No. 19 Texas Tech (13-3, 3-1 Big 12) is carrying a three-game winning streak into Manhattan, Kan., where they will face a struggling Kansas State squad Saturday.
It’s been quite a week for the Red Raiders.
Already this week they’ve handed No. 1 Baylor its first loss of the season — in Waco, Texas, no less — and demolished Oklahoma State 78-57 Thursday night.
“I thought our guys played well,” Texas Tech coach Mark Adams said after the OSU game. “I told our guys after this game I am just as proud of this win as I was the other two, and I mean that sincerely. This is a tough game. We played against some very good athletes and a team that’s well-coached. For us to play the defense we did tonight, even on the offensive end, I thought it was a heck of a game for us.”
Texas Tech has a balanced scoring attack, with four players in double figures and six with at least 8.9 points per game. They are led by Terrence Shannon with 14.3 points per game, Kevin McCullar with 12.8, Bryson Williams with 11.9 and Davion Warren at 10.5.
The Red Raiders enter Saturday’s game ranking third in the Big 12 and 12th nationally with a scoring margin of 16.8 points per game.
Kansas State (8-7, 0-4 Big 12) is heading in the opposite direction. The Wildcats have lost four straight games, none more painful than a 60-57 loss Wednesday at home to TCU. The Cats led the Horned Frogs by five points with 1:11 remaining but they allowed an 8-0 run to end the game.
“To me, the last 12 or 13 days have been like a bad dream, with a nightmare the other day,” Wildcats coach Bruce Weber said. “But (the players) came back very quiet, no messing around. We’re moving forward.”
Weber knows his squad will have its hands full with Texas Tech.
“They’ve been special, and they’ve done it without their two mainstays at times with Shannon and McCullar (missing time),” Weber said. “McCullar was really instrumental in their win against Baylor. They’ve got some veteran guys that transferred in. Mark has them playing together and playing hard. It’s going to come down to toughness.”
The Wildcats just need to figure out how to score more points, especially in crunch time. The defense has not been a huge problem. They’re 29th in Division I with 61.7 points allowed per game, 30th in field-goal percentage defense (39.2 percent) and eighth in 3-point percentage defense (26.7 percent).
But their offensive numbers are ugly. The Wildcats are shooting just 42.8 percent from the floor and 34.1 percent from 3-point land — neither of which rank in the top 100 nationally.
With the lack of a productive post presence, the Wildcats depend on their backcourt. Nijel Pack leads Kansas State with 15.5 points per game, followed by Markquis Nowell (13.0) and Mark Smith (10.5). In the loss to TCU, Nowell led the way with 18 points, three rebounds, four assists and seven steals.
Weber is 8-10 all-time against Texas Tech, but Kansas State leads the overall series 24-20. This is the first of two regular season meetings between the Red Raiders and Wildcats this season. They’re scheduled to play again on Feb. 28 in Lubbock, Tex.