Big 12 action pits Red Raiders against Jayhawks
Lawrence, KS (SportsNetwork.com) - With the Big 12 Conference crown already in hand, the eighth-ranked Kansas Jayhawks will close out their last week in regular-season play, starting with Wednesday evening's conference clash with the Texas Tech Red Raiders at the Allen Fieldhouse.
Bill Self's Jayhawks are coming off last weekend's 72-65 loss at Oklahoma State, but with losses by other league contenders, KU earned its 10th regular- season crown, 14th in Big 12 history and NCAA-best 57th overall league title.
The Red Raiders have had a tough run in conference play this season, coming in at a distant 5-11, ahead of only winless TCU (0-16) in the conference standings. Texas Tech enters this contest with a five-game losing streak in tow, including a 59-49 road loss at Baylor on Saturday.
Kansas owns a 26-4 series advantage and has won nine straight meetings with Texas Tech and are a perfect 13-0 against the Red Raiders in Lawrence.
The Red Raiders trailed by 11 points at the half in Waco, and despite shooting 52.4 percent from the floor over the final 20 minutes, they still dropped a 10-point decision to Baylor. Tech struggled from long range, going just 2-11 from behind the arc. The team was also outscored 20-7 at the free-throw line and outrebounded 40-24. Robert Turner led the way in defeat with 12 points. Toddrick Gotcher and Aaron Ross joined him in double figures with 10 points apiece.
Texas Tech hasn't been a prolific team in terms of scoring this season at a modest 69.4 ppg, but the team has been efficient for the most part, delivering on 46 percent of its shots. Forward Jaye Crockett leads the way as both the team's top scorer (13.6 ppg) and rebounder (6.3 rpg). Fellow forward Jordan Tolbert (10.9 ppg, 6.0 rpg) isn't far behind in either category. Turner is just below double-digit scoring (9.6 ppg) and serves as the team's top distributor (2.7 apg).
The Jayhawks will play the last two games of the regular season without star center Joel Embiid, who will rest a sore back until the postseason starts. Embiid is an integral piece going forward for Kansas, as the 7-foot youngster has grown into a dominant low post threat, shooting .626 from the floor, while averaging 11.2 points, 8.1 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game. Kansas however, has plenty of talent to assuage the loss in the short term and will look to fellow freshmen Andrew Wiggins (16.3 ppg) and Wayne Selden Jr. (10.4 ppg), as well as sophomore Perry Ellis (13.2 ppg, 6.5 rpg) to fill the void.
The Jayhawks lost for the first time this season when having a halftime lead, as they fell to the Cowboys in Stillwater on Saturday. Wiggins led the way with 15 points, but was responsible for six of the team's unforgiving 22 turnovers in the loss. Embiid recorded his eighth double-double of the season, finishing with 13 points and the same number of rebounds. Selden also finished with 13 points, while Ellis tacked on 11 for Kansas, which shot just 40.4 percent from the floor.
03/05 10:49:32 ET