Perfect Start

The Lady Raiders have rolled their way to a perfect start and a tie with Baylor atop the Big 12 Conference.

Heading into this season there was no question that the Lady Raiders roster was full of experience and talent, since 11 players returned from an NCAA Tournament squad.

With all that firepower in the starting lineup, and almost the same amount coming off the bench, Texas Tech has been able to roll its way to an 8-0 start to the 2011-2012 campaign.

This marks the second straight season that Tech head coach Kristy Curry's squad has started 8-0, and the sixth-year coach said in some areas this is the best team she has had in her tenure.

"I think it's the best team that we've had in the fact in that the balance and the depth that we have," she said. "As far as from a competitive standpoint, and the depth, and the athleticism, and the size; yes it is. And it should be at this point and time."

Not only have the No. 16/22 Lady Raiders started the season undefeated, but also have had to only really battle for a win once this season, against then-No.16 Penn State on Saturday winning 70-66, battling back from a halftime deficit.

All the other wins Tech has blown out teams, at some points embarrassing the other team such as getting a 20-1 lead against UT-Arlington on Wednesday night in the United Spirit Arena.

In the Big 12 Conference, the Lady Raiders are currently second in scoring offense and scoring margin, trailing the No.1 Baylor Bears, who are the only other undefeated squad left in the Big 12 except for Oklahoma State (4-0).

The Lady Raiders have averaged 83 points per game so far, and in their wins have been averaging those wins by a margin of 30.6 points.

Senior Kierra Mallard has led the charge for Tech averaging a double double this season with 14.9 points per game and 10.5 rebounds per game.

Right on Mallard's heels is junior Casey Morris, who broke her previous career high in points against UT-Arlington scoring 24, going 6-for-10 from 3-point range and scoring 22 of her 24 points in the first half.

Morris is the only other Lady Raider averaging double digits in scoring with 10.9 points per game.

Following their blowout victory against UTA, Morris said the team is not surprised at all at the team's start and other teams should not underestimate them.

"Not at all, I mean I think we worked hard, and we've been together for a long time," she said. "We have experience, we play like sisters, so I don't think it should be a surprise to anyone. I know we sometimes don't get as much respect as we expect to get, but that's good because we can be the underdog and prove everyone wrong.

"If they're surprised, then they can be surprised when we win, because we're not surprised at all." 

On the defensive end of the floor, the Lady Raiders have shown a relentless defense so far with a press that has been working thus far.

Junior Monique Smalls has been able to make some opponents look silly this season with 31 steals in the first eight games.

Smalls, while being able to cause turnovers, has not turned over the ball in the past three games. Leads the country in assist to turnover ratio at 7:1, Smalls has 42 assists and only six turnovers this season, which also leads the Big 12.

"We are a fast paced team, once we get the ball we just like to run and push it," Smalls said about her experience as a junior. "That is the kind of game I like to play. Being a junior now I have learned so much from Coach Curry "

The Lady Raiders schedule of course will get tougher as the season progresses, and of course when Big 12 play comes around, considering the defending National Champs call the Big 12 home.

But back to the impressive start the team has had Curry said with the group of players that she has put together the kind of results that have been seen and sometimes the clinics that have been put on is exactly what she expects out of her veteran squad.

 "No, I wake up every day wanting to win every single game, this group I think feels the same way, " she said. "We don't think about losing, we just think about being  all we can be today, and whatever's ahead of us that day we want to just conquer it … It's not surprising, I mean I think if you expect anything less you're probably going to get it.

"We just again want to put the 8-0 behind us, and just focus on Illinois and let that take care of itself."

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