Hogs Must Match Tech's Physical Play

FAYETTEVILLE -- Pat Knight, the associate head coach of Texas Tech and son of Tech coach Bob Knight, sometimes stands in for his dad at media functions.

Here's what Pat Knight said about the Red Raiders during the most recent Big 12 media teleconference, a couple of weeks ahead of tonight's Arkansas-Texas Tech game in the American Airlines Center at Dallas.

"Not having Ronald Ross, who was such a strong leader last year, our coaching staff has had to do all the motivating this year," Pat Knight said. "We need guys to talk and speak up. It can be two or three guys."

Two guys, Tech guards Jarrius Jackson and Martin Zeno, have led to the tune of 18.5 and 16.3 points per game respectively. Jackson and Zeno scored 22 points each in an 84-73 loss at Nevada-Las Vegas last Saturday.

Two other guys, Tech freshmen Dior Lawhorn (6-foot-7) and Terry Martin (6-5), have had the typical ups and downs of youth.

"In high school, they could play lazy and still overpower guys," Pat Knight said. "But now you need intensity all the time. We're just going to go with them and let them learn on the fly. They'll learn more that way than when you just take them in and out."

Against UNLV, Martin scored four points in 25 minutes. Lowhorn also started, but played just 11 minutes and had two points.

Jonathan Plefka, a 6-8, 241-pound junior forward who had not been expected to play against UNLV, ended up scoring eight points in 27 minutes as the Red Raiders' fifth substitute that night.

Darryl Dora, 6-9, had also been hurting but he played 18 minutes as the sixth sub against UNLV.

Texas Tech is just 6-5 this season, but Bob Knight is building his team for the long haul. He played five freshmen on Saturday.

Arkansas (8-2) is also young inside but very experienced on the perimeter.

On paper, the Hogs would seem to have an edge.

But tonight's game will be mostly about which team can impose its will on the other, and the physical aspect is a big part of that.

Call it a gut check.

Anyone wishing to drive the lane against Texas Tech must be willing to pay the consequences. Anyone seeking a rebound must be willing to earn it.

"We've played a lot of great teams, but we really haven't faced a team equivalent to Southeastern Conference teams, with big, physical post players," said Arkansas guard Ronnie Brewer. "So it's hard to evaluate us right now."

Brewer, who leads Arkansas with 20.1 points and 3.3 steals per game, took a physical pounding from Missouri State but still made the key plays at the end of that 79-75 Arkansas win.

Brewer has not been reluctant to drive this season, but he hasn't always finished the shots in traffic that could have resulted in three-point plays. He has, however, made 41 of 59 free throws for 71.9 percent.

Hogs coach Stan Heath has called this game a "home neutral for Texas Tech and an away neutral for us."

Arkansas fans had bought 4,000-plus tickets as of last week.

"We've had a mission to create a game in Dallas," Heath said. "There's a lot of (UA) support there and it's a great place to go. It sounded great at the time, but now we've got to play the game."

Heath said the Red Raiders have struggled with injuries this season, but he said, "They're fundamentally sound, and great with their motion offense. I think we'll learn a thing or two from them."

Bob Knight, with his three national titles (at Indiana), brings his own aura to any game, but Heath and the Hogs have tried to downplay that aspect.

"It wouldn't be very smart for our guys to play coach Knight," Heath said. "They could probably beat him one-on-one on the court, but he's not playing. Maybe before the game they'll say hello or look at him."

Brewer said, "I'm not saying (Knight) is not a great coach -- his record shows that -- but it would be kind of difficult to play against him if you're watching him coach his team.

"We've got to look at Texas Tech like any other team. We want to extend our (six-game winning) streak, and this game is important for postseason."




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