After opening Big 12 play with back-to-back wins at Allen Fieldhouse, the No. 1-ranked Kansas Jayhawks (13-1 overall, 2-0 Big 12) play their first conference road game at Texas Tech (11-2, 1-1).
Now five days removed from an all-time great regular-season win, the No. 1-ranked Jayhawks don’t want to suffer a letdown at Texas Tech as they chase a 12th straight Big 12 title.
Coach Bill Self said earlier this week it probably helped that the Red Raiders played so well in a loss at Iowa State.
“I think they certainly got our players' respect,” Self said.
Despite only playing 15 minutes in the KU-OU triple-overtime thriller, senior backup forward Jamari Traylor made his presence felt with 6 points, 4 rebounds and 3 blocks.
Self has shown he will turn to the 6-foot-8 senior for energy.
“Well, that's what he does as much as anybody. I thought Jamari played great. Those two defensive plays he had in the second half were fabulous,” Self said. “Certainly, he even kind of was an offensive spark for us to start the second half when nobody else was very good.”
Texas Tech really has defended the 3-point line well this year: 30.6% shooting from downtown for Red Raiders opponents.
Here are KU’s best options to skew that stat in the other direction:
- Wayne Selden: 39 of 72 from 3-point land (54.2%)
- Brannen Greene: 15 of 24 (62.5%)
- Devonté Graham: 25 of 53 (43.4%)
- Perry Ellis: 11 of 21 (52.4%)
- Frank Mason: 14 of 36 (38.9%)
- Svi Mykhailiuk: 16 of 45 (35.6%)
Tonight is just Part 1 of a 2-game road trip for KU that concludes Tuesday night at No. 17 West Virginia.
“Everybody goes through tough scheduling deals,” Self said. “But I don't look at it. We caught a break this week because the manner in which Monday's game was played, we at least got some time to rest before the next game. I would call that a break.”
KU senior center Hunter Mickelson has been hit and miss in his 7 straight starts. Sometimes Self relies on him, sometimes he kind of forgets about the 6-10 big man who started his career at Arkansas.
Monday vs. OU, Mickelson started the game, made a baseline jumper early, but only played 9 minutes and had 3 rebounds and 2 points.
Two days earlier, he played 17 minutes, blocked 3 shots and pulled down 6 boards to go with 7 points vs. Baylor. Which will it be tonight at Texas Tech?
How about Texas and Iowa State already having 2 Big 12 losses 3 games into league play? Injuries obviously an issue for both, but still surprising.
ESPNU says about 5 minutes til tip-off.
I might be crazy, but I actually think KU is going to win this one fairly easily. Tech isn't really great at any one thing, particularly on defense. If the Red Raiders forced more turnovers or blocked more shots, I might think TT had more of a chance. But I'm thinking Kansas wins, let's say 84-69.
KU opens the game on defense and gets a stop with a wild TT miss on a layup attempt. Mickelson hits a jumper on the other end for an early KU lead.
Gotcher makes a tough shot in the paint that was contested by Mickelson.