Basketball

Preview and Game Thread: Little Rock vs. Texas Tech

Texas Tech takes on an undefeated Little Rock Trojan team, who is led by former Texas Tech assistant, Chris Beard.

Date: Tuesday, December 22nd
Time: 2:00 pm
Good Guys: Texas Tech Red Raiders (8-1, 0-0)
Bad Guys: Little Rock Trojans (10-0, 0-0)
Location: United Supermarkets Arena | Lubbock, Texas
TV/Stream: FOX Sports Southwest
Radio/Stream: 93.7 FM/104.3 FM/950 AM

TEXAS TECH
THE STARTERS Pts / Reb
POINT GUARD Kennan Evans (6-3/180) 8.8 / 3.0*
SHOOTING GUARD Devaugntah Williams (6-4/205) 14.9 / 4.4
SMALL FORWARD Toddrick Gotcher (6-4/205) 11.3 / 4.8
POWER FORWARD Zach Smith (6-8/215) 10.2 / 6.4
CENTER Norense Odiase (6-9/260) 9.2 / 4.8
THE BENCH Pts / Reb
SIXTH MAN Aaron Ross (6-8/225) 7.3 / 5.2
SEVENTH MAN Justin Gray (6-6/210) 7.3 / 2.4
EIGHTH MAN Devon Thomas (6-0/170) 3.6 / 1.6*
LITTLE ROCK
THE STARTERS Pts / Reb
POINT GUARD Josh Hagins (6-1/180) 12.2 / 5.1*
SHOOTING GUARD Kemy Osse (6-1/208) 5.0 / 2.6
SMALL FORWARD Jermaine Ruttley (6-3/200) 11.6 / 4.9
POWER FORWARD Maurius Hill (6-5/220) 4.3 / 3.3
CENTER Lis Shoshi (6-11/210) 7.1 / 4.3
THE BENCH Pts / Reb
SIXTH MAN Marcus Johnson, Jr. (5-11/175) 15.0 / 2.2
SEVENTH MAN Roger Woods (6-5/230) 6.4 / 3.0
EIGHTH MAN Jalen Jackson (6-6/195) 9.1 / 1.7

* Assists.

1. KenPom has Little Rock as the 59th best team in teh nation, with a near mirror image of what Texas Tech is, i.e. a lackluster offense and terrific defense. Little Rock is 146th in adjusted offense and 19th in adjusted defense. Texas Tech is just one spot below Little Rock, coming in at #60 overall with an adjusted offense of 112th and adjusted defense at 32nd overall. This is about as evenly matched as you’ll get.

2. Having never watched Little Rock play, I’d bet you see a screen heavy team, much like Bob Knight used to run and they’ll get you on the backdoor stuff and make you play honest defense. It’s not at all a surprise that Chris Beard is having the success he is at Little Rock as he followed Bob Knight all over the place and he was incredibly well thought of as an assistant. He also stood by Pat Knight during Pat’s tenure and that had to have been tough. It’s good to see him have success and on his own. It should also be mentioned that Mark Adams is an assistant coach for Beard, who is the former staffer for Texas Tech and the father of Luke Adams.

3. The Trojans have a deep team, although they aren’t very big. I’d like to think that Texas Tech might have an advantage there. Johnson may be the best player and it appeared that he came off the Bench for Little Rock the last time out. Also, Soshi was one of the players that Texas Tech was recruiting the last cycle and Lis ended up choosing Little Rock. Soshi wouldn’t have started at Texas Tech, so he looks like he made the right call there. Head coach Tubby Smith said that the Trojans don’t make many mistakes:

“They don’t make many mistakes, and they communicate well as a team,” Smith said. “On the defense end, they do a good job of taking away your initial cuts with their switching. They really pack it in defensively and try to limit you to one shot. They have sound, fundamental defensive principals. They challenge every pass but don’t extend themselves where you can get easy baskets. Marcus Johnson, Jr. is a special player and is as quick as lightning. He can take you off the dribble, and score from anywhere. His three-point range makes him that much more dangerous. Along with Josh Hagins, those guys are a big key to their team. They are well-coached and play very unselfishly.”

4. LAJ’s Krista Pirtle talked with Toddrick Gotcher, who said that Little Rock won’t shoot the ball until late in the shot clock and Texas Tech will have to stay focused:

Offensively, Little Rock often doesn’t put up a shot up until the shot clock reads less than 10. So the Red Raider defense must stay mentally disciplined to not break down in the half court.

“Staying in a (defensive) stance for 30 seconds is the biggest key,” senior guard Toddrick Gotcher said. “Just staying focused and listening to the scouting report. We have to stay in a stance the entire time.”

5. Tubby Smith announced yesterday that C.J. Williamson is back eligible with the team, which is good news, especially when we also find out that Justin Gray tweaked his hamstring in practice on Monday. Also of note, Norense Odiase was limited in practice and is just a bit beat up. This team really can’t afford to be too dinged up going into conference play. Let’s get everyone healthy and a win.

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