Texas Tech-Kansas Preview
By JEFF MEZYDLO
(AP) -- Kansas players and coaches are not shy about openly expressing their desire to extend the school's lengthy streak of Big 12 regular-season championships.
The fourth-ranked Jayhawks look to move closer to achieving that goal as they try for a 12th consecutive home victory over last-place Texas Tech on Saturday night.
While some teams would rather not talk about a conference race or claim not to pay attention to the league standings, Kansas (21-5, 11-2) consistently uses the potential of an eighth consecutive regular-season league title as the ultimate source of motivation.
"We talk about it every day," coach Bill Self told Kansas' official website. "If you make a mistake now, you may not have time to come back. If you lose a game here in the next couple weeks, it may not be enough."
Tied atop the Big 12 with third-ranked Missouri, the Jayhawks have won three in a row since losing two of three - including a three-point road defeat to the Tigers on Feb. 4.
Tyshawn Taylor scored 20 points and Jeff Withey added 18 with 11 rebounds as Kansas overcame a 39.6 percent shooting night to gut out a 59-53 win at rival Kansas State on Monday. The Jayhawks, who were outrebounded 45-39, held the Wildcats to 4-of-18 shooting from 3-point range.
"We're going to have to keep fighting these battles to win the league," said Taylor, averaging 20.4 points on 52.9 percent shooting in his last 10 games. "We just have to keep battling and keep getting better, because we still have a couple of tough games."
A visit from Texas Tech (8-17, 1-12) might not prove to be one of them.
Looking for a 20th consecutive home victory, Kansas has won all 11 previous meetings with the Red Raiders at Allen Fieldhouse and the last four overall in the series by an average of 23.7 points. Thomas Robinson had 19 points with 12 rebounds and Taylor scored 15 as the Jayhawks shot 50.9 percent during an 81-46 road rout of Texas Tech on Jan. 11.
Though Withey had seven points in that contest, the 7-footer could pose a more serious challenge for the Red Raiders this time. The junior has averaged 20.3 points and 12.0 rebounds during Kansas' three-game winning streak.
"For someone who kind of came out of left field, I don't remember anyone as dominant," Self said. "How do you win without him?"
Despite boasting the Big 12's worst record, Texas Tech has played relatively well in its last two games.
The Red Raiders snapped an 11-game skid with a 65-47 victory over Oklahoma last Saturday. They were in position to win at Texas A&M on Tuesday but blew a nine-point halftime lead en route to a 47-38 loss.
"They're better than they were the first time we played them," Self said of Texas Tech, coached by Billy Gillispie, his former assistant at Illinois.
Freshman forward Jordan Tolbert averages a team-leading 11.4 points but only 7.6 during Big 12 play. He was held to four against the Jayhawks last month.
Texas Tech has dropped 16 consecutive road games against Top 25 opponents dating to a 77-75 win at then-No. 6 Texas A&M on Feb. 13, 2007.
Updated February 17, 2012