Photo cc: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports
The big story in this game was that Terrence Shannon, Jr. only played two minutes in the first half. Terrence is presumably still not 100%, because there’s no other logical reason to keep him off the floor. Shannon, Jr. also spent a good amount of this game being beat up and tossed around, so whatever is ailing him is unlikely to have improved. Kansas took full advantage early and capitalized on yet another slow start as McCormack carried the Jayhawks to a lead in the first half. Tech was never really able to close the gap, as KU doubled Mac McClung and dared the rest of the team to score enough to beat them. Marcus Santos-Silva, Kevin McCullar, and Micah Peavy did step up their offensive game, but another quiet scoring day from Kyler Edwards proved to be the proverbial nail in the coffin with Shannon, Jr. limited. Edwards really needs to come through in these scenarios, as the attention being paid to McClung creates opportunities for him.
Tech’s bench wasn’t really a plus or a minus in this game. Chibuzo Agbo and Tyreek Smith both posted quality minutes, although I would have liked to have seen Smith take a few more open looks from the perimeter. Kansas was giving him that shot the entire time he was out there, and it’s a shot he can make. He passed on a few good looks and then reluctantly put up one, which didn’t go down. In a game like this where scoring was at a premium, though, it would be nice if he felt like he had more of a green light. Clarence Nadolny played hard, but looked a bit overmatched at times and didn’t manage to score in his time on the floor. Jamarius Burton unfortunately reverted to early season form with a pair of bad turnovers in the first half, but to his credit, did play a much better second half.
Kansas deserves credit for executing a great defensive game plan. There’s an argument that the Jayhawks were fortunate to not face McCullar in the first matchup and a hobbled Shannon, Jr. in this game, but Kansas still pulled off the sweep of the Red Raiders. That is a frustrating reality for Texas fans considering that this Kansas team is more beatable than usual, but winning at Allen Fieldhouse is never easy. Kansas is also now on a five-game winning streak, so they appear to have found their form to an extent. It’s not that the Red Raiders played poorly in this game, but the margin of error is so small in Big XII play, and especially against KU on the road. Having Shannon not at 100% and Edwards on the bad side of his streaky play was the difference. Even still, Tech fought their way back into the game late. In the final minute, Shannon, Jr. almost came up with a steal that bounced back into the hands of KU for a basket. It was actually a one-possession game in the final seconds, but a defensive lapse on a closeout allowed Christian Braun to hit an open three to seal it.
Of note, this was a fairly well-officiated game. Allen Fieldhouse has often been the site of some very KU-friendly officiating and this season for Tech has featured some absolute thefts of wins at the hands of awful referees, but this wasn’t one of those games. Kansas simply made a few plays that Tech didn’t, and the Red Raiders didn’t help themselves much with another slow start and sub-par free-throw shooting. Texas Tech needs Terrence Shannon, Jr. to get healthy in a hurry, as he will be much-needed for Tech to make the tourney run it is capable of. It remains to be seen if the missed games against TCU and Iowa St will get rescheduled for what should provide tune-up opportunities before the tournament, but only Oklahoma State and Texas remain on the schedule as it stands. Both are certainly winnable games for Tech, although neither will come easy. It will likely be a relief the moment the gauntlet that is Big XII play is over so that the team can focus on the tournament, but it would certainly be nice for Tech to be able put another pair of quality wins on the resume next week.