Five things to know before tonight’s Kansas-Texas Tech game

03/05/2014 5:35 PM

03/05/2014 5:35 PM

It’s Senior Night at Allen Fieldhouse, a group of three veterans making their last appearance at home. Seniors Tarik Black, Niko Roberts and Justin Wesley will take their last run through the Phog on Tuesday night. Freshman Andrew Wiggins probably will, too.

But there is also a game tonight — No. 8 Kansas facing Texas Tech — so here’s five things to know while we wait for the tip.

1. The tempo. Texas Tech was one possession away from pulling off a major upset against Kansas in Lubbock, and the formula was pretty simple: The Red Raiders slowed the game down to a crawl.

Kansas’ offense was still relatively efficient, but the Jayhawks finished the game with just 53 possessions — 42 shots and 11 turnovers. It should be more difficult for Texas Tech to control the tempo in the confines of Allen Fieldhouse.

2. The Meat Necklace Game. In Kansas lore, there aren’t many more memorable senior nights than 2008, when the Jayhawks nuked Texas Tech 109-51. KU, of course, would go on to win the NCAA Title. And in the moments after the game, then Texas Tech coach Pat Knight offered a still epic quote that pretty aptly described the outcome.

“I feel like someone put a meat necklace around my neck and threw me into a lion’s den,” Knight said.

For Kansas, it didn’t really matter who was on the floor that night. The Jayhawks hit 14 of 24 from three-point range and 40 of 67 from the floor. Six Kansas players scored in double-figures, and 15 different players had at least one bucket.

Maybe the past isn’t always a good predictor of the future, but Kansas has continued the trend of dominating home wins over Texas Tech. KU has won its last four home games over Texas Tech by an average of 33.5 points.

3. Replacing Embiid. Senior Tarik Black will step into the starting lineup while freshman center Joel Embiid misses the final two regular-season games with a back injury. Sophomore Jamari Traylor will likely be the first big guy off the bench, while freshman Landen Lucas could see increased minutes as the fourth big.

Black, though, said on Tuesday that he won’t try to do too much while filling in for Embiid.

“If this is my time, and that’s what takes place, and I’m blessed enough to have the opportunity, then cool, it takes place,” Black said. “But this team will function the way it needs to in order to win games, and that’s something I will not mess up.”

4. Wiggins Watch. Andrew Wiggins has 472 points this season, 12 shy of surpassing Xavier Henry for third on the all-time freshmen scoring list at Kansas.

5. One-seed questions. After Syracuse’s latest home loss to Georgia Tech on Tuesday, the door appears cracked even wider for Kansas, 22-7, to claim a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Since the NCAA Tournament expanded to 64 (and then 68 teams), only three teams have ever claimed a one-seed with seven losses. But if the Jayhawks win out, they should have a compelling case.

“I think there are three teams that are locks to be No. 1. I think Wichita State obviously is a lock, I think Arizona is a lock and I think Florida is a lock,” Kansas coach Bill Self said on Tuesday. “You’ve got seven, eight, 10 schools probably fighting for that other No. 1 seed, and you may say there’s not that many. No, there is that many.

"If you win out and go win your league tournament there’s that many. And it may be more than that. We’re one of those teams, I think, but how we finish will determine whether or not we’ve got a shot.”

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