Texas Tech basketball is coming off its worst home loss in the history of the United Spirit Arena, so the team might relish the opportunity to leave the supposedly friendly confines of their home arena.
But in order for the Red Raiders to bounce back from the 31-point shellacking they suffered Tuesday to Texas, they are going to have to shoot the ball better.
Tech shot 39 percent from the field en route to a season-low 51 points.
However, Tech coach Pat Knight said he doesn’t know what he needs to tell his players to start making their shots.
“I can’t do anything more unless I can call (Kansas State coach) Frank (Martin) and just tell him to back off and play us four against five,” Knight said. “But still, the way our guys are shooting it right now, we may have a problem going five against four.”
Tech, one season removed from a quarterfinal appearance in the NIT, plays No. 21 Kansas State (12-5, 0-2 in Big 12 Conference play) at 12:30 p.m. Saturday in Manhattan, Kan.
The Red Raiders (8-9, 0-2) are in danger of starting 0-3 in conference play for the second consecutive year.
The Wildcats, preseason favorites to win the Big 12, have fallen on hard times, losing back-to-back Big 12 decisions to Oklahoma State and Colorado to join Tech at the bottom of the standings.
The result of the game may rest on Wildcat guard Jacob Pullen and the Red Raiders’ ability — or inability— to stop him. Knight said Pullen should be “licking his chops a little bit to get at us.”
“He’s like (Baylor guard LaceDarius) Dunn, a guy that you have to be careful - he’s a kid that can win a game all by himself,” Knight said, “and so we’re going to have to be really careful.
“Our guards have not done a good job at guarding other guards, so we’ve got to pick up our defense from the stance of perimeter play.”
Freshman Jaye Crockett said one of the biggest keys to slowing down Pullen on Saturday is help defense.
“One-on-one he’s pretty quick,” Crockett said. “He’ll get to the hole, so we’ve got to help, but we can’t let off too much on our man in the post because that will be a dunk.”
Crockett also said rebounding and assists need to get better down the stretch. Tech is going up against the 10th-ranked rebounding team in the nation in the Wildcats. He said watching film of Tech’s recent losses has opened his eyes to what needs to be done.
“I see that we give up too many easy buckets, like second-chance points, offensive boards, and that stuff, turnovers and they score,” Crockett said.