On February 10, Kansas suffered a 16-point defeat at Baylor and dropped a game behind a surging Texas Tech squad atop the Big 12 standings. Two weeks later, the Jayhawks have won three in a row, the Red Raiders have dropped two straight, and a win in Lubbock on Saturday would assure Bill Self and the Jayhawks at least a share of their 14th consecutive Big 12 regular season title.
The game is scheduled to start at 4:15 p.m. ET and will be broadcast on ESPN. If you don’t have cable or a cable log-in, you can watch the game live on your computer, phone or streaming device by signing up for one of the following cable-free, live-TV streaming services:
DirecTV Now: ESPN is included in each of the four main channel packages. You can sign up for a free 7-day trial no matter what package you choose, plus you can get a free Amazon Fire TV if you prepay two months. Once signed up, you can watch a live stream of ESPN on your computer via the DirecTV Now website, or on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the DirecTV Now app.
Sling TV: ESPN is included in the “Sling Orange” channel package. You can sign up for a free 7-day trial, and you can then watch ESPN live on your computer via the Sling TV website, or on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the Sling TV app.
Hulu With Live TV: If you want an extensive Netflix-like on-demand streaming library in addition to your live TV, Hulu now also offers a bundle of live channels, including ESPN. You can sign up right here, and you can then watch a live stream of ESPN on your computer via the Hulu website, or on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the Hulu app.
The Jayhawks are rolling and the Red Raiders are reeling, and it would be easy to prematurely crown the Jayhawks as Big-12 champs with the way the last two weeks have played out, but it would be a mistake to do so. That’s largely because this one is at United Supermarkets Arena in Lubbock, where Chris Beard’s squad is 16-0 with wins over Nevada, Baylor, West Virginia, Kansas State and Texas. They’re actually favored by two points.
That being said, the fate of this game hinges on the health of point guard Keenan Evans, who injured his foot in the second half of the loss against Baylor on Saturday, and then was clearly less than 100 percent during the loss against Oklahoma State on Wednesday.
During the Red Raiders’ seven-game win streak preceding his injury, Evans averaged 24.6 points in 34.1 minutes per contest. In the two defeats with him injured, he has averaged 3.0 points in 21.5 minutes per game.
You take Devonte’ (Graham) off our team, we wouldn’t be the same team,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “You take Keenan off their team, they wouldn’t be the same team. I mean, he has a chance to be the Big 12 Player of the Year. That would certainly be the case with anybody losing a player of that ability.”
Now, the Red Raiders only lost those two games–both of which were on the road–by two and eight points, respectively, so it’s not as though they can’t compete with their star. Their stingy defense, which ranks third nationally in Ken Pomeroy’s adjusted efficiency, eighth in effective field goal percentage defense and fourth in turnover percentage, will always keep them in games. But if Evans is limited, it makes the task at hand considerably more difficult.
For Kansas, even if Evans isn’t a major factor, solving that Red Raiders perimeter defense will be key. During the Jayhawks’ 85-73 home loss to Texas Tech in early January, Graham and Svi Mykhailiuk each committed five turnovers, Lagerald was 1-of-9 from the field and the team as a whole shot just 23.1 percent from deep. For a team that relies on outside shooting and efficient offense, it’s obviously tough to win when those things happen.
Mash all the preceding storylines together, and what stacks up as the best–and arguably most important–game of the day in the college basketball world.