconds left to life the Jayhawks over Texas Tech 64-63 on Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014 at United Spirit Arena in Lubbock, Texas. At right is Kansas forward Perry Ellis.

Kansas guard Andrew Wiggins flashes a wide smile after getting a bucket with seconds left to life the Jayhawks over Texas Tech 64-63 on Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014 at United Spirit Arena in Lubbock, Texas. At right is Kansas forward Perry Ellis.

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— Kansas University’s 32-point trouncing of Texas Tech on Jan. 10 in Allen Fieldhouse does not guarantee another rout of the Red Raiders at 8 tonight in United Supermarkets Arena.

“Winning in Lubbock will be a bear, like last year. We lucked into a one-point win there and won by 26 or 30 here (Allen Fieldhouse),” KU coach Bill Self said, reflecting on last year’s 25-point victory in Lawrence and narrow 64-63 decision in the Red Raiders’ 15,098-seat building.

KU actually trailed Tech, 63-62, with 12 seconds left a year ago against a Red Raider team that entered with a 5-7 record in Big 12 play compared to KU’s 10-2 mark.

Following a timeout, KU’s Perry Ellis passed to center Joel Embiid, who drove the baseline, but had the ball poked away with four seconds left. Andrew Wiggins retrieved the ball in the lane and dropped in a one-footer with 1.7 seconds remaining for the winner.

Freshman sensation Wiggins said it was the first time since he started playing basketball he’d hit a game-winner at the buzzer.

“Perry threw the ball to Jo. Jo did the right thing trying to score, but he fumbled it. Andrew was ‘Johnny on the Spot’ there,” Self said of the pivotal play needed to subdue the Red Raiders.

A much younger Texas Tech team takes a 12-12 record, 2-9 in Big 12 games, into today’s game against No. 8-ranked KU (19-4, 8-2).

Four Red Raider freshmen played extensively in Tech’s 86-54 loss to KU on Jan. 10 in Allen. Zach Smith, a 6-8 forward from Plano, Texas, and Isaiah Manderson, a 6-10 center from Bronx, New York, scored eight points apiece. Norense Odiase, a 6-9 forward from Fort Worth, Texas, had four points, and Keenan Evans, a 6-3 guard from Richardson, Texas, had three rebounds and two points.

“We know those young kids will feel more comfortable at home. Those guys had some of the best performances they’d had at that point this year,” Self said, adding, “It’s one thing to get three freshmen starting in Allen Fieldhouse. You think it’s no big deal. All of a sudden, you feel people breathing down your neck.”

KU held a 42-25 halftime lead in the first meeting. Ellis finished with 15 points, while Kelly Oubre Jr. had 14, Cliff Alexander 12 and Frank Mason III 10 points for the Jayhawks.

Tubby Smith’s Tech team is coming off Saturday’s 75-38 blowout road loss to Iowa State. The Cyclones atoned for a 78-73 loss to Tech on Jan. 24 at United Supermarkets Arena.

That’s right. ISU, which dropped from second to third in the Big 12 standings after a loss to new runner-up Oklahoma on Monday night, beat Tech by 37 points at home and lost by five on the road to the ninth-place Red Raiders.

Tech hit 30.9 percent of its shots Saturday and went 4-of-20 from three. In the game at Allen this year, Tech hit 32.7 percent of its shots and went 5-of-17 from three.

“Guys are not watching, not seeing the ball when they’re running back in transition,” Smith told the Lubbock Avalanche Journal after the ISU game. “Consequently, they’re not picking up the player with the ball. They aren’t rotating over to take a charge. ... They were getting wide-open shots (hitting 56 percent in both halves).”

The inconsistent Red Raiders also were hammered by Oklahoma, 81-36, on Jan. 28 in Norman. Tech defeated Kansas State, 64-47, on Feb. 4 in Lubbock after losing to KSU, 58-51, on Jan. 14.

Tubby’s teams tough: “He has been around the block a few times. He’s good. I’d say toughness,” Self added, asked to describe Smith-coached teams. “They are always going to be good defensively. Tubby’s teams whether at Tulsa or Georgia or Kentucky or Minnesota ... their teams guard. They make it hard on you to score. They don’t give up easy stuff. The bottom line is his teams traditionally hang their hat on the defensive end.”

KU has been inconsistent at times: Self on Monday’s Big 12 coaches teleconference was asked about his team often playing one good half and one bad half in games.

“From a vocal leadership standpoint, we do not have that, just one guy that can say, ‘OK, guys, everybody look at me. This is what we’re going to do. It’s going to work? All right?’

“When it’s not going good on the court, I think sometimes we have a tendency to ... worry about an individual rather than the guy to your left and right. I think a lot of young teams go through that. That’s obviously something we have to correct. We’ve been working on it. We’ve actually been more consistent of late than we were earlier. That was a pretty inconsistent effort Saturday (loss at Oklahoma State).”

Self on Kelly Oubre Jr., who had one point in 14 minutes versus Oklahoma State: “Sometimes I think we forget why we play well, and we start relying on things that maybe aren’t who we are,” Self said. “For instance, Kelly is an extra-possession offensive rebounder, deflections/steals guy, which sets up his offense. Maybe he hasn’t been quite as active defensively. His offense is fine. He just hasn’t made shots recently. It’s just, ‘What are we going to do to create some offense from our defense?’ I don’t think he’s been quite as good at that here lately, not as consistently good as he was earlier.”

This, that: KU junior Perry Ellis has 983 career points entering the game, meaning he needs 17 to become the 56th KU player to score 1,000 points. ... KU leads the all-time series with Texas Tech 28-4. KU has won 11 straight in the series. The Jayhawks are 6-3 in United Supermarkets Arena. ... Self is 15-6 against Tech, including a 14-3 mark as KU coach. Smith is 2-6 vs. KU, 0-3 while at TTU.

Giles down to eight: Harry Giles, a 6-10 junior power forward from Wesleyan Christian Academy in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, who is ranked No. 2 in the Class of 2016 by Rivals.com, has narrowed his list of schools to eight, Giles reported on Twitter. “Top 8 Schools No order Duke, Kentucky, Kansas, Syracuse, UNC, Wake Forest, Ohio State, UNLV,” Giles tweeted.

Comments

Aaron Paisley 3 years, 11 months ago

The section that starts "KU has been inconsistent at times..." is the single biggest issue with this team and has been since Tyshawn and T-Rob graduated. Elijah was not a good leader, Naadir wasn't a good, Perry isn't a good leader, Mason isn't a vocal leader. Mason has the potential to be a great leader, Selden showed glimpses of it last year but hasn't embraced that role this year. Until someone steps up as the vocal leader of Kansas, KU is going to struggle to hold leads and keep composure in late game situations on a consistent basis. Someone on another article mentioned how flat KU is coming out of halftime, this is also a big reason for that. Bill Self can only give so many halftime speeches before they lose their impact, sometimes you need a player to step up and give that speech at halftime that gets the team fired up.

Dale Rogers 3 years, 11 months ago

In one game fairly recently I saw on TV that Selden waved the guys over, huddled on the court, during the game, and said something to them, rotating his head to look at all of them. The guys nodded their heads. At the time I thought Selden was beginning to take on the leadership role. Apparently it was a one-time thing.

Dale Rogers 3 years, 11 months ago

In one game fairly recently I saw on TV that Selden waved the guys over, huddled on the court, during the game, and said something to them, rotating his head to look at all of them. The guys nodded their heads. At the time I thought Selden was beginning to take on the leadership role. Apparently it was a one-time thing.

Mike Riches 3 years, 11 months ago

So far this year, this team has responded very well after a loss. They have seemed to come out with increased focus and determination; they've won their three games after a loss by an average of 16 points, although, all three previous games were at home. I suspect Tubby Smith probably sighed when KU lost on Saturday for this reason. I'm hoping our guys come to really play for 40 minutes tonight! If they do, we'll maintain a two game lead in the Big 12.

Mark Lindrud 3 years, 11 months ago

My thoughts exactly. Typically, a KU loss means at least two focused and determined games follow, which will be good since after we play Tech and Baylor, we will have new focus playing West Virginia next Monday. The ISU loss was huge for us, but now we need to finish strong, and get momentum going for the postseason.

Jerry Walker 3 years, 11 months ago

We're a better defensive team with Lucas on the floor. He hedges screens well and our help rotation is way better.

Here's a suggestion from my very comfortable seat on my sofa. To prevent the sluggish starts I'd like to see us open with some full court pressure. Not necessarily as any great strategy but to simply allow the boys to work up a good sweat. That might have prevented OSU's run to open the 2nd half.

Robert Brock 3 years, 11 months ago

We tanked in Stillwater because the Pokes shut down our offense in the second half. The Hawks managed to score 21 points after halftime. Plenty of TOs.

Jerry Walker 3 years, 11 months ago

You whiffed on the point. Pressing full court was not suggested as a tactical move but simply a way to jump start the player's motors...which might have improved their offensive performance.

Tom Jones 3 years, 11 months ago

One problem I have had with Coach Self over the years is that he views pressing as "weak" and "unnecessary". His line of reasoning is that if you play great half court defense, pressing is not a good strategy because you will occasionally give up easy baskets that you otherwise wouldn't.

A couple of his teams have not been athletic enough to press. A few others have not been deep enough and a couple others (notably the title team) have actually been so good in the half court that they didn't ever need to press unless they were down big late.

This team is long, athletic, deep and not outstanding in the half court. They should have a killer press that they employ randomly for 7-10 minutes a game.

Add the extra benefit of us being better suited to attack other team's presses because we practice against our own press and it's a no-brainer. This team is built for it.

Jerry Walker 3 years, 11 months ago

I tend to agree overall with Coach Self. But I strongly agree with your points about this team...especially the part about randomly pressing for 7-10 minutes per game.

Michael Wattai 3 years, 11 months ago

I'll predict right now that KU will lose at Tech.

Joe Ross 3 years, 11 months ago

I'll predict right now that your prediction is wrong.

JD Roth 3 years, 11 months ago

I will predict that KU wins going away.

Erich Hartmann 3 years, 11 months ago

Uh, is it just me, or has this team actually been pressing in spot occasions, along with the trapping defense? I've seen that pretty regularly for most of this season.

Tom Jones makes a decent point about Self's tendencies "over the years", but Im not so sure I'd include this year in that mix.

Now for the counter-point in support of Self's view that too much trapping or pressing will cause the "prepared" foe to practice 'breaking the press', just as Faylor actually beat the pants off WVa (on the road, no less!) by breaking their press. "Leads to easy buckets once they break your press" (as happenned to WVa). Recall Roy beat the pants off Pitino's Kentucky team who refused to quit pressing, and Roy's team kept breaking the press for bucket after bucket, KU scoring over 140pts in that game. What a lesson, again reinforced by Baylor.

So, the best tactic is to unexpectedly throw a press or a trap against the foe as a junk D, and catch him off guard. Its all about a few possession swing in our favor in a tight game. If our tendencies are to press or trap too much, then the opponent will scout and prepare for it. Another example is how Self fooled Roy with the triangle-&-2 defense against UNC in March Madness...Roy in the post-game interview, still had no idea what defense it was that totally made 5-7 UNC possessions ugly...which was all KU needed. "Is that what that was??" was what Roy said to the reporter.

Catch 'em off guard, like a quick crossover dribble catches the opponent off guard. Same principle. Do it too many times, and it now is scoutable.

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