Preview: Stanford vs. Texas Tech

Men's Hoops Editor Ray Salloom offers a closer look at Sunday night's home contest versus the Red Raiders. See who the main players are for Texas Tech, how the Cardinal match up statistically with the Red Raiders, and what Stanford will need to do to go 9-0 in the Johnny Dawkins Era.

The Stanford Cardinal (8-0) will come home on Sunday night and try to stay unbeaten on the season as they take on the Texas Tech Red Raiders (9-3) at Maples Pavilion at 7:00pm on December 28th as part of this year's edition of the Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood Series.

Stanford is coming off another tough, hard fought, yet almost wire-to-wire, victory over West Conference neighbor Santa Clara at the Leavey Center, 77-69. In that contest, the Cardinal's Landry Fields got back on track after a couple of subpar performances, scoring 18 points on 7-13 shooting, while senior guards Anthony Goods and Mitch Johnson combined for 30 points against the young Broncos backcourt , helping Stanford get their third road win of the year.

Stanford is looking to continue their momentum as their non-conference season winds down against a team they have now faced for the third season in a row. Their first matchup took place in the final Pete Newell Challenge in San Jose where the Cardinal won 70-59. Last year, Stanford made its way to the O'Reilly Red Raider Christmas Classic in Dallas and edged Texas Tech, 62-61, coming back from seven points down at the half to get the win. In that contest, Brook Lopez had 17 of his 19 points after the half for the Cardinal. The Red Raiders were led by Martin Zeno and Alan Voskuil, who were the only players in double figures for Texas Tech, scoring 14 and 13 points, respectively.

The 2008 edition of the Texas Tech Raiders are led by sophomore guard John Roberson, a 5-11 sophomore out of Plano, Texas. Roberson does a little of everything for Texas Tech, averaging 16.3 points, 6.4 assists, and 3.7 rebounds per contest. Three other players score in double figures for Tech, including the aforementioned Voskuil (14.6), now a senior in Lubbock, junior Nick Okorie (11.8), a junior college transfer from South Plains JC, and sophomore Mike Singletary (10.7), a 6-6 forward from Kingwood, Texas.

Texas Tech is coached by Pat Knight, the son of legendary coach Bobby Knight, as he tries to lead a program that was back on the rise under the tutelage of his father. So far, the Red Raiders have had a mostly successful season, but have had a couple of mind-boggling games along the way. At home in late November, Texas Tech beat East Central University (out of Ada, Oklahoma, in case you were wondering) in a "Wild West" shootout, 167-115. Three weeks later, the Red Raiders took to the road and were swept away in Beaumont by Lamar by six, 85-79, and by a resounding 28-point margin in El Paso by UTEP, 96-68. Since those two losses, Tech has rebounded to beat New Mexico and Centenary College by margins of eight and 14, respectively.

Like Santa Clara, Texas Tech has used a variety of starting lineups thus far in 2008. Of the 14 players who have had some time on the floor for the Red Raiders, 10 of them have started at least one game and only two (leading scorers Roberson and Voskuil) have played more than 30 minutes per game. However, three players (Roberson, Voskuil, and sophomore D'Walyn Roberts) have started every game this season for Texas Tech. Okorie has started in all eight games he has played in for the Red Raiders and should be back for today's game at Maples after missing almost four weeks of action due to a sprained ankle he suffered in practice following Texas Tech's game versus Wichita State.

Looking at the statistical comparisons between the two teams, Texas Tech is the better shooting team from the field (48% vs. 45%), while both teams shoot the same percentage from beyond the arc, right around 39%. Texas Tech allows opponents to shoot just 42% from the field, while Stanford opponents shoot 47%. Both squads shoot around 70% from the line, with Texas Tech at 69%, Stanford at 71%, but Stanford's number has fallen more than five percentage points due to some subpar performances against Northwestern and Santa Clara. Texas Tech outrebounds opponents by less than a rebound per game, while Stanford is being outboarded by almost two rebounds a contest. Finally, Texas Tech outscores opponents by an 86-77 margin, while Stanford, despite closer games the last three times out, is beating teams by an average score of 77-65.

To win this game, Stanford will again have to continue to shoot the ball well from beyond the arc and do a better job of defending inside the three-point line, especially against a team at potent as Texas Tech. So far this year, Stanford opponents are shooting a dismal 31% from outside the arc, but are allowing teams to make baskets at will from inside the three-point line, letting them convert at a 54% clip. With no one over 6-9 playing more than 15 minutes per game for the Red Raiders, Stanford will not have to deal with a big man who is as big and strong as John Bryant was for Santa Clara, but they better be ready to play 40 minutes of up-and-down basketball and hope that their defense can stop Texas Tech's offense on occasion to win this game on their home court and move their record to 9-0 on the year.

After playing Texas Tech, the Cardinal will turn around and play their second-to-last non-conference game of the year, taking on the America East Conference's Hartford Hawks (4-8) on Tuesday, December 30th at 7:30pm. Pac-10 Conference play begins just a few short days later as Stanford will welcome Arizona State and Arizona to Maples Pavilion for Friday/Sunday tilts as 2009 begins.

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