The Allen Fieldhouse remains an impenetrable fortress.
The Kansas Jayhawks remained unbeaten in their home arena Saturday, defeating a tough Texas Tech team 79-63. Dedric Lawson was excellent in the win, posting 25 points and 10 rebounds, while Devon Dotson (20 points, four assists, three steals) also came up big in the win.
Texas Tech's best player, Jarrett Culver, struggled in the contest, scoring just 10 points while shooting 5-of-17 from the field. Davide Moretti (14 points) and Tariq Owens (12 points, 10 rebounds) tried to pick up the slack, but it wasn't enough for the Red Raiders.
While the Jayhawks were feeling it from deep (13-of-30 from three), the Red Raiders shot themselves out of this one (6-of-28 beyond the arc).
In a Season Full of Adversity, Kansas Remains the Team to Beat in the Big 12
Kansas has not had an easy season. Star center Udoka Azubuike was lost for the year in early January with torn ligaments in his right hand. On Friday, Silvio De Sousa was ruled ineligible for the remainder of both this season and next because his guardian took money from a booster.
And the Jayhawks were even without guard Marcus Garrett on Saturday, as he recovers from an ankle injury. Down three players—two who won't return this season—the Jayhawks still hammered the Red Raiders.
Consider it a statement win. The Jayhawks came into Saturday mired in a 1-3 stretch, in desperate need of a win as they seek their 15th straight regular-season Big 12 championship. They are 6-3 in the conference, tied with Iowa State and chasing Kansas State (5-2) and Baylor (5-2).
Everybody knows Kansas is brutal to beat at home. It's been on the road where the Jayhawks have suffered their five losses. But given their recent struggles, Saturday's win was crucial no matter the location.
Despite the adversity they've face, this Kansas team remains very talented. Lawson has been a force all season. Lagerald Vick brings experience to the table. Dotson picked the perfect time to post a season high in points and is capable of heating up and blitzing teams on the perimeter.
Big 12 teams may not fear the Jayhawks like they have in the past, but they're fully aware of Kansas' domination of this conference under Bill Self. Saturday was a reminder that the kings of the Big 12 won't so easily be dethroned.
Texas Tech Needs a Second Player to Emerge Alongside Jarrett Culver
When Texas Tech has lost this season, it's largely been because Culver hasn't gotten much help.
Against Duke in December, Culver went for 25 points but none of his other teammates scored more than seven. In January losses to Iowa State, Baylor and Kansas State, none of Culver's teammates scored more than 14 points.
Culver has been awesome all season long, but on Saturday it was obvious how vulnerable the Red Raiders become when he has an off day. And boy, did he have an off day.
Cole Zwicker @colezwicker
Culver was terrible today (defense, decision-making etc). The 3 has completely betrayed him in conference play (now 7-38 and 3-33 if you remove the Arkansas game). Shot was always a WIP, but still buying based on year 1 to 2 mechanics leap + work ethic + difficult shot-making.
To be fair, some credit goes to Ochai Agbaji for his defense on Culver:
Yes, the team's defense is elite, and when Culver is cooking, the Red Raiders are going to be in contests based on those two factors. But talented teams like Kansas are going to put pressure on that defense, and smart teams are going to find ways to make life difficult for Culver.
Whether it's Matt Mooney, Moretti or Owens, somebody needs to more consistently take on the scoring load for Texas Tech.
Sure, maybe Culver will get hot and lead the Red Raiders on a deep March run. We've seen players of his talent do that in the past. But teams that win titles almost always do so with a variety of options to pick up the slack.
At the moment, Texas Tech lacks a true second option, and against good teams it is going to cost them.
Kansas will travel to Kansas State for a major test Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET, while Texas Tech will host West Virginia on Monday night at 9 p.m. ET.