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Preview: Texas Tech Red Raiders vs. Kansas Jayhawks

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A huge preview as Texas Tech travels to Lawrence to take on the Kansas Jayhawks. We've got starting lineups, a Q&A with Rock Chalk Talk and a preview to the game.

Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Game Details:

Date: Saturday, January 10th
Time: 2:00 pm
Good Guys: Texas Tech Red Raiders (10-5, 0-2)
Bad Guys: Kansas Jayhawks (12-2, 1-0)
Location: Allen Fieldhouse | Lawrence, KS
TV/Stream: ESPNU
Radio/Stream: Broadcast Affiliates and TuneIn App

Probable Starting Lineup

Pts/Reb Pts / Reb
POINT GUARD Robert Turner (6-3/190) 8.9 / 1.9* Frank Mason (5-11/185) 12.3 / 4.3*
SHOOTING GUARD Devaugntah Williams (6-4/205) 11.7 / 3.4 Wayne Selden, Jr. (6-5/230) 9.3 / 3.0
SMALL FORWARD Toddrick Gotcher (6-4/200) 6.8 / 2.6 Kelly Oubre, Jr. (6-7/200) 7.0 / 4.2
POWER FORWARD Zach Smith (6-8/205) 5.2 / 4.7 Jamari Traylor (6-8/220) 5.7 / 4.5
CENTER Norense Odiase (6-9/270) 8.0 / 5.1 Perry Ellis (6-8/225) 12.4 / 6.4

* Assists.

Q&A with Rock Chalk Talk

Hey! I had time to do a Q&A with misterbrain over at Rock Chalk Talk, my answers are here and I've got his answers below.

1. The hallmark of Kansas basketball has always been a top 10 defense and this year, the defense has struggled a bit, ranking 46th in AdjD via KenPom. What's the reason for that and do you think we'll see that vaunted KU defense by the end of the year?

Well first of all, there just isn't the strong rim protector on this team that we are used to seeing. I've been holding out hope that Arkansas transfer Hunter Mickelson could work his way into the rotation and be that guy, but I think it's about time to let that hope ride off into the sunset, to maybe return next year.

As for what we see this year? Well that is a really good question. What we've seen is inconsistent play from pretty much everyone as Perry Ellis has been struggling and Frank Mason has been straight ballin'. Devonte Graham was one of our better defenders, but he is out indefinitely with a toe injury. Essentially, the talent is there to have a good defense, but consistency is an issue. As such, I really have no idea what to expect at the end of the year.

2. Kansas is allmost always a young team, but there are some really solid sophomores returning in Frank Mason, Wayne Seldon, Jr., and Perry Ellis. Do you think that having some more veteran players on the team will eventually begin to lift up the play of the freshmen?

Actually, Ellis (as well as Jamari Traylor) is a junior, but the point still remains. This is a much younger team than usual though, as we don't have any seniors that contribute and Ellis and Traylor are the only juniors that regularly see the floor. I'm not sure that the sophomores have really helped provide too much of a veteran presence, as they still make way too many mistakes that can be traced to just being young and inexperienced. I expect pretty much everyone on the roster to continue to improve with the experience that they gain, but I'm not sure how much veteran leadership these guys are going to be able to give to the freshmen.

3. Self mentioned earlier this week that he needs for some of the guys to step up their play. Who do you think needs to improve their game to make another title run.

Can I say everyone? Actually, Mason has been doing really well, and Kelly Oubre has come on really strong recently. But everyone else has a lot of room to improve. Traylor has started to show how he can take over a game last time out at Baylor, but I need to see it more to believe it's there for good. Cliff Alexander has shown the ability to take over a game, but it's only for brief flashes. Ellis needs to find his stroke on the mid-range jumper, and Greene needs to figure out how to stop stepping out of bounds when he is out on the wing.

Basically, everyone has areas that need to improve to become more consistent. There are too many good teams in the Big 12 for so many players to have so many lapses and the team stay in the title race.

4. This is probably a ridiculous question, but do you all ever long for the day when you could have the players stick around for 3 years so you get the chance to know them and watch them grow as players? Of course, you take winning game and playing for national championships over anything.

When the one-and-done rule started, everyone was up in arms about how kids were going to flock to the NBA after teasing everyone with a single year of college, and you were going to end up with lots of mercenary-type programs that had a huge amount of turnover. That just hasn't happened, as there are many players with eyes on being a one-and-done that have found the college game to be challenging enough that they don't shine like they expected to.

What I think that rule did though was create the expectation that players will leave early from school. Before, the players that thought they were ready for the NBA would go right out of high school, and only the few breakout players would jump from the college ranks every year. College programs pretty much followed the baseball model in that players would be there for 2 or 3 years and then weigh their options. Since everyone is going to college now, the expectation is that everyone will evaluate NBA chances after the season, and if you jump, it's no big deal.

While I think this is great for the kids, and we still get plenty of chances to see some develop when they don't get to jump as early as they thought they would, we have really missed out on the large senior classes that used to come around frequently. I long for the days when half the starting rotation are seniors that we have gotten to know, and Senior night has speeches from 4 or 5 guys that shared the last 4 years of their life with the team and fans. Two years ago when Jeff Withey, Kevin Young, Travis Releford and Elijah Johnson all graduated, it was a truly magical experience to watch all these seniors, and Senior Night was one of the best I've ever seen.

Don't get me wrong, I love winning, and if OADs are the way to do it, then no question we bring them in. But I do think Senior Night speeches are really special, and there are a lot of players that I wish would have had the opportunity to give one that didn't.

5. For those of us that follow Texas Tech basketball (yes, there are some loyal Texas Tech basketball fans) what's the perception of the program and Tubby Smith? For reference purposes, we all know the situation that Smith inherited and we also understand that a young team is going to struggle this year, but we all tend to think that if the five freshmen can stick together then there's a good chance that Texas Tech can be a decent team in a year (NIT sort of team) and a pretty good team in two years (NCAA Tournament sort of team).

Unfortunately, Texas Tech is not a school that you think of when you think basketball, and they haven't really done anything that I can remember since joining the Big 12. Hiring Bob Knight seemed to be nothing but a publicity stunt that didn't really work, especially when Pat Knight succeeded him out of what reeked of nepotism. Billy Gillespie didn't really do much either. I think that Tubby Smith has always in mind been a solid coach who got the shaft at Kentucky (but then again, it IS Kentucky) and kept the Minnesota program respectable for many years, and I'm hoping that he can get Texas Tech at least to that same level.

Hopefully things get better for you guys, and while this year is going to be rough, I think TCU has shown that the right bounces can help overcome even the most dire circumstances in what is the toughest conference in the nation.

Three Keys to the Game:

1. Scouting the Jayhawks. I'm probably not the guy to ask, but it just seems as if Kansas isn't the Kansas that we know. There's no Andrew Wiggins type of super-star type, although Cliff Alexander is slated to be a first round draft pick. There are old men that are leading the Jayhawks, Mason and Selden are sophomores and Ellis and Traylor are juniors, old men by Kansas terms. Personally, I think this is a good thing, but it also speaks that maybe some of these players didn't advance as quickly as they would have hoped. Still, you're talking about plus athletes on the front line and they really are athletic and can jump, while the guards aren't maybe household names, they can get it done. Mashon is shooting 48% from the three-point line and Seldon is shooting 35%, while Oubre is shooting 43%. So yeah, Kansas is big and they can shoot the rock as well. One other name to watch that didn't get included is Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (6-8/195). Mykhailuk is a shooting guard type from Europe that is still adjusting to the game, but he's got a ton of talent.

2. Stats. Kansas has similar stats ot Texas Tech, they've just done it against significantly better competition, as they are #1 in strength of schedule.

KenPom has Kansas as the #16 team overall, 16th in AdjO and 42nd in AdjD, while Texas Tech has slipped quite a bit, 151st overall, 233rd in AdjO and 93rd in AdjD. This is the meat-grinder that is the Big 12 season.

*AdjO and AdjD via KenPom.

3. Matching Up. Kansas is a match-up nightmare for Texas Tech because they start Oubre at small forward and he's a load. I thnk this might be a game where Gotcher gets the call, but Texas Tech is going to need to be able to go bigger to help rebound. I keep thinking that Aaron Ross could be that guy, or maybe Alex Foster, someone that can give you some minutes at the three position that can also help rebound, but both Ross and Foster are limited defensively. Ross seems like the better choice because of how he can stretch the floor offensively.

Video

Head coach Tubby Smith and Toddrick Gotcher discuss today's game.