Lubbock, Texas 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.