Texas Tech did something Saturday night it hadn’t done since 2009.
It beat the Kansas Jayhawks in Lubbock, Texas.
The No. 14 Red Raiders used stingy defense and a barrage of three-pointers to win their fifth straight game, taking down the No. 12 Jayhawks 91-62 in front of a rowdy and loud crowd at United Supermarkets Arena. Texas Tech’s point total is the most it has scored in Big 12 play this season.
Texas Tech (22-5; 10-4 Big 12) led wire-to-wire, starting the game out with a 21-10 lead. That margin would eventually grow to 33 points, as it seemed like Kansas (20-7; 9-5 Big 12) just couldn’t do anything right.
S T A T E M E N T. 😤 pic.twitter.com/X2cuJuNVmU— Texas Tech Basketball (@TexasTechMBB) February 24, 2019
Even when the Jayhawks strung together a few runs, the Red Raiders kept them at a comfortable distance by connecting on shots from behind the arc. Texas Tech shot 61.5 percent from 3-point land, and a total of six Red Raiders flushed at least two shots from outside.
The Red Raiders have been on a bit of a tear when it comes to 3-point shooting, making 12 against Oklahoma State and Baylor, and 10 against Oklahoma. Texas Tech connected on 16 shots from outside on Saturday, a season-high mark.
Big night from Culver
Red Raiders sophomore guard Jarrett Culver looked like a man among boys at times Saturday night. The 6-5 homegrown talent from Lubbock poured in 26 points, two rebounds and four assists.
Culver is third in the Big 12 in scoring with 17.7 points per-game and has established himself as Texas Tech’s go-to option on offense. He’s shooting 34 percent from three-point range on the season, but has improved from that distance recently, knocking down eight of his last 19 attempts from that range for a 42.2 percent clip.
JUICED. pic.twitter.com/P21AoZa7VR— Texas Tech Basketball (@TexasTechMBB) February 24, 2019
A well-rounded contributor, Culver is also averaging 6.3 rebounds and 3.7 assists on the season while knocking down 69 percent of his free throws.
In addition to Culver, Matt Mooney added 13 points and six assists, Davide Moretti chipped in 11 points, four rebounds and five assists.
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Defense key for Texas Tech
The Red Raiders entered this game with one of the best defenses in the country, holding opponents to a Division I best 36.1 percent shooting percentage from the floor. Texas Tech also ranks second in the country in points allowed per-game, giving up 57.2 on average, and fourth in three-point defense, holding opponents to just a 27.6 percent clip from outside.
On Saturday, the Red Raiders’ recipe for success was no different.
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Texas Tech smothered Kansas from the jump, forcing them into four turnovers in the first six minutes of the game. That helped the Red Raiders jump out to an 11-point lead to start the game off.
In all, Kansas coughed up possession 13 times, missed 12 three-pointers and shot 45.8 percent from the floor. Texas Tech tallied up five steals, two blocks, and won the rebounding battle 31-23. Texas Tech also racked up 13 points off turnovers and 11 second-chance points.
Tariq Owens and Norense Odiase had big nights patrolling the paint, combining for 16 rebounds, two blocks and 18 points. Owens was 11th in the country in blocked shots entering this contest and has tallied at least one block in every game this season.
Big 12 picture
Kansas has won at least a share of the Big 12 regular season title every year since 2005. But the chances of them doing that for a 15th straight season are slimmer after Saturday night’s result.
The loss puts Kansas in third place in the Big 12 standings with a 9-5 mark, tied with Baylor. Texas Tech is ahead in second place with a 10-4 mark, and Kansas State is in first place with an 11-3 record in Big 12 play.
This game was just the sixth time since 1959 that Kansas had lost to Texas Tech. The Jayhawks have owned the series with a 35-6 all-time record against the Red Raiders. But Kansas isn’t very good on the road this season, posting a 2-7 record away from Allen Fieldhouse.
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The Jayhawks do have a chance to make up ground though. On Monday, they host No. 23 Kansas State — who hasn’t won at Kansas since 2006 — and the Jayhawks still have unranked Oklahoma State, Oklahoma and Baylor left on their schedule. However, two of those games are on the road.
Texas Tech will likely be rooting for Kansas on Monday. If the Jayhawks can knock the Wildcats off their throne, the Red Raiders will have a chance to grab the top spot.
Mitchell Northam is a graduate of Salisbury University. His work has been featured at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Orlando Sentinel, SB Nation, FanSided, USA Today and the Delmarva Daily Times. He grew up on Maryland's Eastern Shore and is now based in Durham, N.C.