When Texas Tech began turning heads early in Big 12 play, leading scorer Terrence Shannon was dealing with an injury and did not play.
Now, with Shannon healthy and coming off a season-best 23 points, the No. 18 Red Raiders (15-4, 5-2 Big 12) have a rematch with one of the elite teams they knocked off earlier, visiting No. 7 Kansas (16-2, 5-1) on Monday night in Lawrence, Kan.
"I won't say I'm all the way back. I'm still finding my rhythm. I'm trying to let the game come to me and I feel like I did a better job at this game," said Shannon, who sat out seven games and finally regained his rhythm with a 7-for-12 effort in a victory Saturday over West Virginia.
Texas Tech continues to chase first-place Kansas, which rallied from a 17-point second-half deficit to win 78-75 Saturday against last-place Kansas State in what has become an incredibly deep conference.
Texas Tech coach Mark Adams admitted "I was excited we got such a big game" out of Shannon, particularly after judging that his squad looked "tired and frustrated" at times grinding out the win over the rugged Mountaineers.
Shannon, who averages a team-best 12.8 points as part of a balanced attack, said the time off renewed his spirit.
"When you're sitting and watching it and can't play, you realize how much basketball means to you. Not being able to play, that's a lot of my life," Shannon said.
As for the grit of his teammates, "We're jelling pretty good. Nobody's selfish. Everybody just wants to win," Shannon said. The Red Raiders allow 59.1 points on 37.8 percent shooting and boast four double-digit scorers.
Kansas also happens to jell reasonably well. The Jayhawks used a career-high 29 points from the Big 12's top scorer, Ochai Agbaji (20.4), and a 45-23 advantage on the glass to maintain their slim conference lead by edging Kansas State, a team that has defeated Texas Tech.
After watching the Jayhawks perfect a late switch to a triangle-and-two defense that did not yield any points over the final three minutes, Kansas coach Bill Self described the comeback in Manhattan as a potential "statement win" for the Jayhawks.
The intense rally came just two days after the death of Self's father, a longtime high school activities administrator in Oklahoma.
"I haven't been real impressed with our team's competitive spirit at times in key moments, and our toughness," said Self, "but there's no way I can complain about any of that. We might not have played well, but we played tough."
David McCormack and Jalen Wilson added double-doubles for the Jayhawks, while combining for 29 points and 25 rebounds. Agbaji and Wilson netted 24 and 20 points in the previous meeting against Texas Tech on Jan. 8, though McCormack played just 13 minutes and scored four points.
Bryson Williams posted 22 points and eight boards to pace Texas Tech, which forced 17 turnovers in the first meeting.
--Field Level Media