One of the Big 12 road venues that has been an enigma of sorts for the Kansas Jayhawks has to be Lubbock’s United Spirit Arena, home of the Texas Tech Red Raiders.
The Jayhawks have suffered upset defeats at the hands of the Red Raiders three times, going 4-3 all time in United Spirit Arena.
Of course, for Kansas (13-1, 1-0), one of the distracting factors down there is playing in front of a typically sparse crowd. Texas Tech (8-5, 1-1) is usually not anywhere near the hostile environment that the Jayhawks are used to. It can be a distraction.
But, after Monday’s overtime escape against Iowa State, expect KU to be at full attention and eager to go out and jump on the Red Raiders.
The focus will be of course on guard Ben McLemore, who is still the talk of fans after Monday’s miracle three to send the game into overtime. Overnight, it seems as if people are now talking about him as possibly being the number one overall pick in June’s NBA Draft.
In reality, what makes this team particularly scary, is that the casual fan may think the Jayhawks firepower only rest in McLemore’s hand, when in reality there are number of players that can make huge impacts, most notably senior forward Travis Releford.
Releford has been on fire of late and has shown the ability to light it up from the field. The streak has come after coach Bill Self instructed Releford to be more aggressive, which he was in last Sunday’s win over Temple.
Texas Tech should be business as usual for Kansas, but the adversity the program has gone through before the season could make this an emotional day for a team that would love a bright spot in their season.
The Red Raiders lost coach Billy Gillespie, who resigned prior to the season amidst controversy of player mistreatment. Under interim coach Chris Walker, Tech is trying to come together as a team and though, the talent may not be as strong as it was several years ago, they’ll play hard.
For Kansas, jumping all over Tech ensures an easy win in anticipation of Monday’s home showdown with Baylor. For Texas Tech, look for them to try to slow the game down to frustrate the Jayhawks. A big early lead takes this approach away from the Red Raiders and allows the Jayhawks to dictate tempo, which could help them cruise this afternoon, down on the south plains of Texas.