No. 11 Kansas, No. 16 Texas Tech battle in Big 12
Kansas did not respond favorably to its first ranking this season outside the top 10.
The No. 11 Jayhawks (16-5, 5-3 Big 12) fell out of a first-place tie in the Big 12 after a 73-63 loss at Texas on Tuesday. Kansas will attempt to regain its foothold in the conference race at home Saturday against No. 16 Texas Tech.
"The pieces just don't quite fit yet," Kansas coach Bill Self said following the Texas game. "I've got to figure out a way to get the pieces to fit better because we've got good pieces. I've just got to do a better job of figuring it out."
Playing in Allen Fieldhouse always seems to provide cohesion for the Jayhawks, who have won 16 straight at home.
Nonetheless, they have a two-game overall losing streak and face some striking concerns.
Against Big 12 opponents, Kansas has a negative rebounding margin (minus-0.6) and averages more turnovers (13.8) than assists (11.0).
Junior forward Dedric Lawson averages a double-double for the season (19.2 points, 10.9 rebounds) but is coming off a subpar performance at Texas and appears to be tiring as a thin big man in the Jayhawks' four-guard system.
Lagerald Vick, the team's lone senior, is shooting well -- 45.3 percent on 3-pointers -- but he was removed from the starting lineup before the last game, with Self saying he was looking for more early energy.
Self inserted guard Ochai Agbaji into the lineup to replace Vick, and the freshman responded positively against Texas, scoring a career-high 24 points in just his seventh appearance. Agbaji represents a new piece for Self to incorporate.
"This is a guy who was redshirting at one point," Lawson said. "You've got to applaud him no matter what the outcome was of the game."
Texas Tech (17-4, 5-3) is coming off "one of our better games of the season," according to coach Chris Beard after an 84-65 drubbing of TCU on Monday.
A 25-10 run in the first half enabled the Red Raiders to gain a 16-point halftime lead before four players scored in double figures.
"If we can get that balanced scoring, take care of the ball and guard, I think we're one of the best teams in the country," Beard said.
Texas Tech is looking at an opportunity to knock off vulnerable Kansas, which is tied with the Red Raiders in a jumbled conference race. Baylor and Kansas State lead with 5-2 records.
The Red Raiders allow just 56.8 points on average, the best mark in the Big 12.
"We see ourselves as a defensive team, so every night we go out and try to follow the scouting report and do it to the best of our ability," said sophomore Jarrett Culver.
The 6-6 guard, a hometown recruit from Lubbock, poses one of the toughest matchup problems in the Big 12.
Culver is averaging 18.5 points, ranking third in the Big 12 behind Iowa State guard Marial Shayok (19.6) and Lawson. Culver is averaging 9.3 rebounds during league play.
--Field Level Media
Updated February 2, 2019