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With 6 games to go Bill Self sees Texas Tech as ‘obvious favorite’ to win Big 12

Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) and Texas Tech center Norense Odiase (32) dive for a ball during the first half, Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2018 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) and Texas Tech center Norense Odiase (32) dive for a ball during the first half, Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2018 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

While the Big 12 is brimming with quality college basketball teams, each capable of beating any league opponent on the right day, Kansas coach Bill Self knows only one conference squad is capable of feeling legitimately satisfied at this point of the season.

The vast majority of the Big 12 heads into this week’s slate of games disgruntled over at least one recent result. But not Texas Tech, the one sitting alone atop of the standings.

“There are some teams on an uptick, but I don’t think anybody’s ecstatic on where their team is at this point in time, with the exception of obviously the Red Raiders,” Self said.

Victorious in five straight league games, Texas Tech (21-4 overall, 9-3 Big 12) has Self’s Jayhawks (19-6, 8-4), the 13-time defending conference champs, in an unfamiliar spot — trailing.

Big 12 regular-season crowns, of course, have become the standard in Self’s tenure. But the 15th-year KU coach wondered Monday whether his players, either consciously or subconsciously, think too much about the race and extending the program’s streak of titles to 14.

“We probably just need to get better,” Self said. “And, you know, the streak is always thrown at us. Although we don’t talk about the streak I know that’s kind of the elephant in the room, so to speak, at least from what I’ve been told. And we just need to get away from that and concentrate on just playing a game at a time.”

Baylor Bears guard Manu Lecomte (20) drives baseline against Kansas center Udoka Azubuike (35) and Kansas guard Lagerald Vick (2) during the second half, Saturday, Feb. 11, 2018 at Ferrell Center in Waco, Texas.

Baylor Bears guard Manu Lecomte (20) drives baseline against Kansas center Udoka Azubuike (35) and Kansas guard Lagerald Vick (2) during the second half, Saturday, Feb. 11, 2018 at Ferrell Center in Waco, Texas. by Nick Krug

Tech owns a one-game lead in the quest for the title in part because No. 13 KU has dropped three of its past six games, but also due to the Red Raiders’ Jan. 2 statement victory at Allen Fieldhouse.

It has been clear to Self since then that Keenan Allen-led Tech has a tough, athletic roster that is well coached by Chris Beard. So he isn’t in any way shocked the Red Raiders are in first place with six games to go.

“They’re the obvious favorite to win our league,” Self declared, “which they should be — they’ve got a game lead. But they’re also the one team in our league, if you really look at our league, everybody else is puttering around.”

It wasn’t long ago that KU responded from a loss to Tech with a five-game winning streak. Self said his Jayhawks, like Oklahoma (16-8, 6-6), West Virginia (18-7, 7-5) and other teams have played well at times, but have gone through stretches where they “have not been very good,” as well.

“Tech is the one team — you take away maybe their one game at Iowa State (70-52 loss, on Jan. 20) … Of their 12 league games they’ve probably been really good in about 11 of them,” Self said. “So they’ve been by far the most consistent.”

Kansas won’t get its rematch with the Red Raiders in Lubbock, Texas, until Feb. 24. In order for the Jayhawks to enter that anticipated matchup in position for the outcome to play a factor in the 2018 title race, they will first have to get through Tuesday night’s game at Iowa State (6 p.m., ESPN2), and then back-to-back home games versus West Virginia and Oklahoma.

“We've still got the vast majority of things in front of us,” Self said. “Probably have as tough a schedule left as anybody in the league, so if we're going to do this, we've got to do it the hard way. But it'll mean more when it gets done if we're able to do it.” 

What’s left for Big 12’s top 3 teams

Texas Tech:

  • Tuesday vs. Oklahoma

  • Saturday at Baylor

  • Feb. 21 at Oklahoma State

  • Feb. 24 vs. Kansas

  • Feb. 26 at West Virginia

  • Match 3 vs. TCU

Kansas:

  • Tuesday at Iowa State

  • Saturday vs. West Virginia

  • Feb. 19 vs. Oklahoma

  • Feb. 24 at Texas Tech

  • Feb. 26 vs. Texas

  • March 3 at Oklahoma State

West Virginia:

  • Monday vs. TCU

  • Saturday at Kansas

  • Feb. 20 at Baylor

  • Feb. 24 vs. Iowa State

  • Feb. 26 vs. Texas Tech

  • March 3 at Texas


Big 12 standings (6 games remaining)

Texas Tech, 9-3

Kansas, 8-4

West Virginia, 7-5

Kansas State, 6-6

Oklahoma, 6-6

TCU, 5-7

Baylor, 5-7

Oklahoma State, 5-7

Texas, 5-7

Iowa State, 4-8


Reply 3 comments from Rockn_chalkn_ku Dannyboy4hawks Marius7782

Getting reacquainted with Texas Tech

First-year Texas Tech head coach Tubby Smith pleads with a game official during the first half on Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014 at United Spirit Arena in Lubbock, Texas.

First-year Texas Tech head coach Tubby Smith pleads with a game official during the first half on Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014 at United Spirit Arena in Lubbock, Texas. by Nick Krug

Tubby Smith's Texas Tech men's basketball team nearly had one of the upsets of the 2013-14 season on Feb. 18, at Lubbock, Texas.

That was before Kansas freshman Andrew Wiggins scored the winning basket of a 64-63 victory with just more than a second to go.

Both Wiggins and center Joel Embiid turned out to be fortunate freshmen in the final minute, and the Red Raiders lost their second game of what is now a five-game skid, entering tonight's rematch at Allen Fieldhouse vs. the No. 8 Jayhawks (22-7 overall, 13-3 Big 12).

Texas Tech (13-16) is just 5-11 in the Big 12, but as anyone who watched the Red Raiders nearly knock off KU could attest to, they are far more competitive this season under first-year coach Smith. In their 11 conference defeats, they've lost by an average margin of 7.4 points. Last season, Tech dropped 15 Big 12 games by an average of 21.4 points.

Tech does a few things well, and most of its success comes due to a commitment to playing at a methodical pace, which limits possessions and chances for its opponents. In Big 12 games, the Red Raiders are:

• 1st in scoring defense (68.1 points allowed)

• 1st in rebounding defense (opponents grab 29.0 a game)

• 2nd in 3-point field goal percentage (30.64%, percentage points behind Kansas State's 30.56%)

• 3rd in field goal percentage (44.4%)

• 4th in rebounding margin (+2.0)

While Tech is just 6th in Big 12 games in the category of offensive rebounds (11.0 a contest), the number is deceiving because the Red Raiders play at a slower pace, so there are fewer shots taken — and therefore fewer rebounds available — in their games than in those played between other Big 12 teams.

In conference games, 35.5% of Tech's 31.0 rebounds a game come on offense.

Against Kansas, the Red Raiders earned just more than half of their 25 rebounds on the offensive glass (13, compared to 12 defensive boards), leading to 14 second-chance points for Tech.

That glass work has helped Tech become one of the more prolific teams in the nation at scoring inside the 3-point line. The Red Raiders score 58.3 percent of their points on 2-point field goals — 18th in the country.

Just one Red Raider consistently takes and makes a high volume of 3-pointers, and he comes off the bench. On that note, let's get reacquainted with Texas Tech.

Jaye Crockett, No. 30

6-7, 210, sr. forward

Kansas guard Andrew Wiggins blocks a shot from Texas Tech forward Jaye Crockett late in the game on Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014 at United Spirit Arena in Lubbock, Texas.

Kansas guard Andrew Wiggins blocks a shot from Texas Tech forward Jaye Crockett late in the game on Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014 at United Spirit Arena in Lubbock, Texas. by Nick Krug

— Feb. 18 vs. KU: 10 points, 3/11 FGs, 2/3 3s, 2/3 FTs, 5 rebounds (3 offensive), 2 assists, 1 steal, 0 turnovers in 26 minutes.

A huge chunk of Tech's inside-the-arc offense comes from its leading scorer. Crockett averages 13.6 points and 6.3 rebounds, and has made 51.2% of his shots this season.

The senior forward will take some bombs from beyond the arc — 18-for-56, 32.1% — but he does much more damage inside of it. On 2-point shot attempts, he makes 55.6%.

However, Crockett's production has dropped off the past three games, as he has battled tendinitis in both knees.

Since scoring 10 against Kansas, he had six points in 26 minutes at Oklahoma State, 8 points in 32 minutes vs. Kansas State and 1 point in 18 minutes at Baylor.

Not a good sign.

Jordan Tolbert, No. 32

6-7, 225, jr. forward

Kansas players Joel Embiid and Jamari Traylor defend a shot from Texas Tech forward Jordan Tolbert during the second half on Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014 at United Spirit Arena in Lubbock, Texas.

Kansas players Joel Embiid and Jamari Traylor defend a shot from Texas Tech forward Jordan Tolbert during the second half on Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014 at United Spirit Arena in Lubbock, Texas. by Nick Krug

— Feb. 18 vs. KU: 16 points, 7/10 FGs, 0/1 3s, 2/2 FTs, 6 rebounds (4 offensive), 2 steals, 2 turnovers.

Now 20 points shy of 1,000 for his career, the junior averages 10.9 points and 6.0 rebounds this season. He has started five games against Kansas during between his freshman season and now, and averages 10.6 points against the Jayhawks.

Like Crockett, Tolbert scores efficiently inside the arc. A 55.6% shooter from the floor overall, he is one of the more experienced players in the Big 12 and has converted 60% of his 2-point attempts.

In his past two games, though, Crockett has made just three of his 12 field-goal attempts, and is averaging 7.5 points a game, scoring 66.6% of his points at the free-throw line.

Robert Turner, No. 14

6-3, 180, jr. guard

— Feb. 18 vs. KU: 11 points, 4/7 FGs, 1/2 3s, 2/2 FTs, 1 rebound, 2 assists, 2 steals, 3 turnovers.

A junior college transfer, Turner leads Tech with 77 assists this season.

He averages 9.6 points and 2.7 assists, and is tied for the second-most 3-pointers attempted on the team. From distance, Turner has hit 22 of his 72 tries (30.6%). In his last 12 Big 12 games, he has only hit more than one 3-pointer on one occasion. In that stretch, he is 7-for-26 (26.9).

Turner made 6 of 7 2-point attempts at Baylor his last time out, and is a 41.1% shooter overall this year.

His 40 steals lead Tech.

Toddrick Gotcher, No. 20

6-4, 200, so. guard

Texas Tech guard Toddrick Gotcher explodes after a three by the Red Raiders during the second half on Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014 at United Spirit Arena in Lubbock, Texas.

Texas Tech guard Toddrick Gotcher explodes after a three by the Red Raiders during the second half on Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014 at United Spirit Arena in Lubbock, Texas. by Nick Krug

— Feb. 18 vs. KU: 0 points, 0/0 FGs, 0/4 FTs, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 turnover in 21 minutes.

At different times this season, he has played all three positions on the perimeter, and averages 7.6 points, 3.0 rebounds and 2.0 assists.

Gotcher has averaged 9.0 points a game in his past three, since getting shut out vs. Kansas.

Like Turner, he has hoisted 72 3-pointers. Gotcher has found a little more success, making 24 (33.3%).

From the floor, he has made 40.5% of his field goal attempts.

Dejan Kravic, No. 11

7-0, 235, sr. forward

Texas Tech forward Dejan Kravic extends an arm in the face of a shot by Kansas guard Naadir Tharpe during the first half on Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014 at United Spirit Arena in Lubbock, Texas.

Texas Tech forward Dejan Kravic extends an arm in the face of a shot by Kansas guard Naadir Tharpe during the first half on Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014 at United Spirit Arena in Lubbock, Texas. by Nick Krug

— Feb. 18 vs. KU: 13 points, 6/8 FGs, 1/1 FTs, 3 rebounds, 4 fouls, 1 turnover in 23 minutes.

The big man, as you might assume, basically lives inside the arc offensively. He has only tried a pair of 3-pointers this season. His field-goal percentage is 49.7% for the year and 51.7% in Big 12 action.

Kravic averages 7.0 points and 4.3 rebounds on the season.

His 37 blocked shots lead the Red Raiders.

Texas Tech bench

Dusty Hannahs, No. 2

6-4, 210, so. guard

Kansas guard Conner Frankamp heads out of bounds as Texas Tech guard Dusty Hannahs tries to save the ball during the first half on Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014 at United Spirit Arena in Lubbock, Texas.

Kansas guard Conner Frankamp heads out of bounds as Texas Tech guard Dusty Hannahs tries to save the ball during the first half on Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014 at United Spirit Arena in Lubbock, Texas. by Nick Krug

— Feb. 18 vs. KU: 10 points, 3/9 FGs, 2/5 3s, 2/2 FTs, 4 rebounds (2 offensive), 2 assists, 1 steal, 1 turnover in 30 minutes.

The backup guard is Tech's gunner. He has hit 40 of 104 3-pointers on the season (38.5%), while making 25 of 61 in Big 12 games (41%).

Hannahs averages 8.3 points a game, and as a 91.8% free-throw shooter is on pace to be Tech's all-time single-season leader in that category. He averages 2.1 free-throw makes a game in 22.5 minutes this season. In Big 12 play, he had nailed 33 of 35 (94.3%).

Box score: Kansas 64, Texas Tech 63

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The Day After: Texas Tech

Kansas players mob Andrew Wiggins after Wiggins' last-second bucket lifted the Jayhawks over Texas Tech, 64-63 on Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014 at United Spirit Arena in Lubbock, Texas.

Kansas players mob Andrew Wiggins after Wiggins' last-second bucket lifted the Jayhawks over Texas Tech, 64-63 on Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014 at United Spirit Arena in Lubbock, Texas. by Nick Krug

Apparently it's better to be elite than perfect.

With two of the most talented freshmen in the nation wearing Kansas University basketball uniforms, even crunch-time blunders from Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid turned into gold for the Jayhawks Tuesday night, as they escaped Lubbock, Texas, with a 64-63 victory over Texas Tech.

No. 8 KU (20-6 overall, 11-2 Big 12) didn't play awful at United Spirit Arena, home of the Red Raiders (13-13, 5-8), but the outcome might have flipped had center Embiid not had guard Wiggins' back — and vice versa — in the final minute.

Returning to the Kansas lineup after sitting out a game with an ailing back and knee, Embiid's final two points on an 18-point night came on his third offensive rebound, when he jammed in a missed dunk by Wiggins with just more than 30 seconds left in the second half.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B33acfXed6U

Wiggins had pulled off a similar baseline drive and slam earlier in the night, but he hesitated for a split-second when TT big man Dejan Kravic slid over as a help defender. That threw Wiggins' timing off just enough that his dunk attempt hit the rim. But the 6-foot-8 guard's drive drew so much attention, Embiid had no problem gathering the mistake and stuffing it home to finish 6-for-7 from the floor.

After Texas Tech's Robert Turner hit two bonus free throws to put KU in a one-point deficit, Kansas had to get a basket to avoid its third conference loss. Embiid received the ball on the right block, and as he spun toward the baseline, he lost his handle. Wouldn't you know it, Wiggins was there to grab the loose ball and lay it in for the win, and finish with 19 points on 6-for-11 shooting.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hc-SPqh0kXY

A couple of unlikely and remarkable plays end up making the difference, offensively, in the final minute of a game controlled by Texas Tech from a pace standpoint — KU's 42 field-goal attempts were its second-lowest total of the season (Baylor held the Jayhawks to 40 attempts on Jan. 20).

Quick takeaway:

Kansas was obviously the more talented team, and like it or not, that's how a lot of college basketball games are decided when the disparity is drastic between two rosters. Texas Tech coach Tubby Smith, who knows the game as well as anyone, had a terrific game plan and his players executed it to near perfection. In the end, it simply wasn't enough.

“Good teams like Kansas make plays like that. Great players make plays like that," Smith said. "Andrew’s a great player and great players make plays like that.“

You won't hear Kansas coach Bill Self complaining about his team winning in a tough situation on the road, but he surely will let his players know the kind of effort they gave late in the first half and through chunks of the second half, when Texas Tech was in control, won't win them many games in the postseason, which is now less than a month away.

Three reasons to smile:

Kansas guard Andrew Wiggins blocks a shot from Texas Tech forward Jaye Crockett late in the game on Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014 at United Spirit Arena in Lubbock, Texas.

Kansas guard Andrew Wiggins blocks a shot from Texas Tech forward Jaye Crockett late in the game on Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014 at United Spirit Arena in Lubbock, Texas. by Nick Krug

1 — The Red Raiders easily could have won this game. "Wait, why am I smiling about this?" you may ask. Well, the Jayhawks didn't let them win. With a coach of Smith's caliber, in a packed house full of hostile fans and with Tech players likely believing a victory over KU could get them out of relative irrelevancy and one step closer to an NCAA Tournament berth, Kansas denied the Red Raiders the résumé-building victory they so desperately needed.

And despite the game-winner Wiggins converted on offense, his defensive stand seconds earlier had as much to do with the KU win. Texas Tech only turned the ball over nine times, hit 47% of its shot attempts and 6 of 12 from three-point range, but KU's defense came through in the final minute (with the exception of Embiid getting whistled for a blocking foul on Turner with 16 seconds left).

On Tech's previous last-minute possession, Wiggins blocked a Jaye Crockett jumper with the shot clock winding down, and when the denial fell back in Crockett's lap, Wiggins contested another jumper. The long rebound went to Tech's Jordan Tolbert, but Kansas forced a held ball, with the possession arrow in its favor.

2 — The real Joel Embiid is back. That evil twin of Embiid's — the one whose back and/or knee issues limited his range of motion and kept him to 7.5 points in his past four appearances — that guy is gone.

The real Embiid looked comfortable running the floor, and making assertive moves in the post. He finished with 18 points, 8 rebounds and a block, but the most promising number for KU is that he played 32 minutes. As Self talked about after the win, the 7-footer hadn't even practiced that much in the past week. Embiid said he felt like he was at about 90 percent.

So, barring any more injury setbacks, this is the kind of performance the Jayhawks can expect out of their center from Cameroon going forward.

3 — These young Jayhawks have confidence. Any time a team can pull off a last-second win, it gives the players an experience they can draw from in the future. The next time Kansas finds itself down a possession in the final minutes, Self can say, "Hey, remember how we finished strong at Texas Tech, and Jo Jo and Wiggs made those clutch plays? That's the mentality it's going to take to win this one."

What's more, the Jayhawks didn't let their struggles at Tech hold them back in the final minutes. Freshman guard Wayne Selden hadn't scored in the second half, and had only made 1 of 7 shots on the night when he rose up to drain a critical thee-pointer with less than three minutes to play.

Even when the Jayhawks are down, they believe they will win a close game.

Three reasons to sigh:

Kansas center Joel Embiid battles for position against Texas Tech forward Kader Tapsoba during the second half on Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014 at United Spirit Arena in Lubbock, Texas.

Kansas center Joel Embiid battles for position against Texas Tech forward Kader Tapsoba during the second half on Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014 at United Spirit Arena in Lubbock, Texas. by Nick Krug

1 — Although Embiid returned, Texas Tech beat Kansas in points in the paint, 30-24. Embiid's defense might not have caught up with his offense quite yet, and Kansas only blocked three shots (one for Embiid, two for Wiggins). That total, though, isn't as troubling as how easily Tech scored inside at times. Defensive breakdowns led to open dunks/layups. Kravic, a senior 7-footer only averaging 6.4 points a game — scored 13 on 6 of 8 shooting.

Part of Tech's success inside came with its 13 offensive rebounds. KU had 13, too, and out-rebounded TT, 28-26, overall. But the Red Raiders scored 19 second-chance points, compared to KU's 14.

2 — Perry Ellis didn't make a shot, and barely made an impact. After a career game against TCU on Saturday, the sophomore forward contributed to Kansas losing the points in the paint battle. Ellis missed all three of his shot attempts, found himself in foul trouble and was the only Kansas starter to not play 30-plus minutes (he played 26). All four of his points came at the free-throw line and he only secured two rebounds.

Hardly the only culprit for KU, Ellis was one of five Jayhawks to play at least 10 minutes but not produce more than six points as Wiggins and Embiid carried the load. Selden and Naadir Tharpe each scored six, Jamari Traylor had five in 12 minutes and Tarik Black scored four in 10 minutes.

Between Ellis, Selden and Tharpe, they combined to hit 3 of 18 field goals.

3 — Texas Tech made 47% of its shots. Since Self arrived at Kansas, his teams have won so often because of defense. In eight of Self's previous 10 seasons at KU, his teams have led the Big 12 in field-goal percentage defense. Currently, the Jayhawks are fifth in that category, at 41.2%.

Six of KU's last eight opponents have made 42% of their shots or better. For the Jayhawks to truly be considered one of the nation's top teams this season, they just need to turn it up a notch on the defensive end, and force foes into more difficult attempts.

One thought for the road:

There is no shame in winning ugly. Especially on the road. Even though Kansas had season-lows in rebounds (28) and assists (six), the Jayhawks managed to win. The ongoing struggle for this team seems to be getting everyone to produce to his fullest (or in that neighborhood) each and every game. A lot of that has to do with the team's youth. Consistency is the most difficult thing to grasp for most teams. Because KU starts three freshmen and a sophomore, that is inherently more challenging. If junior point guard Tharpe (1 of 7 shooting, 2 assists, 4 turnovers at TT) can set the tone in that department, the rest of the team likely will follow his lead.

Next up:

Thanks to Iowa State's 85-76 win over Texas on Tuesday in Ames, Iowa, the Longhorns enter Saturday's 6:30 p.m. game at Allen Fieldhouse two games behind Kansas in the Big 12 standings. A win for the Jayhawks would avenge their road loss to UT and put them even closer to a 10th straight Big 12 championship.

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Getting to know Texas Tech

Texas Tech's mascot Raider Red welcomes Tubby Smith to the stage before Smith was introduced as the new men's basketball coach at Texas Tech during an NCAA college news conference in Lubbock, Texas, Tuesday, April 2, 2013.  (AP Photo/Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, Stephen Spillman)

Texas Tech's mascot Raider Red welcomes Tubby Smith to the stage before Smith was introduced as the new men's basketball coach at Texas Tech during an NCAA college news conference in Lubbock, Texas, Tuesday, April 2, 2013. (AP Photo/Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, Stephen Spillman) by Stephen Spillman

It had to happen sooner or later.

From the day Texas Tech announced the hiring of Tubby Smith as its new men's basketball coach (as celebrated in the amazing photo above), you had to figure it was only a matter of time before he began turning the program around.

As a head coach, Smith has taken Minnesota to the NCAA Tournament, Tulsa and Georgia to the Sweet 16 and Kentucky all the way to a national championship in 1998. He is one of seven active coaches to win 500 games and a national championship.

The man can coach — even at a program as downtrodden as Texas Tech has been the past few seasons.

The Red Raiders:

  • haven't won six Big 12 games in a season since 2008

  • haven't won three straight conference home games since 2010

  • haven't won 14 games in a season since 2010

  • currently have their highest RPI ranking (103rd) since finishing the 2009-10 season 66th

It took some time for the players to adjust to their new coach, but Texas Tech (13-12 overall, 5-7 Big 12) has won three of its last four games heading into its Tuesday night date with No. 8 Kansas (19-6, 10-2) at United Spirit Arena.

The Raiders' conference victories to date are: vs. Baylor, at TCU, vs. TCU, vs. Oklahoma State and at Oklahoma.

They had won three in a row before playing at Hilton Coliseum on Saturday. And they even hung around until the final minutes in a 70-64 road loss to Iowa State.

The Red Raiders, who are above .500 through 25 games for the first time since the 2009-10 season, fared even better at Oklahoma last week. Tech won, 68-60, in part, by holding the Sooners to 6-for-27 shooting from 3-point range.

Here are the Tech highlights from what was just their second road win of the season:

Obviously, the Red Raiders (tied for 7th out of 10 teams in the league standings) aren't a squad that many would fear, but they do some things well.

In Big 12 play, Texas Tech:

  • holds opponents to 68.5 points a game (first in the Big 12)

  • hits 74.9% of its free throws (second in the league to Oklahoma's 76.3%)

  • limits foes to 31.3% 3-point shooting (second to Kansas State's 30.8%)

  • comes up with 11.3 offensive rebounds a game (fourth)

Let's meet the players Kansas has to worry about as the Jayhawks try to give KU its ninth straight win against Texas Tech and its fourth straight victory in Lubbock, Texas.

Jaye Crockett, No. 30

6-7, 210, sr. forward

Smith plays Crockett at small forward to form a big lineup that can create matchup problems for some teams — but Kansas should not fall into that category with a frontcourt of Joel Embiid, Perry Ellis and Andrew Wiggins.

Crockett averages 14.8 points and 6.7 rebounds this season, and had a career-high 23 points at Iowa State on Saturday.

In Big 12 play, he averages 16.1 points and 7.3 rebounds (2.2 offensive rebounds), hits 49.3% of his shots and makes 85.7% at the foul line (second in the Big 12 to Eron Harris's 95.8%). He's currently on a free-throw streak of 16 straight makes — the longest of his career.

Including the non-conference, he is shooting 53.8% from the floor.

Jordan Tolbert, No. 32

6-7, 225, jr. forward

Kansas center Jeff Withey waits for an inbound pass as he is covered by Texas Tech forward Jordan Tolbert during the first half, Monday, March 4, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas center Jeff Withey waits for an inbound pass as he is covered by Texas Tech forward Jordan Tolbert during the first half, Monday, March 4, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Closing in on career numbers of 1,000 points and 500 rebounds in his third year with the program, Tolbert averages 10.8 points and 5.8 rebounds a game this season.

A 56.5% free-throw shooter as a sophomore, Tolbert has made far better use of his time at the charity stripe in 2013-14, hitting 74% with 73 attempts.

His 50 offensive rebounds (2.0 a game) put him slightly behind Crockett for the team lead.

Robert Turner, No. 14

6-3, 180, jr. guard

Smith's first signee when he took over last spring, Turner (a junior college transfer) has been one of the most successful thieves in the Big 12 this year, averaging 1.67 steals a game against conference opponents.

His 2.8 assists average leads Tech, and he scores 9.7 points a game.

Turner had 16 points and 5 assists in the Red Raiders' win at Oklahoma.

Though he has hoisted 65 3-pointers — second-most on the team — he has only made 29.2%.

Toddrick Gotcher, No. 20

6-4, 200, so. guard

A do-it-all type of player, Gotcher has handled point guard, shooting guard and small forward responsibilities at various times this season, while averaging 7.7 points and 3.0 rebounds.

In his most recent effort, Gotcher put up 14 points and pulled down 6 boards on Saturday in a six-point loss at Iowa State.

Gotcher's 20 three-point makes are second on the Tech roster, but he only hits 32.3% from deep.

Dejan Kravic, No. 11

7-0, 235, sr. forward

Texas Tech forward Dejan Kravic (11) celebrates with teammates after making the game-winning basket during an NCAA college basketball game against West Virginia in the Big 12 men's tournament Wednesday, March 13, 2013, in Kansas City, Mo. Texas Tech won 71-69.

Texas Tech forward Dejan Kravic (11) celebrates with teammates after making the game-winning basket during an NCAA college basketball game against West Virginia in the Big 12 men's tournament Wednesday, March 13, 2013, in Kansas City, Mo. Texas Tech won 71-69.

The 7-footer doesn't exactly dominate — 6.4 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.2 blocks this season — but he has done slightly better in three career games against Kansas: 9.7 points and 5.0 rebounds (but only 0.3 blocks).

In six of his last seven games he hasn't scored more than six points. In his one productive contest, he had 18 against TCU.

After the Raiders beat the Horned Frogs on Feb. 1, Kravic talked a little about how the team's big men work together.

Texas Tech bench

Dusty Hannahs, No. 2

6-4, 210, so. guard

Actually named after longtime baseball manager Dusty Baker, Hannahs plays 22.6 minutes a game off the bench. What he brings to the floor is a legitimate 3-point shooting threat.

The sophomore attempts 3.8 three-pointers a game, has made 37 from deep this season and has converted 39.4% of his 94 tries.

Hannahs averages 8.8 points and 1.4 assists on the season, compared to 10.8 points and 1.8 assists an outing in Big 12 games.

Reply 7 comments from Benton Smith Baldjedi Oklahawk58 Raprichard Cameron Cederlind Stu Van Gorp