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Men's Hoops Preview - Kansas State at Texas Tech

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K-State travels to Lubbock to take on their second rematch of the season, against a Texas Tech squad that is still, well...meh.

Yeah, Gip. More of that.
Yeah, Gip. More of that.
Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports

The Kansas State Wildcats (12-10, 5-4 Big 12) travel across the plains of northwest Texas, to the bustling metropolis of Lubbock, to take on another of this season's rematches. The opponent? None other than the Texas Tech Red Raiders - your last place team in the Big 12! Texas Tech comes in losing their last two, after coming up with one of the most improbable wins of the conference schedule this year - a 78-73 home victory against Iowa State. Yes, that Iowa State. How'd they follow that one up? They went into the Lloyd Noble Center, and took a league-record pasting from the Sooners, 81-36.

K-State has hit the gauntlet of their schedule, and have dropped 3 of their last 4 after starting Big 12 play 4-1. The Cats last action was in hell Allen Fieldhouse, getting kicked in the nether-regions by KU in the opening minutes and never really shaking it off.

Know Your Opponent

The Texas Tech Red Raiders (11-11, 1-8 Big 12) is alone in last place in the conference, by virtue of having played (and lost) one more game than fellow basement dweller TCU. So what's changed since the game in Manhattan?

Well, this is a team that is seeing their good side of the ball (defense) stay about status quo (relatively impressive, given the teams they've been playing), but their offensive stats are getting worse. Texas Tech's offensive adjusted efficiency is still sub-250, and their eFG% and TO% on offense both rank among the worst in the country.

They're still pretty darned good at drawing fouls, though. Fourth in the country at getting to the line.

Keep a close watch on:

Still need to pay attention to Devaugntah Williams, the team's leading scorer (10.2ppg) and assist man (1.7apg). Robert Turner went for 16 points against us, and is coming off an 18-point performance against West Virginia this past Saturday. Finally, let's see what frosh Zach Smith has for us. He came out and had 6 points, 9 rebounds and 5 (!) blocks against the Cats in Bramlage, but has steadily been seeing his playing time drop over the past five games.

Offense/Defense Strategy:

The Red Raiders defend with solid man-to-man defense, introducing the very occasional zone to mix things up. In the interest of keeping things short, and the fact that in general we have been playing better during conference games, we need to focus on coming out and executing. Nothing special one way or the other - just do what we do. That means getting good off-ball movement, with Foster spotting up from the outside or dribble-driving to the bucket. Let Gip go to work in the paint. And let's find Nino haunting those elbows and short-side baseline areas.

K-State, of course, will be in its man defense. On-ball defense is critical. They don't shoot well, but they can make them if left open, as was witnessed by our game in Manhattan. Get out to shooters, and straight-up defense inside the arc to keep from fouling. That should be good enough.

Probable Starters

Kansas State Wildcats:

Nino Williams, 6-5 220 Sr
Thomas Gipson, 6-7 265 Sr
Wesley Iwundu, 6-7 205 So
Marcus Foster, 6-3 210 So
Jevon Thomas, 6-0 185 So

Texas Tech Red Raiders:

F Zach Smith, 6-8 210 Fr
Norense Odiase, 6-9 265 Fr
G Randy Onwuasor, 6-3 190 So
Robert Turner, 6-3 180 Sr
G Devaugntah Williams, 6-3 200 Jr

3 Keys To The Game

1. Come Out Hot

Don't let KU beat you again. Just play the game hard from the tip. Play great defense, find good shots, go rebound the basketball. Get this one over as soon as possible. I'd also like to see what Wesley Iwundu, Justin Edwards, Stephen Hurt, Malek Harris, and Nigel Johnson bring to the table. Some consistency and solid play would be great.

2. Windex

Rebound the dang basketball at both ends of the floor. Texas Tech is a poor shooting team; don't let them get more chances than absolutely necessary. On the offensive end of the floor, go get the ball if we're not making shots. Nothing in the rules prevent us from taking another crack at it off a missed shot.

3. Snap The Streak

Playing on the road in the Big 12 sucks. It's hard. It's not friendly. But this is arguably the easiest win we have left on the schedule. We have to come away with a victory here to break our current 2-game losing streak, and keep ourselves in contact with the front half of the conference race.

All stats by http://www.kenpom.com, or by the respective university's sports information.