Preview and Game Thread: NCAA Tournament Round 2 | Florida vs. Texas Tech

The Red Raiders take on the Gators in Round 2 of the NCAA Tournament.

Game Info

Date: Saturday, March 17th
Time: 7:40 pm
Good Guys: Texas Tech Red Raiders (25-9, 11-7)
Bad Guys: Florida Gators (21-12, 11-7)
Location: American Airlines Center | Dallas, Texas
TV/Stream: TNT
Radio/Stream: 97.3 FM/104.3 FM/950 AM


POINT GUARD Keenan Evans (6-3/190) 17.7 / 3.2*
SHOOTING GUARD Jarrett Culver (6-5/190) 11.5 / 4.8
SMALL FORWARD Zhaire Smith (6-5/195) 11.1 / 4.8
POWER FORWARD Justin Gray (6-6/210) 5.0 / 3.5
CENTER Norense Odiase (6-9/245) 4.0 / 4.7
SIXTH FORWARD Zach Smith (6-8/220) 6.1 / 3.8
SEVENTH MAN Niem Stevenson (6-6/205) 7.5 / 3.1
EIGHTH MAN Brandone Francis (6-5/205) 5.3 / 2.0
NINTH MAN Davide Moretti (6-3/165) 3.4 / 1.2*
TENTH MAN Tommy Hamilton IV (6-11/250) 5.7 / 3.1
ELEVENTH MAN Josh Webster (6-4/175) 0.3/ 0.8*
TWELTH MAN Malik Ondigo (6-10/210) 1.2 / 0.8
POINT GUARD Chris Chiozza (6-0/175) 11.1 / 6.2*
SHOOTING GUARD KeVaughn Allen (6-2/193) 11.1 / 2.3
SMALL FORWARD Jalen Hudson (6-6/192) 15.3 / 3.9
POWER FORWARD Egor Koulechov (6-5/205) 13.8 / 6.5
CENTER Kevarrius Hayes (6-9/225) 4.8 / 5.0
SIXTH MAN Keith Stone (6-8/245) 8.9 / 4.2
SEVENTH MAN Dontay Bassett (6-9/240) 1.8 / 1.6
EIGHTH MAN Gorjok Gak (6-11/225) 2.3 / 2.4
NINTH MAN Deaundrae Ballard (6-5/195) 3.8 / 1.8

* Assists.

Starting 5

1. KenPom. KenPom has Florida ranked as the 21st best team in the nation, 40th in AdjO and 20th in AdjD. Texas Tech moved down a spot, 13th overall, 48th in AdjO and 3rd in AdjD.

2. Stats. Via RealGM, Texas Tech is a slightly better in three of these four categories and we’ll start with shooting, Texas Tech is a 53% eFG shooting team to 51% for Florida. Texas Tech grabs offensive boards at 32% compared to 28% for Florida, while the Red Raiders shoot free throws at 28% compared to 24% for the Gators. And Florida has an advantage in turning the ball over, 12% for Florida and 16% for Texas Tech.

3. Scouting. The best player on the team is really Chiozza, crazy efficient assist rate, over 36% for Chiozza, while Koulechov and Hudson are a really fantastic players offensively, particularly at scoring. Hudson has a sligtly higher usage rate (which makes sense given the slightly higher scoring average), but the reality is that those three players drive the team on the offensive side of the ball. The good news for Texas Tech is that Zach is back and this maybe could not come at a better time. It was incredibly frustrating to watch Texas Tech on Thursday seemingly be turned away at the rim by Lumberjacks that really weren’t all that much bigger than Texas Tech, 6’8″ or 6’7″. But Zach completely changed the dynamic of the team on offense and on defense. The offense was seemingly not competent when he wasn’t on the floor because Zach provided a threat to score and the defense was significantly better defensively because he was a real threat.

4. Reading Material.

  • A-J Media’s Carlos Silva, Jr. – Junior guard’s clutch 3-pointer fueled late surge against Stephen F. Austin:

    “I’m just ready to compete,” Francis said Friday. “Do whatever my team needs me to do. Go out there, have fun, enjoy the game. I know they have a great team over there. And we’re just trying to go out there and do the best we can and hopefully come out victorious.”

    A couple of years ago, Francis was donning a Gators uniform and appeared in 29 games, making two starts, as a redshirt freshman in 2015-16. He sat out his freshman year while working to become academically eligible, and also saw his playing time diminish. He elected to transfer and found his future landing spot in Lubbock.

    “I don’t feel comfortable talking about that, but it was a decision that — it happens,” Francis said when asked about his leaving Florida. “I’m a Red Raider, and I’m happy to be here. I love Texas Tech. I love Lubbock. Really thankful and grateful for the opportunity coach (Chris) Beard gave me.”

  • Daily Commericial’s Kevin Brockway – Gators face hostile crowd, talented Texas Tech team Saturday:

    Last year, as a four seed, Florida rode the momentum of a partisan crowd in Orlando to a 65-39 win over five seed Virginia in the Round of 32. This time around, UF finds itself as the pseudo road team.

    “There’s no advantage to it for us, obviously,” Florida coach Mike White said. “But we’ve got to deal with it and we’ve done it before. I don’t think any team in the country is more battle-tested than we are over the last two years, considering what we’ve had to go through last year with the renovations to Exactech Arena. We’ve played a ton of games away from home.”

  • Orlando Sentinal’s Chris Hays – NCAA Tournament: Interior defense key for Gators against Texas Tech:

    In fact, Florida coach Mike White said it would be shortsighted to think that the importance of the Gators’ halfcourt defense rests solely with the guards out front, especially given Texas Tech’s propensity for getting to the paint.

    “Kevarrius, Dontay Bassett and Gorjok Gak, Keith Stone and Egor Koulechov, there’s going to be a lot of pressure on those guys to defend [inside] without fouling,” White said. “Texas Tech lives at the foul line, lives at the rim, not only with penetration and with post touches, but they’re one of the best cutting teams that we’ve played this year. … Good passing team. … I think the speed and quickness allows them to be a good cutting team.”

  • The Florida Times-Union’s Phillip Heilman – Texas Tech knows talent of Florida’s Egor Koulechov entering NCAA Tournament showdown:

    Now a key member of the sixth-seeded Gators, Koulechov will try to continue his hot start to the NCAA Tournament against the third-seeded Red Raiders with a trip to the Sweet 16 on the line at 8:40 p.m. Saturday in Dallas’ American Airlines Center.

    “We know how good he is,” Beard said. “He’s actually one of my favorite players [to watch]. We still talk about his shot fake today. We call it the Rice shot fake. Now we’ll call it the Florida shot fake.”

    Talking about Koulechov is one thing. Containing him is another, and Texas Tech did a poor job of that during a tense 85-84 victory in December 2016. Koulechov scored 25 points on 8-of-14 shooting — including five 3-pointers — and added six rebounds and three assists. The Red Raiders escaped only after making three foul shots with two seconds remaining in regulation.

5. Official Site. The official site’s official preview has head coach Chris Beard discuss his respect for the Gators:

“Just pleased to advance,” Texas Tech head coach Chris Beard said. “You know, really proud of our players. You work so hard, and these games are so hard to win. They really don’t define a season. A lot of really good basketball teams, championship basketball teams, will leave this tournament at some point, but for us, it’s just a deal where we want to try to live another day as a team that enjoys being around each other in practice and games, so we just feel fortunate to advance to the second round. Our respect for Florida and their program and their coach couldn’t be any higher. This is one of the best offensive teams in college basketball, the three-point shooting. They’re a really good defensive team that gets a lot of steals and turns you over. They have a coach that’s one of the best coaches in college basketball. His teams play hard. They don’t beat themselves. I think they’ve been to the Elite 8 like the last four or five times they’ve been in this tournament. They have our full respect and full attention. From our standpoint, we think we’re going to have to play the best game of the season tomorrow. That’s our approach, and that’s our objective.”


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