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Jan 12, 2024 4:57 pm

Kansas State, Texas Tech put strong starts to the test

Last season’s surprise team from the Big 12 Conference collides with one of the league’s emerging surprises this season when Kansas State visits Texas Tech on Saturday at Lubbock, Texas.

The Wildcats and Red Raiders are both 2-0 in Big 12 play and tied with Baylor for the early conference lead.

Kansas State coach Jerome Tang and first-year Texas Tech coach Grant McCasland were fellow assistants at Baylor so there will be plenty of familiarity.

Kansas State (12-3, 2-0 Big 12) has won nine of its past 10 games and has received major contributions from three transfers: Cam Carter (Mississippi State), Arthur Kaluma (Creighton) and Tylor Perry (North Texas). That trio is combined for 47.0 points and 16.2 rebounds per game. Perry’s 5.3 assists rank fifth in the league.

“In our league, you can’t just play at a super slow pace, you’ve got to try and get transition points, you’ve got to take shots, when they’re available,” Tang said. “The defenses in our league are just way too good to try and grind that down to the end of the shot clock and get a shot off.

“What I know about Grant is he’s going to do whatever it takes to win. … He is always thinking, ‘How does this convert to winning games?'”

The Red Raiders (13-2, 2-0) share the ball well and limit turnovers, doing so particularly well during a winning streak that reached eight games with a 90-73 romp against Oklahoma State on Tuesday. Texas Tech had a season-low four turnovers and logged 17 assists.

“Our guys have gotten more connected as the season has gone on and really love sharing the ball, and that’s important because that’s the way great teams have success,” McCasland said.

Since shaking off an early shooting slump, Texas Tech’s Pop Isaacs has scored 21 points or more in each of the past four games, with 24 against Oklahoma State. Over that span, Isaacs is 32 of 63 (50.8 percent) from the floor and 15 of 29 (51.7 percent) from 3-point range.

The Red Raiders are averaging 87.3 points a game and their 90 points on Tuesday marked their highest-scoring conference game since Jan. 24, 2022.

“He’s a bucket and he loves the game of basketball,” Tang said of Isaacs. “You can just see it in how he plays. Whenever he touches the ball, you have to be locked in.”

–Field Level Media

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