Texas Tech basketball: How the Red Raiders can beat KU in Lawrence

Jan 8, 2022; Lubbock, Texas, USA; Texas Tech Red Raiders head coach Mark Adams and guard Terrence Shannon Jr. (1) react after a game against the Kansas Jayhawks at United Supermarkets Arena. Mandatory Credit: Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 8, 2022; Lubbock, Texas, USA; Texas Tech Red Raiders head coach Mark Adams and guard Terrence Shannon Jr. (1) react after a game against the Kansas Jayhawks at United Supermarkets Arena. Mandatory Credit: Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports /

Life in the Big 12 doesn’t get any easier for the Texas Tech basketball team on Monday night as Mark Adams takes his squad to Larence, Kansas to face the Jayhawks on their home court. That’s an arena where Tech has won just once in program history, an 85-73 win in 2018.

But with great challenges come great opportunities.  And that’s what Tech has in front of it this week.  If Tech can pull out a win at Allen Fieldhouse on Monday and beat Mississippi State in Lubbock on Saturday as part of the Big 12/SEC Challenge, it will almost certainly vault the Red Raiders into the top 10 of the national polls.

Of course, that is easier said than done, especially the first part of that equation.  But let’s take a look at what the Red Raiders need to do in order to sweep the regular-season series from KU for the first time ever.

Survive early

Make no mistake, KU and their home arena will be juiced up for this Big Monday showdown.  Thus, Tech is likely going to have to survive an early onslaught from the home team.

For instance, last season, in a 67-61 loss, the Red Raiders fell behind early by the count of 10-2.  The year prior, KY jumped out to a 10-0 lead before Tech fought back in what would end up a 78-75 Jayhawk victory.  Even the 2019 team that went to the National Title Game was not immune from this pattern as KU would build a 21-9 lead in the first ten minutes of 2019’s game in Lawrence on their way to a blowout victory.

On the other hand, it was the Red Raiders that got off to a fast start in Lawrence in 2018.  Behind eight quick points from Justin Gray, the Red Raiders would storm their way to a 23-9 lead in the first ten minutes of the game as Tech would never trail on the way to a historic win in Lawrence.

Tonight, Tech will get KU’s best shot, especially right out of the gates.  After all, KU will not take Tech for granted after losing to the Red Raiders in Lubbock earlier this month.  So keep an eye on the first ten minutes of this game because that will be a stretch Tech must survive in order to come out on top.

Be even at the line

Unfortunately, it is almost a law that when playing on the road in the Big 12, a team is going to have a deficit in free throw attempts.  It just seems as if time and again the home team gets significantly more calls than the road team in this conference and in the past two games, Tech has been the beneficiary of that quirk.

But tonight in Lawrence, the Red Raiders will have to earn everything they get, especially when it comes to getting to the line.  Still, if Tech can be even with KU in free-throw attempts, it will go a long way towards securing a possible win.

Right now, Tech has shot an even 400 free throws on the year.  That’s by far the most of any Big 12 team.  That breaks down to an average of 21 per game.  Meanwhile, KU is averaging 18.5 attempts per game, which is fourth-most in the conference.

Of course, getting to the line is all well and good but making the most of those opportunities will be key for a Tech team that is just 8th in the Big 12 in free-throw percentage at 67.8%.  Still, the key will be how many trips to the line Tech can earn because that will be an indication of not only how the game is being called but also how well Tech is forcing the action on the offensive end of the floor.

Defend the 3-point line

As is typically the case with the Jayhawks, the 3-point line is one of their main weapons of choice this year as they lead the conference in 3-point accuracy.  Thus, Tech has to keep them from making a killing from deep if there is any hope of a road upset tonight.

One of the keys in Tech’s win in Lubbock is that KU didn’t shoot a ridiculous percentage from beyond the arc making 10 of 26 attempts (38.5%) which is about on-par for what the Jayhawks shoot for the season.

But in home games, KU is always more dangerous when firing away from long distance.  And tonight, it will be imperative that Tech does a better job of holding down the Big 12’s leading scorer.

In Lubbock, KU guard Ochai Agbaji was 6-9 from 3-point range on his way to 20 points.  The Kansas City, Missouri native is shooting a ridiculous 45.8% from deep this year and Tech has to make sure that he doesn’t get hot again tonight.

Also, Christian Braun is a dangerous weapon from the outside.  Though he’s shooting just 33.8% from deep this year and was 0-2 from 3-point range in Lubbock this year, he is always a player that opposing teams have to keep an eye on and that will be the case tonight.

We know that Tech likely won’t be able to outshoot KU from long distance in this game but that won’t spell doom if Tech can make sure that the Jayhawks don’t go nuts with the 3-ball.  Should Tech keep KU to right around their average from beyond the arc, it will go a long way towards helping the Red Raiders come away with their second-ever win in Lawrence.