LUBBOCK, Texas – No Kevin McCullar. No Terrence Shannon Jr. No problem.
Playing without their two leading scorers, the No. 25 Texas Tech Red Raiders used a frenzied defensive effort and interior toughness to upend No. 6 Kansas 75-67 Saturday.
The Red Raiders forced 17 Jayhawk turnovers and outscored them 44-18 in the paint. Kansas’ loaded roster kept the game close throughout, but Texas Tech just kept hustling – tipping passes, drawing charges and getting to the rim for layups.
Texas Tech’s lead was cut down to just four points when Clarence Nadolny missed a jump shot with 44 seconds remaining. But instead of Kansas getting the ball back, Kevin Obanor wrapped his arms around the ball while falling to the ground, forcing a held ball that let the Red Raiders maintain possession. They made free throws to put the game away.
The Red Raiders got big baskets from Bryson Williams all night. Coming off an uneven stretch of games, Williams got to his spots in the post and converted Saturday. Several of his baskets came at key junctures in the second half, preventing the Jayhawks from making runs. He finished the game with 22 points and nine rebounds.
Texas Tech had a tough time finding the net from 3-point range, making just four long-balls to Kansas’ 10. But without their jumpers falling, the Red Raiders forced their way inside, constantly driving and cutting.
No one exemplified that strategy better than Clarence Nadolny. The junior guard had mainly provided defense and hustle in his Red Raider career, but assumed a bigger offensive role with Shannon and McCullar out. He knifed into the lane persistently while both on and off the ball, notching a team-high 11 points in the first half and finishing with 17.
While the two big guns remained out, Texas Tech did get a couple of key pieces back. Guard Mylik Wilson played for the first time in a month, dished out five assists and made a clutch 3-pointer. Freshman big man Daniel Batcho also returned.
Defensively, the Red Raiders played a masterclass. They hounded ball-handlers, jumped into passing lanes, contested shots and slid in for charges when the Jayhawks did manage to get penetration.
The Jayhawks feature one of the best scoring duos in the nation in Christian Braun and Ochai Agbaji. Agbaji, one of the best players in the nation, nailed six 3-pointers and scored 24 points. Braun added 10. Sophomore forward Jalen Wilson did damage as well, scoring inside and out to net 20 points. Jayhawks not named Wilson, Braun or Agbaji scored just 13 points.
The Red Raiders had just about the hardest start to Big 12 play imaginable — facing off against the conference’s three highest-ranked teams with key players out of the lineup. Saturday, they showed that even when shorthanded, their grit and tenacity allows them to play with anyone in the conference.