No. 4 Kansas beats Texas Tech 79-42
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Texas Tech coach Chris Walker is the first to say his team was overmatched Monday night.
He said at this point in the Red Raiders’ development, they aren’t even really in a position to look at the scoreboard for success.
That was probably a good attitude to take on a night like this.
Texas Tech trailed by as many as 41 points before losing 79-42 to No. 4 Kansas on senior night.
From the opening tip, Kansas soared for alley-oop passes and dunked over the Red Raiders, who finished with their lowest point total of the season and shot 26.4 percent against the top-ranked team in the nation in field goal defense.
“I thought that we lacked a little bit of toughness that would have negated some of those things,” Walker said. “Once it starts spiraling downward, it was tough for us to come back from it and then it was just open season.”
Texas Tech had nine field goals and nine turnovers in the first half. For the game, the Red Raiders had 14 turnovers and 14 field goals. They were outrebounded for the ninth time in 10 games.
“It is hard to swallow, but it’s Kansas,” said Jordan Tolbert who led the Red Raiders with 16 points. “It’s not just any regular team.”
Kansas’ four seniors were determined not to get caught up in the emotion of their final appearance in perpetually amped-up, sold-out Allen Fieldhouse, and all four had big games.
“Today’s been kind of crazy,” said center Jeff Withey, who had 22 points and nine rebounds. “You try not to think about what’s really going on, playing for the last time in the fieldhouse. For me personally, it hasn’t really hit me. I don’t think it will for a while.”
Kevin Young had 14 points and fellow senior Travis Releford 13 added while point guard Elijah Johnson, the fourth member of the class, had seven points and 12 assists. The Jayhawks (26-4, 14-3 Big 12) took a half-game lead over No. 9 Kansas State in their quest for a ninth straight conference title.
“It’s time to rock out. It’s time to get to business, and I think we all knew that,” said Johnson, who has 22 assists the past two games. “I honestly think the reason it hasn’t hit all of us as far as this being the last (home) game is cause we’re so focused on what we’ve got to do. So we’re not dwelling on the moment. We know there’s stuff to be done. That’s where our heads are right now.”
Redshirt freshman Ben McLemore, a potential NBA lottery pick who was probably also playing his last game in Allen Fieldhouse, had 13 points.
Fueled by Young and Withey, Kansas unleashed a 19-2 run to take a 45-20 halftime lead over the outmanned Red Raiders (10-18, 3-14). Withey and McLemore combined to score the first 10 points in a 16-3 run to open the second half.
Jordan Tolbert had 16 points for Texas Tech, which lost 60-46 at home to Kansas earlier this season.
“It’s the most difficult situation probably in college basketball to come to Kansas on senior night, No. (4) in the country, a place with storied tradition and a great coach,” Walker said. “Obviously, we’re still building and it was a little tough for our guys.”
The lopsided victory was the 30th straight for Kansas in its home finale and ensured the Jayhawks of at least 26 wins for the seventh consecutive season.
Coach Bill Self was happy to see the attitude his seniors brought to their final home games. There have been years when over-emotional seniors struggled.
“Senior nights are pretty nerve-racking to me,” he said. “We’ve had some senior nights where we won but we didn’t play good cause guys are too geeked-up and everything. Sherron (Collins) didn’t make his first basket until about 10 minutes left on his senior night. But these guys were focused. It was emotional for them but they kept it pretty well in check. Of course, the fans were unbelievable.”
“It really hasn’t hit me, or any of us yet,” Releford said. “I really don’t know how to express that last moment walking off the court.”
With one regular-season game left and then the Big 12 and NCAA tournaments, the four seniors — Withey, Young, Releford and Johnson — have a combined 463 victories.
Texas Tech, losing to Kansas for the 24th time in 28 games, finished its conference road schedule 1-8.
“Kansas is a very good team,” Tolbert said. “It was obviously a little more intense because it was a top five team in the nation.”