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SLATE: Will the road be friendly to K-State at Texas Tech?

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NCAA Basketball: Kansas State at Texas Tech
It would be helpful if Montavious Murphy could rock the rim a few times again tonight.
Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Hoops tonight and a little football talk.

Basketball

Bruce and the boys travel to Lubbock to take on No. 18 Texas Tech tonight at 6 p.m. Both teams lost in frustrating fashion on Saturday—the Wildcats by failing to completely erase an 18-point early deficit to TCU, and the Red Raiders in overtime to Oklahoma State. Carlos Silva at the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal reports that Tech head coach Chris Beard doesn’t believe in “bounce-back” games. Ryan Black at the Mercury counters that the Wildcats are absolutely looking to bounce back.

In his preview column, Kellis Robinett notes that the Red Raiders have yet to beat a team in the top 100 of KenPom, but that their defense is excellent, as usual, yielding only 61.5 points per game. Teams have shot only 28.7% from three-point range and 42.3% from inside the arc. Those stats may not bode well for K-State’s offensively challenged squad. But, undaunted, Kellis opines that the Raiders’ deliberate pace and lack of a dominant star make this a decent matchup for the Cats, and he thinks it may be a close game.

Also (perhaps) playing to K-State’s favor: Big 12 road teams have enjoyed unprecedented success thus far in the COVID-subdued environments of league arenas, compiling an 8-4 record. Whether that is a product of empty seats or of the matchups to this point in the season is open to debate. But there is little doubt the sterile atmosphere plays a role. Would Texas have beaten the Jayhawks by 25 points if Allen Fieldhouse had been packed and rocking as it normally is? Not likely. Crowds don’t make any baskets. But they do matter.

Football

After all the hand-wringing about losing players to the dreaded transfer portal, K-State has managed to pull a few prospects out of the mysterious void to plug roster gaps. Drew Schneider introduces the first of them, Utah State transfer linebacker Eric Munoz.

In K-State Sports Extra, Austin Siegel tells the story of the K-State football season through the prism of five stats. A number of them focus on the performances of returning players who may go a long way toward telling the story of the 2021 season. Because 2021 is all about optimism.