After suffering their first loss of the season last weekend, Kansas’ high-powered offense seems to have regained its poise.
This doesn’t bode well for a Texas Tech team that has been susceptible on defense lately.
The third-ranked Jayhawks look to build on an impressive offensive performance and extend the nation’s longest home winning streak to 52 games Saturday against the Red Raiders, who try to avoid opening Big 12 play with three consecutive losses for the first time in a decade.
Starting the season with 14 consecutive wins, Kansas (15-1, 1-0) held the nation’s No.1 ranking for the first nine weeks of the season. Their winning streak and hold on the top spot came to a sudden end with Sunday’s 76-68 loss at then-No. 16 Tennessee, which played with six scholarship players and three walk-ons.
The Jayhawks’ offense struggled to get in sync against the Volunteers, shooting 37.7 percent, but bounced back with a strong performance in Wednesday’s conference-opening 84-72 win at Nebraska. Kansas shot 57.8 percent from the field and a season-best 61.9 percent from 3-point range (13 of 21).
Sherron Collins led four Jayhawks in double figures with 22 points, while Marcus Morris added 19 on 7 of 8 shooting.
“Well, I think we’re a step closer but it still takes time,” said Collins, who averages a team-high 16.0 points. “I think we’re starting to find out who we are a little bit and that we’ll show a lot of courage down the line.”
With Collins leading the way, the Jayhawks are fourth in Division I in scoring at 85.0 points per game.
This could pose some problems for Texas Tech, as defense is not one of its strengths.
The Red Raiders (12-4, 0-2) are allowing an average of 72.7 points, last in the Big 12 and fifth-worst amongst teams from the six power conferences. They’ve yielded an average of 84.3 points in their last seven games.
Texas Tech, which was ranked 22nd just last week, allowed a season high in points in Wednesday’s 94-89 overtime loss to Missouri.
The Red Raiders, who also dropped their first two Big 12 games last season, are in danger of opening league play with three consecutive losses for the first time since starting 0-9 in 1999-2000. To avoid this mark, they’re going to have to win at Allen Fieldhouse for the first time in school history.
Kansas, which has won 51 consecutive home games since a 69-66 loss to then-No. 10 Texas A&M on Feb. 3, 2007, is 10-0 all-time against the Red Raiders at Allen Fieldhouse. In the last meeting in Lawrence on March 3, 2008, the Jayhawks won 109-51.
Although Kansas has had little trouble beating Texas Tech at home, the Red Raiders defeated the then-No. 9 Jayhawks 84-65 in Lubbock in their only meeting last season.
Collins finished with 11 points on 3 of 19 shooting - including 1 of 10 from 3-point range. The game was decided on the perimeter, as Kansas made 4 of 24 shots from beyond the arc, while Texas Tech was 15 of 27 on 3s.
Coach Bill Self believes that defeat will provide some inspiration for this meeting.
“I think the first Big 12 home game should be a motivation, a chance to go 2-0 is motivation, a chance to play at home is motivation and certainly the way they kicked our tail last year should be motivation, because they handled us quite easily last year,” he said.
Against the Jayhawks last season, Alan Voskuil, then a senior for Texas Tech, finished with 35 points, while Mike Singletary had 18 and 10 rebounds.
Singletary, who averages a team-high 15.4 points, had 12 points and a career-best 17 rebounds against the Tigers.