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No. 18 Texas Tech looks to maintain momentum against Kansas State

The Red Raiders look to win their eighth in a row and go 3-0 in Big 12 play.

The Big 12 conference schedule continues for No. 18 Texas Tech (13-1, 2-0) on Saturday as they host Kansas State (11-3, 1-1) at the United Supermarkets Arena for a 3:00 p.m. tip.

Texas Tech is fresh off a big upset win over Kansas on the road. It’s thought by many to be the biggest win in the history of the program. Certainly the biggest win over the last decade especially given the fact Tech has never won in Phog Allen Fieldhouse.

Okay, all that is over now. This is the Big 12 and there’s no such thing as a “relax” game. Kansas State will be all but a pushover. As you can see, the two teams are pretty evenly matched yet Tech holds slight advantages in every category.

Kansas State

The Wildcats are led by sixth year head coach Bruce Weber and are 11-3 on the season. Their three losses have come at the hands of Arizona State, Tulsa, and West Virginia.

On the court, they are led by the three headed monster combo of 6’3” junior guard Barry Brown, Jr., 6’10” junior forward Dean Wade, and 6’0” junior guard Kaman Stokes. Those three players each average about 14 points per game and 31 minutes per game.

In Big 12 play the three are averaging about 36 minutes per game as coach Weber seems to be relying on the trio more now than earlier in the season. The player I’m particularly interested in is the big junior forward Dean Wade.

Wade leads the team in rebounds at almost seven per game and he is a shooter, which is why the graphic features him shooting. He is second on the team in field goal percentage at 60 percent, which includes shooting a team leading 45 percent from three.

In the two games against Big 12 opponents, Wade went off for 34 points in 38 minutes against Iowa State and 17 points in 38 minutes against West Virginia. Against Iowa State he was a blistering 13-16 from inside the arc and 6-8 from three range. That’s a blistering overall percentage of 79 percent.

The “problem” he had against West Virginia was the very limited number of shots he took. He was 5-8 from the field and 7-9 from the free throw line. No, I didn’t forget the three point shots. He didn’t take any. Zero.

The one problem area for Wade is free throw shooting. It seems to be the problem of many basketball teams but that was another story. Wade only shoots 67 percent from the free throw line which is shocking considering he shoots so well from the field.

Rounding out the starting five are 6’5” sophomore forward Xavier Sneed and 6’9” sophomore forward Makol Mawien. Sneed averages 12 points and 27 minutes per game. He is also second on the team in rebounds with four per game. Mawien is averaging six points in 17 minutes per game while leading the team in field goal percentage at 71 percent.

Those guys are your five starters. The other guys are nice piece players with only three averaging double digit minutes per game and none more than 16 minutes.

It goes without saying that this will be a very well coached, disciplined team that won’t make many unforced errors. Tech senior guard Justin Gray was asked about Kansas States discipline and ball control.

Defense will be paramount in this game just as it was against Kansas. The Red Raiders have held their opponents to a field goal percentage of only 36 percent. They have forced 251 turnovers, stolen the ball 128 times and only allow 59 points per game.

In the Wildcats last game, a 77-69 loss against West Virginia, they were out-rebounded by 11 and had 15 turnovers. We’ve already discussed how the Mountaineers limited Wade’s contributions.

The United Supermarkets Arena should be an electric atmosphere approaching a near sellout crowd. Coach Beard announced a promotion sponsored by his much talked about favorite place to eat, Whataburger.

This will be a close game with nose to nose defense. A couple of the Tech players talked about the 24 hour rule when it comes to wins and losses. The win over Kansas last Tuesday means nothing if you come home and lose to Kansas State. I think the team knows that, and understands. West Virginia beat the Wildcats by eight in Manhattan. I think Tech wins this one by about 15. Prediction: Tech 82, K State 67