Basketball

Preview and Game Thread: Minnesota vs. Texas Tech

Texas Tech takes on Tubby Smith’s former team, Minnesota, in Texas Tech’s final game game in Puerto Rico.

Date: Sunday, November 22nd
Time: 1:30 pm
Good Guys: Texas Tech Red Raiders (2-1, 0-0)
Bad Guys: Minnesota Golden Gophers (3-1, 0-0)
Location: Colieo Roberto Clemente | San Juan, Puerto Rico
TV/Stream: ESPNU
Radio/Stream: 93.7 FM/104.3 FM/950 AM

TEXAS TECH
THE STARTERS Pts / Reb
POINT GUARD Kennan Evans (6-3/180) 8.3 / 1.3*
SHOOTING GUARD Devaugntah Williams (6-4/205) 18.0 / 4.3
SMALL FORWARD Toddrick Gotcher (6-4/205) 10.0 / 4.7
POWER FORWARD Zach Smith (6-8/215) 9.0 / 5.7
CENTER Norense Odiase (6-9/260) 5.7 / 5.3
MINNESOTA
THE STARTERS Pts / Reb
POINT GUARD Nate Mason (6-1/180) 13.0 / 5.0*
SHOOTING GUARD Carlos Morris (6-5/175) 11.3 / 4.8
SMALL FORWARD Joey King (6-9/235) 17.5 / 4.3
POWER FORWARD Charles Buggs (6-9/220) 8.0 / 5.3
CENTER Bakary Konate (6-11/235) 6.8 / 3.3

* Assists.

1. Minnesota started off with a win against UMKC, nearly 20 points, a win against Louisiana Monroe and then an opening round loss in the Puerto Rico classic to Temple before winning against Missouri State. As an aside, Minnesota was 18-15 last year, 6-12 in the Big Ten.

2. Minnesota is 65th in the nation in KenPom rankings, 52nd in adjusted offense and 94th in adjusted offense. Texas Tech is 101st in KenPom rankings 115th in adjusted offense and 93rd in adjusted defense. Minnesota is obviously the better team here, significantly better on offense, but both teams appear to be similar in terms of defense.

3. Joey King again appears to be a significant match-up problem for Texas Tech. I’m not sure if he’s a small forward or a power forward, but he can certainly shoot the three-point shot. Without Justin Gray for the last game, that’s sort of a problem defensively and maybe we would see more of C.J. Williamson. That’s a pretty big frontcourt and going small won’t help combat that.

4. This is the first time that Tubby Smith has had the opportunity to play Minnesota, the team that fired him in 2013 and as a result, Texas Tech was then able to hire him. I haven’t followed Minnesota to know if this has worked out for them, but I’m still pretty confident that it has worked out for Texas Tech. It’s been a painful process, but I think that most of us saw the shape that Texas Tech was in after Billy Gillispie burned the program to the ground. I am sure that Minnesota was hoping for that young coach that would inject some life into maybe what they thought was a program that wasn’t progressing enough.

5. I think this is going to be a tough out for Texas Tech. I think the weakness of the Texas Tech defense are the guards, sans Toddrick Gotcher who is a good defender. That is one thing that Robert Turner did last year, which is play some pretty tough defense on the point guard. In this case, I think the main responsibility of stopping Minnesota will be left on the guards, while I think the front court will need to do their best to take advantage of their abilities.

UPDATE:

Hey everyone, I traded questions with Steve at From The Barn, a Minnesota Golden Gopher blog, about the game and just received my responses from Steve — posted below. Here are my answers with Steve.

1. What are some match-ups that you think Minnesota can take advantage of with Texas Tech?

Honestly, not many. Minnesota has been terrible at rebounding so far this season, and it’s even lost them a game already. They have no size, and their one true center hasn’t shown that he can handle extended minutes. The Gophers really only have one true strength, which is the speed of their guards, but I think that’s somewhat neutralized by Texas Tech. Jordan Murphy will hopefully present some matchup problems. A true freshman small forward, he’s shown a real ability to be effective both inside and out so far this season, so I think there could be an element of surprise there.

2. Who are two players for Minnesota that we should watch and the best part of their game?

I mentioned Jordan Murphy above. He won’t be flashy on the court and you’ll barely know he’s playing, but then you’ll look up and all of sudden he has 10 points. He’s shown a nice ability to bang down low, but also step out and shoot a three.

Our best player right now is Joey King, one of only two seniors on the team. He won’t kill you with size and he’s the opposite of quick, but he knows how to get the ball in the hoop. He’s a small forward trapped in a power forward’s body, so he has the ability to knock down a three. He’s been scoring an uncharacteristically high pace this year, though, and I’m not sure when that will revert back to the mean.

3. On a scale of 1-10, how happy are you with the transition to Richard Pitino?

I’m very patient with new coaching staffs, so I understand the years of rebuilding that would be required when he came on. Kind of unfortunately, he performed at such a high level his first season that he’s now set the expectations bar a little higher than he can live up to this early in his tenure. He’s got amazing recruits coming in the next couple years, but year 3 is looking pretty daunting, so at this point I’d say I’d rate the transition an 8 so far.

4. How do you think the game will play out today? Who wins and why?

I’m taking the Gophers by 4, 60-56. Like each game so far, they’ll build a lead and then squander it away with sloppy play. I think Texas Tech brings things closer down the stretch but can’t quite pull it off.

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