Kansas State’s upcoming basketball game against Texas Tech appears more challenging than usual.
Most years, United Supermarkets Arena ranks among the easiest road assignments in the Big 12. The Red Raiders are usually near the bottom of the conference standings and their fans show up in limited numbers. But this is a new year and a new, much improved, Texas Tech basketball team.
“They are a scary team,” K-State junior forward Dean Wade said. “They are athletic, they are fast, they rebound hard — all five of them rebound — they have got some depth there on the bench, and they are playing great right now. Hopefully we can go in there and play good and see what happens.”
How good has Texas Tech been this season?
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As of this moment, they are arguably the team to beat in the Big 12. The No. 18 Red Raiders (13-1, 2-0 Big 12) have looked dominant in their first two conference games, annihilating Baylor 77-53 and then beating Kansas 85-73 on the road.
Senior guard Keenan Evans is one of the best players in the Big 12, if not the nation, and coach Chris Beard is pushing all the right buttons.
K-State still has to play at Kansas, Oklahoma, TCU and West Virginia this season, but a 3 p.m. tip at Texas Tech on Saturday might be the Wildcats’ most daunting game on the schedule.
“They are good,” K-State coach Bruce Weber said. “They are really good. Last week, everyone said ‘Oklahoma, oh they are the favorite.’ And now it’s Texas Tech. It was TCU, maybe, before that. It just shows the good depth of the league and how anyone can win. West Virginia has won 12 in a row.
“(Texas Tech) has older guys that have been through it. They have added some freshmen that have great motors that really defend and play hard. They have a good mixture of guys.”
The Wildcats (11-3, 1-1) will try to hand the Red Raiders their first conference loss. It won’t be easy, but they might be the more motivated team.
Texas Tech is riding high, and there is no ignoring the next game on the schedule — a road tilt with freshman sensation Trae Young and Oklahoma. This is a classic trap game for the home team, and Beard knows it.
He wants them focused on K-State, not anyone else.
“We really haven’t done anything yet,” Beard said. “We were sitting here last year in this league in good position with a couple great wins against top 25 teams. We were 2-2 and then we got beat at home. For me, this race doesn’t even start until February. We are all just jockeying for position right now. We are pleased to have gotten a couple wins on the board, but we understand it’s a long season.”
Kellis Robinett: @kellisrobinett