NCAA Basketball: Kansas/Texas Tech Preview

by Big Al Staff

The Thursday night game on ESPN is a heavyweight Big 12 battle between Kansas and Texas Tech, who are ranked 5th and 14th in this week’s Associated Press poll.

Kansas lost their opening game of the season against number-one ranked Gonzaga by a 102-90 score. The Jayhawks have since rattled off six straight victories, including signature non-conference wins against Kentucky and Creighton. Kansas last played on Friday when they hammered Nebraska-Omaha by a 95-50 score as a 29.5-point favorite.

Bill Self was on track to leading his team to a number one seed in the NCAA Tournament last March before the COVID shutdown. That team finished with a 28-3 record, but the Jayhawks lost their top two players from that group in Devon Dotson and Udoka Azubuike. Kansas still has three starters back along with a few reserves that have been bolstered by another strong freshman class led by five-star prospect Bryce Thompson who takes over for Dotson at point guard.

The defense was the hallmark of last year's team as they were ranked second in adjusted efficiency according to kenpom. The Jayhawks go into this game ranked sixth in the nation by kenpom in adjusted defensive efficiency. Redshirt freshman Jalen Wilson leads the team with a 15.3 points-per-game scoring average while adding 8.7 rebounds-per-game. Junior guard Ochai Agbaji is scoring 14.1 points-per-game average and making 45.9% of his shots from 3-point range.

Texas Tech has won four games in a row with their 77-57 victory over Texas A&M Corpus Christi on Saturday. That win raised the Red Raiders’ record to a 6-1 mark, with their lone loss being a 64-53 setback against Houston. This group has quickly gelled into another typical Chris Beard team in his fifth year with the program as they lead the nation in kenpom’s adjusted defensive efficiency metric.

After losing in the national championship game two seasons ago, Beard’s team took a step back last year with an 18-13 record. The Red Raiders have more production returning this year than they did after their superb 2018-19 season, including two starters in Kyler Edwards and Terrance Shannon that appear ready for breakout seasons. Edwards leads the team with 25 assists while contributing 11.3 points-per-game. Shannon is scoring 11.8 points-per-game and pulling down 4.87 rebounds-per-game.

Beard also brought in a top-ten recruiting class along with four transfers. Mac McClung from Georgetown leads the team with a 14.1 points-per-game scoring average. Marcus Santo-Silva, a graduate transfer forward from VCU, has added 8.1 points-per-game along with 7.6 rebounds-per-game.

The Red Raiders' have not been tested this season outside their loss to the Cougars. Texas Tech's most competitive victory was a 51-44 triumph over Abilene Christian as a 15-point favorite.

Kansas won six of the last eight meetings between these two teams, with their most recent encounter being on March 7th when the Jayhawks won by a 66-62 score as a 3-point favorite. BetAnySports lists Texas Tech as a 3-point favorite with the total set at 135. Tipoff is at 7 PM ET.

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

© 2021 Al McMordie's BigAl.com. All Rights Reserved.