PREVIEW: How Texas Tech shutdown Lee, and how to win this time around

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Kansas State vs. TCU on Jan. 29, 2022. (Archive photo by Macey Franko | Collegian Media Group)

After a blowout loss to Iowa State Wednesday, Feb. 2, the Kansas State women’s basketball team (16-6, 6-4) will have a chance to get back on track — and get revenge — at home against Texas Tech Saturday, Feb. 5.

Texas Tech (9-11, 2-7 Big 12) is the most perplexing loss of the season so far for K-State on Jan. 15. The Red Raiders shut down Ayoka Lee and held K-State to just 45 points. It took the Wildcats nearly four minutes to score at the beginning and only scored two points in the final 11 minutes.

“Any time you let them be the aggressor coming out, they get confidence, they get energy from that,” head coach Jeff Mittie said after the loss. “We certainly didn’t do our part about showing up and winning the first five minutes of this game. We got in a hole, and they were a more confident team going forward.”

Since then, the Wildcats have been really good at home and failed to show up on the road, leading to a 6-4 league record that puts them two games back of the conference lead. Texas Tech has lost four straight since the Jan. 15 loss.

The Red Raiders are eighth in the league in scoring offense and defense. Part of that is because they’ve attempted the fewest shots per game in the conference and have the worst turnover margin in the conference at -4.

Vivian Gray and Bryn Gerlich gave K-State trouble this past time out. Gray had 23 points, and Gerlich nailed 4-6 three-point shots, scoring 16 points.

K-State struggled to get in sync in Lubbock, Texas, as the Texas Tech defense kept the ball out of Lee’s hands by denying her the ball and dropping a defender in behind her when she did get the ball.

“When you’re guarding a kid that’s so dominant on the inside, it’s really a three-pronged defensive effort,” Red Raider head coach Krista Gerlich told Texas Tech Athletics after the game. “You’ve got to have great pressure on the ball. You’ve got to have a denial on the post and not let them have a direct entry. You’ve got to have some backside help.”

Khadia Faye, the 6 foot 4 inch freshman center for Texas Tech, managed five steals in the game primarily by swiping the entry pass. Senior forward Taylah Thomas blocked three shots when K-State tried to drive the lane to free up space for Lee.

The Wildcats can count on the Red Raiders trying a similar game plan to slow Lee down, so K-State will have to find ways to force the Texas Tech to play Lee straight up or find other ways to score. The Wildcats struggled with both this season.

The game tips off at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 5, and will stream on Big 12 Now on ESPN+ with a recap on the Collegian after the game.

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Hi! I'm Nathan Enserro, an alumnus from Olathe, Kansas. I graduated in spring 2022 with a Masters in Mass Communication, and I graduated in spring 2020 with a Bachelor's of Science in strategic communications from K-State. I covered K-State sports for the Collegian for four years.