By Ethan Koch
Red Raider coach Chris Beard kept looking for any extra motivation to fuel his players. He never wanted them to surrender an inch.
“I kept telling our guys in timeouts ‘we’re down six, down seven,'” Beard said. “At halftime I told our guys ‘we are down 9. We’ve got to outscore them by 10 to win.'”
Even when the final buzzer rang, Beard hesitated to admit his team had dominated for a full 40 minutes.
“I don’t think we have an advantage over Kansas,” the second year coach said. “We have Whataburger in Lubbock, Texas. I don’t think you all do. Maybe that’s an advantage.”
Texas Tech, fueled by 42 points off the bench and 26 points off turnovers, earned a statement win over Kansas 85-73, their first win ever in Lawrence.
When you make history! @TexasTechMBB pic.twitter.com/YFKauBiDGD
— Collin Prentiss (@cprentiss22) January 3, 2018
The lost marked the first time since January 14, 2006 against Kansas State that KU lost a home conference opener.
Tech owned the rebounding advantage the whole night, swiping 44 rebounds compared to KU’s 29. That set the tone for wire-to-wire finish for the Red Raiders a win that senior Keenan Evans anticipated.
“We worked too hard not to think that [we’d get the win].”
Texas Tech now improves to 13-1 and 2-0 in conference play after back-to-back top 25 wins. They beat then-18th ranked Baylor 77-53 last Friday.
KU now falls to 1-1 in conference play for the first time since that 2005-2006.
Texas Tech jumped on the Jayhawks early and often, starting the game with eight straight points from senior guard Justin Gray. The Tampa native made two threes in the first three minutes. Before tonight, he only made one from beyond the arc. Texas Tech then proceed to take a 23-7 lead with 10:45 left in the first half over the number 10 team in the country at home.
“The start hurt and then certainly every time we tried to make a comeback we did something to help them keep us at arms distance,” Self said.
Texas Tech had five players in double-figures scoring, led by Evans’ 15 points off 4-of-16 shooting and 7-of-8 shooting from the free throw line.
The Red Raiders continued to uphold their reputation of playing staunch defense. The 18th ranked team in the country came into the game only allowing 58.2 points per game and 36 percent shooting. Kansas struggled to find any offensive rhythm as they shot 45.5 percent from the floor and 23.1 percent from three, including 0-for-12 in the second.
“I didn’t know that we missed all 12,” senior Devonte’ Graham said. “But yeah it’s just an off-shooting night.”
Graham scored 27 points, shooting 6-of-13 from the floor and 13-of-13 from the charity strip. Svi Mykhailiuk and Udoka Azubuike each had 11.
Graham emphasized a need to get to a faster start: “We just got to come out from the jump and jump on teams like they jumped on us today,” the senior leader said.
The players continued stressing the importance of toughness and how they have to improve quickly in order to right the ship.
“We got to do a way better job of rebounding, obviously,” Graham said. “We just got get way tougher… You just got to want it and gut it out and get stops. Tonight, we couldn’t get stops.”
When asked about Graham’s comments, Self cringed.
“I think it’s ridiculous that kids could say that we got to want it more. I think that’s a ridiculous statement. But what’s sad is it’s true. Whenever you say that somebody wants something more than you, oh my god! To me, as a coach, that makes me cringe because that is my responsibility to put them in a position to be competitive, and we haven’t done that well enough.”
This game, along with the loss to Arizona State loss, marked the first time since 1984 that Kansas lost back-to-back games at Allen Fieldhouse since 1984. This was also the worst loss at home since Arizona beat the Jayhawks 91-74 in 2003. Self has taken note of his team home blues.
“Our last two real home games, it’s been people filing out with a minute left because we weren’t competitive.”
Kansas will look to recover as they travel to Fort Worth to take on 16th ranked TCU on Saturday.
.@TexasTechMBB is 2-0 in the best basketball conference in the nation. 💪😤
Here’s how they made it happen: pic.twitter.com/6vABc8fT3R
— Big 12 Conference (@Big12Conference) January 3, 2018