Preview and Game Thread: TCU vs. Texas Tech

Date: Tuesday, February 23th
Time: 7:00 pm
Good Guys: Texas Tech Red Raiders (17-9, 7-7)
Bad Guys: TCU Horned Frogs (11-16, 2-12)
Location: United Supermarkets Arena | Lubbock, Texas
TV/Stream: ESPNews / WatchESPN
Radio/Stream: 93.7 FM/104.3 FM/950 AM

POINT GUARD Kennan Evans (6-3/180) 8.7 / 2.7*
SHOOTING GUARD Toddrick Gotcher (6-4/205) 10.7 / 3.8
SMALL FORWARD Justin Gray (6-6/210) 8.9 / 3.7
POWER FORWARD Zach Smith (6-8/215) 9.8 / 7.1
CENTER Matthew Temple (6-9/260) 3.5 / 1.8
SIXTH MAN Aaron Ross (6-8/225) 10.1 / 4.4
SEVENTH MAN Devaugntah Williams (6-4/205) 11.1 / 3.3
EIGHTH MAN Devon Thomas (6-0/170) 2.7 / 1.4*
POINT GUARD Chauncey Collins (6-0/180) 11.0 / 1.8*
SHOOTING GUARD Malique Trent (6-2/185) 11.2 / 3.0
SMALL FORWARD Brandon Parrish (6-6/210) 8.2 / 3.6
POWER FORWARD J.D. Miller (6-8/235) 6.6 / 4.2
CENTER Vladimir Brodziansky (6-10/215) 10.0 / 4.5
SIXTH MAN Chris Washburn (6-8/240) 7.3 / 4.3
SEVENTH MAN Michael Williams (6-2/195) 4.3 / 2.1
EIGHTH MAN Devonta Abron (6-8/260) 4.8 / 3.8

* Assists.

1. KenPom has TCU ranked as the 143rd team in teh nation, 299th in adjusted offensive efficiency and 25th in adjusted defensive efficiency. That defense for TCU is no joke. In things that I didn’t think I’d ever see, part II, Texas Tech is currently 32nd overall, 35th in adjusted offense and 46th in adjusted defense. I can’t recall a time Texas Tech was ranked so high in the Ken Pom rankings.

2. TCU is currently on a 3-game losing streak, with the last win coming against Oklahoma State. TCU was blown out by West Virginia on the road, lost to Kansas State by 14 and then lost to Iowa State by 9, but TCU kept scraping and clawing to keep that game relatively close. TCU will battle and the Horned Frogs do have some interesting players. Brodziansky is an interesting player that causes problems for teams offensively and TCU should essentially be at full strength, although against Iowa State, I didn’t see where Kaviar Shepherd played and JD Miller got the start and played well.

3. That’s four conference wins in a row for Texas Tech and Texas Tech head coach Tubby Smith discussed how he is trying to keep his team grounded:

“All the credit goes to our players: for their development, for their focus and for their coachability,” Texas Tech head coach Tubby Smith said. “They stick to the game plan, and they execute the game plan. I’m really proud of how we’ve responded. We’ve tried to teach our players as my parents and my dad taught me. Moderation: Don’t get too excited, don’t get too down. Don’t get too high, don’t get too low because you’ve got a job to do. That’s what he used to say. You do your job, that’s what you’re called to do. I tell our players all the time, act like you’ve been there before. I’ve been there before, let me tell you how you’re supposed to act and how you’re supposed to respond. Like giving credit to your teammates and giving credit to the opponents. The more you give the more you’re going to receive.”

4. At this point in the year, Smith is being talked about as the Big 12 coach of the year, considering Texas Tech is in as an NCAA tournament team. The Wichita Eagle’s Kellis Robinett took a look at that very topic:

Texas Tech (17-9, 7-7 Big 12) is among the hottest teams in the country, having won four consecutive games against a difficult schedule that included ranked opponents Baylor, Iowa State and Oklahoma. Behind coach Tubby Smith, the Red Raiders appear on the way to their first NCAA Tournament since 2007. Not bad for a team expected to finish behind TCU.

“Tubby is an icon in our profession,” Kansas coach Bill Self said Monday. “It is great to see all the good things that have happened to them. They are young, so they are going to continue to get better. They have so many different guys step up and make plays. When we start talking about coach of the year, I don’t think you have to look much further than Tubby.”

If Texas Tech completes its march toward the postseason — with home games remaining against TCU and Kansas State it is favored to do so — Smith will pull off one of the most unlikely turnarounds in recent Big 12 memory. Lubbock has been a basketball wasteland since the departure of Bob Knight in 2008. Knight’s son, Pat, went 50-61. Billy Gillispie lasted one disappointing season, and an interim coach struggled the following year.

When Smith was hired in 2013, attendance was way down. He regularly coached in front of empty seats. Now, even the upper deck is full.

It’s been a rewarding process, but he continues to push for more. Right now, the NCAA Tournament is the goal.

“It would mean an awful lot,” Smith said. “I don’t think we have been to one in a number of years. It would validate these young men, who stuck it out and who have been around for a while, that their commitment to Texas Tech was the right decision. That is what it is all about.”

5. ESPN’s Joe Lunardi has Texas Tech as an 8th seed playing VCU. CBS Sports Jerry Palm has Texas Tech as a 7 seed playing Butler and USA Today has Texas Tech as a 7 seed playing Seton Hall. I don’t know how many more wins Texas Tech really needs, but I would guess that a loss to TCU would be considered as a “bad loss” and Texas Tech really doesn’t have a ton of those on their slate. I think Texas Tech needs this win as much as any on the remaining schedule.

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