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Don't be surprised if this KU senior has a big game against Texas Tech

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Kansas guard Ben McLemore tries to wrap up a pass by Texas Tech guard Dusty Hannahs during the first half, Monday, March 4, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Ben McLemore tries to wrap up a pass by Texas Tech guard Dusty Hannahs during the first half, Monday, March 4, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Team: Texas Tech
Record: 11-19
KenPom (Ken Pomeroy) Ranking: 254
All statistics from KenPom.com and are as of Thursday unless otherwise noted

• For a refresher of Texas Tech's strengths/weaknesses, check out the Five-minute Scout from March 4.

3 Numbers to Know

27.8 — The Red Raiders' three-point percentage during the regular season, which was the worst mark in the conference and 10th-worst in the NCAA. It was a shock, then, when Texas Tech hit eight of 12 three-pointers in Wednesday's 71-69 victory over West Virginia in the opening round of the Big 12 tournament. Jaye Crockett — previously a 29-percent three-point shooter — made three of three, while Ty Nurse — a 25-percent long-range shooter — was 3-for-4.

0.61 — Texas Tech's points per possession in March 4's 79-42 loss at KU. That was the second-worst offensive performance by a Red Raiders' team in the last 16 seasons and also was the worst offensive effort by a team in a Big 12 game this season. Texas Tech's biggest nemesis was poor shooting, as the Red Raiders' 27.4 percent effective field-goal percentage that night was their worst mark since at least the 1997-98 season.

• 2-18 — Texas Tech's record this season against KenPom top-200 opponents. TTU defeated Iowa State (No. 35) at home on Jan. 23, 56-51, and West Virginia (No. 119) on Wednesday, 71-69. Take out those two wins, and the Red Raiders had only three other Big 12 games in which they stayed within single digits of their opponent.

3 Players to Watch (and one sentence explaining why)

Six-foot-7 Jordan Tolbert (No. 32) is automatic around the basket, making 55 percent of his twos in the regular season with 62 percent of his field goal attempts coming at the rim (according to Hoop-Math.com).

Six-foot-7 forward Jaye Crockett (No. 30) plays bigger than his size, ranking in the top 100 in offensive rebounding percentage while making 78 percent of his layup/tip/dunk attempts (NCAA average is 61 percent).

Six-foot-1 guard Josh Gray (No. 5) had six assists against West Virginia on Wednesday, but his offensive production is hurt by a high number of turnovers and a poor three-point percentage (15 of 79, 19 percent).

Prediction

KU hasn't always played well in its opening game of the Big 12 tournament. Still, the Jayhawks have never played an opponent this bad.

Since 2003 when KenPom started posting his numbers, KU has never played a team ranked in the Pomeroy 200s in the Big 12 tourney. In fact, KU's only played one foe that was in the 100s, and that was Nebraska back in 2006 (104th).

This was a good year to be the No. 1 seed, and KU shouldn't have any issues against an overmatched Texas Tech team that doesn't do much well offensively or defensively.

Kansas 71, Texas Tech 51

Hawk to Rock

Kevin Young has made 12 of 15 field goals against Texas Tech this year (80 percent), and if he stays out of foul trouble, he should be able to put up numbers again Thursday. Texas Tech allows a lot of layups, struggles with defensive rebounding and is vulnerable to opponent steals, and those three weaknesses match up with Young's strengths. Mark me down for double-figure scoring and at least four offensive rebounds and two steals from the senior.

Predictions tally
25-6 record, 362 points off (11.7 points off/game)

Hawk to Rock
SE Missouri: Perry Ellis (2nd in KUsports.com ratings)
Michigan State: Jeff Withey (4th)
Chattanooga: Andrew White III (10th)
Washington State: Ben McLemore (4th)
Saint Louis: Perry Ellis (7th)
San Jose State: Travis Releford (2nd)
Oregon State: Jeff Withey (2nd)
Colorado: Elijah Johnson (4th)
Belmont: Kevin Young (6th)
Richmond: Jeff Withey (1st)
Ohio State: Ben McLemore (1st)
American: Jeff Withey (5th)
Temple: Kevin Young (2nd)
Iowa State: Travis Releford (4th)
Texas Tech: Ben McLemore (4th)
Baylor: Jeff Withey (4th)
Texas: Elijah Johnson (8th)
Kansas State: Kevin Young (6th)
Oklahoma: Travis Releford (3rd)
West Virginia: Jeff Withey (2nd)
Oklahoma State: Ben McLemore (1st)
TCU: Kevin Young (3rd)
Oklahoma: Travis Releford (5th)
Kansas State: Naadir Tharpe (3rd)
Texas: Kevin Young (6th)
Oklahoma State: Ben McLemore (7th)
TCU: Travis Releford (4th)
Iowa State: Jeff Withey (4th)
West Virginia: Perry Ellis (10th)
Texas Tech: Jeff Withey (1st)
Baylor: Elijah Johnson (4th)
Average: 4.2nd in KUsports.com ratings

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