Preview: Lady Raiders Open Big 12 Play In USA

Texas Tech has ran the table in the non-conference, now it's time to see how it fairs in Big 12 play.

Undefeated is how the Lady Raiders enter the field of the Big 12 Conference this season, which hasn't been done since the 2004-2005 season – marking a new first for Kristy Curry in her coaching career.

The first test for Texas Tech (12-0) comes in the form of Oklahoma State as the two squads meet at 7 p.m. tonight inside the United Spirit Arena.

"We're really excited, all of us have been preparing and playing, practicing," Tech junior Casey Morris said. "We're all really hyped, you can tell by the energy in practice that we're ready to play in the game."

Both squads are coming off nail biting games as the Lady Raiders held on against San Diego for the win, 58-57, while the Cowgirls (8-1) weren't able to pull out the win against Long Island losing 64-63.

No. 13/ 17 Tech leads the all-time series between the two squads 29-13, winning two of three meetings last season including a clash in the first round of the Big 12 Championships.

Having that kind of experience against the Lady Raiders, Oklahoma State head coach Jim Littell said they know what kind of team Tech is – a experienced one.

"We know how good Texas Tech is," he said. " The 13th ranking is very much deserved, they're well coached, they're experienced. Very strong and physical team, just an outstanding rebounding team and that's indicative of them leading the conference in a lot of rebounding categories."

Littell said the biggest thing for his squad to do in this game is to play solid defense and to rebound the ball when they have the opportunity.

Entering Big 12 play the Lady Raiders rank first in the conference in rebounding margin, 15.3, and second in rebounding offense, 48.2 per game, and rebounding defense, 32.9 per game. The Cowgirls on the other hand rank third in rebounding offense, and sixth in rebounding defense.

Despite not leading the Cowgirls in rebounding, freshman Liz Donohoe has been a key to the squad's success leading the team in scoring averaging 15.2 points per game.

She is a little stronger than the typical freshman in this league, Littell said, and she will be crucial for Oklahoma State down the road in her career.

"Well she's a strong physical player for being a freshman in this league," he said. "We have yet to play a team the caliber of Texas Tech, or the strength of them. So our young players are going to see what the Big 12's about in a hurry coming to Texas Tech."

For the Lady Raiders their last two wins relied heavily on the bench play with Shauntal Nobles coming off the bench and scoring 22 points and grabbing 12 rebounds in those games. In one outing she scored 14, which marked a new career-high.

One starter that is truly proving her leadership in her senior season is Kierra Mallard, who leads the team with 13.8 points per game and 9.3 rebounds per game.

The Dallas native was named the MVP of the Surf-N-Slam Tournament for scoring 26 points, grabbing 15 rebounds and recording seven blocks in the two games.

It's experiences like these, and the close wins that have prepped them for play in the Big 12, Curry said, and she couldn't ask more of her players than what they have already delivered.

"We've got 12 experiences that have prepared us for 18 more," she said. "We're going to throw the ball up, and see what's going to happen and we're ready to play. I feel good about these kids as people, they're doing everything we're asking them to do without any complaint and any hesitation."


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