Texas Tech Men’s Basketball Preview: No. 9 Oklahoma

NORMAN, Okla. – The No. 8 Texas Tech men’s basketball embarks team on a challenging week where the Red Raiders will face a pair of Top 10 opponents starting with No. 9 Oklahoma at the Lloyd Noble Center on Tuesday.

 

Tipoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. CT, and the game will be televised by ESPNU along with the ESPN app. Clay Matvick and Tim Welsh will serve as the announcing team.

 

The Red Raiders (14-1, 3-0 Big 12) head into Tuesday’s action tied for first place with No. 2 West Virginia, while Oklahoma (12-2, 2-1 Big 12) is joined by Kansas in a two-way tie for third place in the Big 12 standings.

 

Texas Tech has won its first three Big 12 games by a combined 52 points and are 3-0 in Big 12 play for the second time in program history. The Red Raiders also accomplished the feat in 2003-04 under Bob Knight when Chris Beard was an assistant coach.

Vaulting up the polls:

Texas Tech vaulted up 10 spots to No. 8 in both the Associated Press and USA Top 25 polls. The ranking is the second-highest in program history and the highest mark for the Red Raiders since being ranked No. 7 on March 4, 1996.

 

Tuesday’s meeting is the 62nd with the Sooners where Oklahoma has compiled a 38-23 advantage. The home team has won the last six matchups. Texas Tech was the last road team to win when it came away with a 68-60 victory on Feb. 12, 2014.

 

The Sooners were handed an 89-76 setback by then No. 6 West Virginia last time out. Oklahoma picked up a 90-89 win over then No. 10 TCU followed by a 109-89 rout of Oklahoma State. The two programs have one common nonconference opponent in Northwestern. The Red Raiders notched an 85-49 win on Nov. 19 whereas the Sooners claimed a 104-78 decision on Dec. 22.

 

“What I do like about our team is that we are playing together,” Beard said. “We are an unselfish team that’s playing hard. We are being aggressive. We are buying into some things on the defensive end that Coach Adams, and our staff want done. We are trying to play the game offensively like we want done. We do play well enough to win, but we have to validate it by trying to put ourselves in a position to win the next game.”

 

ABOUT TEXAS TECH

The Red Raiders continue to headline the Big 12 conference and hold Top 5 national rankings in scoring defense (59.2 – 4th), field goal percentage defense (37.3 – 5th) and scoring margin (+21.9 – 3rd). Texas Tech also is rated among the NCAA’s Top 40 in six additional categories which include steals per game (9.1 – 11th) and rebounding margin (+8.5 – 15th).

 

Keenan Evans collected his second Big 12 Player of the Weeks award of the season on Monday. He joined Cory Carr (1996-97, 1997-98) and Andre Emmett (2003-04) as the only players in program history to win multiple Big 12 Player of the Week honors in the same season. Evans rattled home 21.0 points, 4.0 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.5 steals per game last week and racked up 16 of his 27 points over the last 11:30 of the second half against Kansas State.

 

Texas Tech’s bench is tops in the Big 12 with 587 points at a 39.1 per game clip over the first 15 games, and the Red Raiders have outscored their Big 12 foes by a 118-33 margin.

 

Zhaire Smith (10. 7 PPG) Jarrett Culver (10.3 PPG) and Davide Moretti (5.5 PPG) have made strong contributions as freshmen. Smith has pieced together 10 straight games in double figures en route to 12.4 points per game. He is only the second freshman in program history to have a 10-game streak in doubles figures and joins former All-American Rick Bullock in 1972-73.

 

Culver has notched double figures seven times which included a 12-point game at then No. 10 Kansas whereas Moretti has tallied at least five points in 10 of 15 games.

Niem Stevenson has worked his way to 7.9 points, 3.0 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game. He has dished out 18 assists against five turnovers in his last seven appearances. Stevenson has secured double figures eight times and opened Big 12 action with 11 points against then No. 18 Baylor.

 

Zach Smith has done a little bit of everything with 6.5 points, 3.9 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 1.1 blocks per game. He heads into Tuesday’s matchup 12 points away from reaching 1,000 for his career and 13 blocks shy of Tony Battie’s program record.

 

Tommy Hamilton IV and Brandone Francis have managed 6.1 points and 4.5 points per game, respectively. Francis has put forth back-to-back games with seven points, while Hamilton IV has upped his marks to 6.6 points and 3.8 rebounds per game over his last eight games off the bench.

 

Justin Gray and Norense Odiase complete Texas Tech’s 10-man rotation with 5.9 and 4.7 points per game. Gray has knocked down 238 of his 426 two-point attempts, and both players tacked on season’s highs with 12 points during the Kansas game.

ABOUT OKLAHOMA

The Sooners high-octane offense has piled up a nation’s best 94.4 points per game and already eclipsed the century mark five times all coming inside the Lloyd Noble Center.

 

Trae Young has amassed a nation’s leading 29.4 points and 10.2 assists per game. The son of former Texas Tech guard Rayford Young has garnered 20-plus points in 13 consecutive games highlighted by a 43-point outburst versus Oregon on Nov. 26 and a 39-point effort at TCU in his Big 12 debut. Young has hit 54 of his 120 field goals on three’s and already attempted 137 free throws.

 

Christian James has added 12.6 points per game and knocked down 29 treys of his own. He has secured 10-plus points in 12 of 14 games. James registered 19 points apiece during the Southern Cal and Northwestern games.

 

Brady Manek has picked up 11.0 points per game and drained 29 triples on the season. He has chipped in a trio of 20-point performances sparked by a career-best 28 points versus Oklahoma State. Manek also provided 21 points against Wichita State.

 

Oklahoma’s top options off the bench are Kameron McGusty and Jamuni McNeace who has garnered 9.9 and 7.1 points per game, respectively. He has found his rhythm off late with six straight games in double figures after not reaching double figures in his first eight outings. McGusty racked up a season-high 22 points at TCU.

 

Khadeem Lattin has been solid on both ends of the floor with 7.7 points and 1.8 blocks per game. He has turned in four games in double figures and filled the box score with eight points, eight rebounds and four assists during the Oklahoma State game.

 

“Oklahoma has got a good team,” Beard said. “They’ve got really good players, and I think Trae Young would be the first to tell you that. It’s not just a one man show. We have all sorts of issues in this game. We are going to have to stop their three-point shooting. We are going to have to stop their inside game. We are going to have to make them uncomfortable at times in the game. It’s a lot easier to talk about it than to do it, but we are trying to do everything we can to put our players in situations where we can have some success. We know how difficult this game is going to be. I think Oklahoma is not only one of the better teams in the Big 12, but I think they are one of the best teams in college basketball. Again, it starts with their coach, and they have really good players.”

 

UP NEXT

Texas Tech welcomes No. 2 West Virginia to the United Supermarkets Arena to cap a stretch of four Top 25 opponents in its first five Big 12 contests. Tipoff is on-tap for 1 p.m. CT, and the game will be televised by ESPN along with the ESPN app.

 

 

—TECH—

 

 

MATT DUNAWAY

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