Kansas-Texas Tech Preview

The Associated Press

Kansas needed an improbable shot just to get to overtime before eventually winning its Big 12 opener.

Improving to 2-0 in conference play figures to be much easier. The sixth-ranked Jayhawks - who own one of the nation's most efficient offenses - play Saturday at Texas Tech, the league's worst defensive team.

Kansas has won five straight meetings, and last season's 81-46 road victory was the Red Raiders' worst home loss ever.

The Jayhawks' 49.9 percent field-goal shooting leads the Big 12 and is one of the country's best marks. Texas Tech's field-goal defense (44.6 percent) and points per game against (70.4) are both last in the conference.

Offense wasn't the problem for Kansas (13-1, 1-0) in a 97-89 overtime win over Iowa State on Wednesday. Kansas allowed 79 points in regulation, nearly 20 more than its average entering the game.

The Jayhawks trailed by six with 4:01 remaining and needed a banked 3-pointer by Ben McLemore in the final seconds of regulation just to get to overtime. It was their 12th straight win after the previous 11 came by an average of 20.4 points.

"It just showed toughness," said Jeff Withey, who had 15 points and three blocked shots. His 5.1 blocks per game lead the nation.

"We had the formula to lose that game. We were down with a couple of minutes left and they kept getting offensive rebounds and scoring. Ben just took over the last couple of minutes ... That shows he is a tough player to take that big shot. Moving forward every game matters and getting this win is going to help us in the long run."

The game-tying shot was just one highlight for McLemore, who finished with 33 points, the most by a Kansas freshman since Danny Manning scored 35 against Oklahoma State in 1985. McLemore was 10 of 12 from the floor and hit all six of his 3-point attempts.

McLemore's 16.9 points per game rank second in the Big 12 and his 51.0 field-goal percentage leads all guards.

"(Coach Bill Self) just wanted me to be more aggressive," McLemore said. "That's what I was doing, trying to be more aggressive and trying to get my teammates involved."

Texas Tech (8-5, 1-1) will try to slow him down after struggling defensively in its last game. The Red Raiders had shown signs of improvement in their previous two games, limiting Florida A&M and TCU to a combined 33.6 percent shooting, but they let Baylor shoot 53.6 percent and hit 8 of 14 from 3-point range in an 82-48 loss Tuesday.

They also made a season-low 30.5 percent of their shots.

"We need to play really well and they need to play not so well, and whether it's a function of them taking you lightly or them having an off-game, that's where we are," interim coach Chris Walker said. "I told the guys that there is a maturity level that we have to muster against really good teams and we haven't yet and we've got to keep working towards that."

Forward Jaye Crockett has been one of the team's bright spots, averaging 14.8 points to rank among the country's leading scorers off the bench. But he has struggled recently, shooting 37.0 percent in his last three games compared to 56.7 percent on the season.

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