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Tech looks to build on hot start against defending Big 12 champs

Red Raiders look to start 2-0 in Big 12 play against a skilled Kansas team

NCAA Basketball: Baylor at Texas Tech Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

The No. 18 Texas Tech Red Raiders will next face the No. 10 Kansas Jayhawks at Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence, KS, on Tuesday night.

This will be a battle of ranked opponents as both the Jayhawks and Red Raiders have had impressive seasons so far. Both of these teams are competing for a Big 12 title, and this game could potentially provide a leg up in deciding a champion down the road. The Red Raiders will be looking to break a 16-game losing streak to the Jayhawks, as their last win came in 2010. The Red Raiders also are trying to win their first game all-time at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas is a very talented team,as always, with many gifted athletes. This year has been shrouded in the mystery of what could be for Kansas as so far as five-star forward Billy Preston has been suspended for the majority of this year. Without the big man's presence inside, the Jayhawks have had to play small ball, since they only have one other forward/center type like Preston.

The Jayhawks only play seven guys, but they are all more than capable players. Rumors are that freshman Marcus Garrett is going to get the start for Malik Newman against Texas Tech. Newman played well off the bench against Texas, scoring 13 points and 5 rebounds in 29 minutes of play. It seems like Kansas will play four guards on the floor at all times, as three of their guards played more than 35 minutes in the win against Texas last Friday. This is one place where the Red Raiders can exploit the Jayhawks. The Red Raiders demolished the Baylor Bears last Friday night by 24 points off of their depth. If the Red Raider bench can do what it has been all year, the Red Raiders will have a great chance to win this game.

Offensively, Kansas will play a four-out, one-in set that makes them difficult to guard. They put their center, usually Udoka Azubuike, on the block and try to feed him the ball. He follows the ball and is always looking to get position down low. Their four guards are often setting screens for each other and making good, disciplined passes. Another thing to note in their offense is when two guards make a dribble hand-off, the guard that gets the hand-off more times than not shoots a three-pointer. This quick trigger makes them so hard to beat as they can rain in three after three. They had 17 against Texas and is averaging 11 per game. Tech will have to do a great job defending the perimeter if they are to have a good chance winning this game.

Devonte’ Graham is the Jawhawks’ best player. He averages 17 points and seven assists per game. He’ll run the offense and dish out many of the assists in the flow of their offense. He along with Lagerald Vick and Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk will take the vast majority of their three pointers. All three of these guys are amazing three-point shooters as they all shoot over 45 percent from behind the arc.

Defensively, the Jayhawks play man and zone, based on their personnel. If they have one of their big men on the floor, they usually play a man defense. They trap on screens and this causes lots of problems for teams. Kansas is really good at ‘scramble’ defense. This kind of defense causes everyone to see ball and all of the offensive players. I personally think the Jayhawks will play more zone defense against Texas Tech to try to limit the amount of drives into the paint the Red Raiders get.

Injury-wise, it seems as though Zach Smith will play against the Jayhawks. Smith rolled his ankle against the Baylor Bears and only played 4 minutes. He was seen in the second half riding a stationary bike and didn’t play. I think this was due to the blowout game that occurred in Lubbock on Friday night.

Keys to the Game

1. Rebounding

In Kansas’s last game against Texas, the Jayhawks allowed 18 offensive rebounds. This is a staggering number and should be used as an advantage. If the Red Raiders can continue to rebound like they have and use the Jayhawks lack of size as an advantage, the Red Raiders will be better off for it.

2. Perimeter Game

Kansas shot 35 three-pointers against Texas and made 17. The Jayhawks are the best shooting team the Red Raiders have faced this season and the Red Raiders are not one of the best perimeter defense teams in the Big 12. The Red Raiders will have to step up if they are to have any chance at keeping up with the pace the Jayhawks play with.

3. Drive the Rock

The Jayhawks are not a very deep team. They only play seven on a regular basis and only play six of those over 15 minutes. If the Red Raiders can drive the rock with their plethora of guards, maybe the Jayhawks will get into foul trouble, like Baylor did. Keenan Evans and Zhaire Smith will have to lead the way in this category as they have been leading the team in free throw attempts and makes this season.

The Red Raiders have their work cut out for them tonight in Lawrence. The Jayhawks are a great team and Texas Tech will need all of their 10 rotation players to play great games to beat Kansas. If the Red Raiders can get the Jayhawks into foul trouble, look for the Red Raiders to have a great chance at winning this one.