Texas Tech beat Kansas by 29 points on Saturday, in a game that was not competitive in the beginning, middle or end. Granted, Kansas is without three of its top six players and barely resembles the team that was No. 1 in the preseason. Still, the Jayhawks appear headed for a No. 3 or No. 4 seed in the NCAA Tournament, and Texas Tech made them look like a scared high school team.
This is new.
Texas Tech (22-5) has had the NCAA’s best defense for most of the season, but only recently has it developed the ability to put a meat necklace around somebody’s neck and throw them into a lion’s den.
One month ago, Kansas State (which also has an elite defense) held Texas Tech to 45 points. Since then, the Red Raiders are averaging 77 points per game, and their KenPom offensive efficiency rating has gone from sub-100 to 47th.
Texas Tech’s last loss came at Kansas on Feb. 2. Texas Tech went 6-for-28 from the 3-point line that day. Since then, the Red Raiders are on fire. They made eight the next game against West Virginia, then 10 against Oklahoma, 12 against Oklahoma State, 12 against Baylor and 16 against KU. During their five-game win streak, the Red Raiders are averaging 80 points per game and shooting 48 percent from the 3-point line.
Under those conditions, Texas Tech is unbeatable. Those five wins came by an average margin of 25 points.
Led by a probable lottery pick in Jarrett Culver, the Red Raiders are greater than the sum of their parts.
Great enough, suddenly, to go all the way.