By Lucas Gulotta, Associate College Basketball Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: Sprint Center (19,000) -- Kansas City, Missouri.
Television: ESPN2. Home Record: TTU 9-11, KU 16-1. Away Record: TTU 1-8, KU
7-3. Neutral Record: TTU 1-0, KU 3-1. Conference Record: TTU 3-15, KU 14-4.
Series Record: Kansas leads, 24-4. .
GAME NOTES: The Kansas Jayhawks begin their quest for their ninth Big 12
Tournament title as they square off with the ninth-seeded Texas Tech Red
Raiders in the quarterfinals at the Spring Center on Thursday.
The winner of this game will advance to take on the victor of the fourth-
seeded Oklahoma Sooners and fifth-seeded Iowa State Cyclones bout on Friday.
The Red Raiders were demolished twice by the Jayhawks this season. First,
Kansas won, 60-46, at Texas Tech on Jan. 12. It then welcomed the Red Raiders
to Allen Fieldhouse on March 4, only to get out the brooms and complete a
79-42 rout of TTU.
The Red Raiders dropped 11 of their last 12 regular season games before their
thrilling, 71-69, victory over West Virginia in the first round of the
tourney. The game was tied up at 69 with just seconds remaining before Dejan
Kravic tipped in a shot to lift TTU to the win. Jaye Crockett scored a game-
high 18 points for the Red Raiders. Ty Nurse and Jordan Tolbert chipped in 12
and 11 points, respectively. Josh Gray and Kravic added 10 points apiece.
Despite the positive outcome from Thursday's first round, the Red Raiders will
be huge underdogs in their second postseason appearance. Coming into the
tournament, TTU had the worst scoring defense in the Big 12, allowing 72.3 ppg
to opponents, and its scoring offense wasn't nearly strong enough to keep pace
(65.2 ppg). Crockett boasts 11.9 ppg and 6.8 rpg, while Tolbert (9.7 ppg, 5.6
rpg) and Kravic (8.6 ppg, 5.2 ppg) round out a solid trio of forwards.
Bill Self's Jayhawks earned the No. 1 seed and could be given the same honor
in the upcoming NCAA Tournament with a strong showing in the conference
tourney. Kansas has now won at least a share of the Big 12 regular season
crown for nine years in a row. It was very impressive throughout its campaign,
outscoring its opponents by 13.4 ppg and also grabbing an average of 6.5
rebounds more per tilt.
Ben McLemore has emerged as one of the top prospects for the upcoming NBA
Draft after being relatively unknown coming into the season. McLemore leads
the way with 16.7 ppg to go along with 5.3 rpg, while senior center Jeff
Withey is averaging 13.6 ppg and 8.6 rpg. Withey is also one of the top
defenders in the nation due to his tremendous pairing of agility and size.
Withey registered a triple-double earlier in the season when he tallied 16
points, 12 rebounds and 12 blocks against San Jose State. He almost notched
another triple-double against WVU on March 2 with 14 points, 10 boards and
McLemore and Withey are just the tip of the iceberg for the Jayhawks. Kansas
should be able to coast to the next round, but may struggle against the
conference's more formidable opponents later on.