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Jarrett Culver Brilliant as No. 14 Texas Tech Demolishes No. 12 Kansas

Megan ArmstrongContributor IFebruary 24, 2019

Texas Tech's Jarrett Culver (23) shoots over Kansas' K.J. Lawson (13) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019, in Lubbock, Texas. (AP Photo/Brad Tollefson)
Brad Tollefson/Associated Press

The No. 14 Texas Tech Red Raiders upset the No. 12 Kansas Jayhawks at United Supermarkets Arena on Saturday, but nothing about the hosts' 91-62 win felt like an upset as the Jayhawks never held a lead.

Kansas defeated Texas Tech 79-63 in Lawrence on Feb. 2. The stark difference between KU's performances at home and on the road in Lubbock, Texas, mirrors the team's 2-7 away record and undefeated home mark this season.

The Red Raiders continued a dominant stretch that has seen them win five games in a row with shutdown defense. Their No. 2 point-preventing unit sent the Jayhawks into halftime down 45-20—their largest deficit of the season and biggest halftime deficit in 18 years. 

Sophomore guard Jarrett Culver led the Red Raiders in scoring with 26 points on 10-of-21 shooting from the field and 3-of-8 from three.

        

Texas Tech's 3-and-D Style Makes Them Potential March Madness Darlings

LUBBOCK, TX - FEBRUARY 23: Brandone Francis #1 of the Texas Tech Red Raiders reacts after making a three point basket during the first half of the game against the Kansas Jayhawks on February 23, 2019 at United Supermarkets Arena in Lubbock, Texas.  (Phot
John Weast/Getty Images

Culver was Texas Tech's leading scorer, but this rout was a team effort from beyond the arc. The Red Raiders made a season-high 16 three-pointers on 26 attempts—the most by the program since it last beat Kansas at home in March 2009.

Fifth-year senior guard Brandone Francis provided nine points off of the bench—all from three-point range. Senior guard Matt Mooney contributed 13 points—3-of-4 from three—while sophomore guard Davide Moretti also nailed three three-pointers.

More importantly, though, is the scary trend the rest of the NCAA has to consider heading into March Madness. The Red Raiders have made double-digit three-point attempts in four of their last five games. And while that hot streak is impressive, this style has been a long time coming in Lubbock under head coach Chris Beard.

Beard's preferred style for his teams dating back to Arkansas Little Rock has been a suffocating defense enhanced by raining threes.

Thanks to this season's curated roster laden with fifth-year transfers, outstanding athleticism from Culver—KenPom's No. 1 in Big 12 Player of the Year rankings—and versatile players such as Mooney and Moretti, Beard is finally executing that game plan at a high level.

Tech's 91 points are the most for this squad in Big 12 play this season. That total is rooted in hot three-point shooting, which accounted for over half of those 91 points but also opened up the paint for senior forward Tariq Owens. 

However, Owens and senior center Norense Odiase did most of their damage on defense.   

The national discussion will soon morph into whether the Red Raiders can sustain their offensive firepower from deep. If not, will their season-long shutdown defense be enough to back a deep March Madness run?

The ESPN college basketball studio crew tabbed Texas Tech as a threat to make the Final Four midway through this performance. After the Red Raiders put the exclamation point on in the second half, they look like they could be.

           

Blowout Loss Proves Flawed Jayhawks Won't Continue Big 12 Title Streak

LUBBOCK, TX - FEBRUARY 23: Head coach Bill Self talks with Quentin Grimes #5 of the Kansas Jayhawks during the second half of the game against the Texas Tech Red Raiders on February 23, 2019 at United Supermarkets Arena in Lubbock, Texas. Texas Tech defea
John Weast/Getty Images

This would be a different discussion if KU could play every game at Allen Fieldhouse, but Bill Self's 2018-19 squad can't figure out how to win games on the road—and the NCAA tournament is played entirely on the road. 

Before the Jayhawks can even think about March Madness, though, they have to deal with Kansas State. The Wildcats now hold a two-game lead over KU (with just four games remaining). 

The Wildcats beat KU at Bramlage Coliseum on Feb. 5. Heading into Monday night's clash with KU at Allen Fieldhouse, Kansas State is coming off an 85-46 trampling of Oklahoma State, while Kansas will have to piece together the wreckage from getting trampled Saturday. 

Tech's 91-62 victory handed the Jayhawks their worst Big 12 loss in the Self era, and his game was ugly from the start for Kansas as freshman David McCormack committed two sloppy turnovers within the game's first three minutes. 

With the win, Texas Tech takes over sole possession of second place in the Big 12 and will ironically have to root for Kansas to beat Kansas State in order to keep their regular-season conference-title hopes alive. Meanwhile, KU enters the unfamiliar territory of sitting in third place with four games remaining.

After this loss in Lubbock, KU's chances to at least share the Big 12 title plummeted to 18 percent.

Should Kansas State complete the season sweep Monday night, the Jayhawks can kiss their record 14-season Big 12 title streak goodbye. 

Self's teams haven't won 14 consecutive regular-season Big 12 championships without facing adversity, but they've also never lost this badly in the Big 12. 

                 

What's Next?

KU (20-7) has less than 48 hours to recuperate before it takes on conference-leading No. 23 Kansas State (21-6)  in the comforts of Allen Fieldhouse on Monday night.

Texas Tech (22-5) will look for its sixth consecutive win Wednesday evening when Oklahoma State visits Lubbock.

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