Middle of the pack is exactly where the Lady Raiders find themselves entering tonight's meeting with Cowgirls inside Gallagher – Iba Arena at 7 p.m.
Texas Tech (16-6, 4-6 in Big 12 Conference play) finds itself in a traffic jam along with the Oklahoma State and Iowa State at 4-6 in league play, which puts that trio in deadlock at sixth in the Big 12 standings.
Getting a win against the Cowgirls (12-7, 4-6) would be big, Tech head coach Kristy Curry said, and it would also be good to put some distance between them and the other teams in the middle.
"It's obviously a great opportunity to separate yourself," she said. "And when you start looking, and you get your pencil out and you start messing with who's playing who this week and things that we do as coaches, certainly it's an important game. I think our kids understand that, if it doesn't go our way we can still go grab some on the road and defend our home court. The bottom line is just understanding the importance of going up there, we've had success up there."
Success is definitely something the Lady Raiders have experienced in the history of the series with the Cowgirls as Tech leads the all-time series 30-18.
The Lady Raiders have won three of the last four meetings between them and the Cowgirls including a 58-53 conference-opening win on January 4 in Lubbock.
The biggest difference between that game and tonight's is the simple fact that senior Kierra Mallard is still not back to full strength after she was out for a couple of games with an undisclosed injury.
Tech's leading scorer has returned to the lineup, but not to the starting five as of yet, Mallard is the only Lady Raider averaging double-digits in scoring this season with 12.7 points per game.
In the starting five, that will more than likely rolled out against the Cowgirls tonight, junior Casey Morris leads the way for Tech averaging 9.7 points per game.
Despite not having their leading scorer at full strength, Curry said she believes her team is in the right position at this point of the season.
"Oh definitely, obviously we're in good shape and we've got an opportunity ahead of us," she said. "We need to continue to take it one game at a time, and stay as positive as we can. Feel like if you can finish in the top seven in this league you're going to go into the tournament."
Now looking at the Cowgirls, it is a different story for a team that has been on a roller-coaster this season but have three players averaging double-digits in scoring entering tonight's game.
Freshman Liz Donohoe leads the way for the Cowgirls with 13.3 points per game right now and is followed up by sophomore Tiffany Bias, who averages 12.3 points per game.
From the first meeting to this one these players have continued to get better as a team as well.
With a few weeks between the first meeting and this one, there have been some improvements for both teams, meaning this game could not be in the bag for either team from the outside looking in.
With the new round robin schedule format the Big 12 has gone to each team gets to play each other twice in the season, and Curry said down the stretch it's not going to be about a team's skill but more than that.
"I feel like it gives you a true league champion," she said. "I feel like it gives everyone down the stretch an opportunity to control their own destiny. So whether it's a true league champion or your fighting to get into the NCAA Tournament, I think it's going to be those that have the strongest will, it's not about the skill right now it's about the will."