Preview and Game Thread: Texas vs. Texas Tech

Date: Saturday, January 2nd
Time: 1:00 pm
Good Guys: Texas Tech Red Raiders (10-1, 0-0)
Bad Guys: Texas Longhorns (8-4, 0-0)
Location: United Supermarkets Arena | Lubbock, Texas
TV/Stream: ESPNU
Radio/Stream: 93.7 FM/104.3 FM/950 AM

POINT GUARD Kennan Evans (6-3/180) 8.8 / 3.0*
SHOOTING GUARD Devaugntah Williams (6-4/205) 14.2 / 4.2
SMALL FORWARD Toddrick Gotcher (6-4/205) 11.4 / 4.7
POWER FORWARD Zach Smith (6-8/215) 10.4 / 7.0
CENTER Norense Odiase (6-9/260) 8.9 / 4.4
SIXTH MAN Aaron Ross (6-8/225) 7.1 / 5.0
SEVENTH MAN Justin Gray (6-6/210) 7.3 / 2.6
EIGHTH MAN Devon Thomas (6-0/170) 3.5 / 1.5*
POINT GUARD Isaiah Taylor (6-1/170) 14.2 / 3.9*
SHOOTING GUARD Javan Felix (5-11/195) 7.1 / 4.5
SMALL FORWARD Demarcus Holland (6-2/190) 5.0 / 4.0
POWER FORWARD Connor Lammert (6-9/240) 15.5 / 4.3
CENTER Prince Ibeh (6-10/260) 20.5 / 8.6
SIXTH MAN Tevin Mack (6-6/210) 9.7 / 4.6
SEVENTH MAN Eric Davis, Jr. (6-2/185) 4.1 / 2.5
EIGHTH MAN Kerwin Roach, Jr. (6-4/170) 2.2 / 0.5

* Assists.

1. KenPom has Texas ranked 49th overall, the 49th best adjusted offense and the 78th best adjusted defense. The Longhorns recently lost to Connecticut on the road, but they’ve also played a pretty good schedule. Texas Tech, on the other hand, is actually ranked higher, 42nd overall, 93rd in adjusted offense and 23rd in adjusted defense. I cannot recall a time when Texas Tech was in the top 25 in any KenPom rankings and I cannot recall a time when Texas Tech’s adjusted offense was in the top 100. That’s been Texas Tech’s achilles heel.

2. Texas recently lost Cameron Ridley with an injury, a foot fracture, and that’s a big deal. Ridley was averaging 13 points a game, 10 rebounds and 3.4 blocks a game. That’s a big deal and from looking at the box score against UConn, you can probably expect to see mre of Tevin Mack, who is a big guard / forward and Shaquille Cleare, a power forward who was averaging less than 10 minutes a game before Ridley’s injury.

3. The Longhorns do have quite a bit to contain in the backcourt, the always slippery Isaiah Taylor is doing quite well and always tough to contain. For once, I think that Texas Tech has a good match-up for Taylor in Keenan Evans. Evans has been good defensively and has the length to deal with Taylor, who does most of his damage in the lane. As far as the other guard is concerned, Javan Felix is hitting 50% from beyond the three-point line and I thought that this is one area that Texas Tech will have to be on point, which is guarding the guarding the three-point line. I think I might have Toddrick Gotcher guard Felix rather than Holland because I think Gotcher is a better defender than Devaugntah Williams.

4. Texas Tech has been very good as of late. As we know, Texas Tech had wins over top 100 KenPom teams in Little Rock and Richmond and there’s reason to think that this Texas Tech team is a bit different than in prior years. I’ve mentioned previously that I think the biggest difference between these teams and teams from the past few years is that the offense has always lagged behind the defense. The defense has always been pretty good, but the offense has come along recently. It’s the offense that is making the difference and I think we’re beginning to see how the offensive players are making plays rather than just struggling to even find a shot. This team is making and creating offense.

5. Head coach Tubby Smith continued to talk about how his team is improving and maturing:

“Our team is growing up, maturing and continuing to improve,” Texas Tech head coach Tubby Smith said. “This stage of the game, there’s still plenty of room for improvement. We need to continue to be patient on offense and play good, sound halfcourt defense. One of the things we’ve done is we really exposed ourselves into fullcourt pressure situations this week in practice, and that’s helped us tremendously.”

I’ll be very much interested to see how Texas Tech reacts to the fullcourt pressure. I think that’s where maybe Evans’ maturity will be ever-present, hopefully in a good way. Either way, Evans and Thomas will be key to moving the ball up the court efficiently and making sure that Texas Tech is in their offense as soon as possible.

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