Texas Tech (3-1) vs. South Dakota State (1-3)
When: 8 p.m. CT Thursday
Where: United Spirit Arena, Lubbock, Texas
Radio: Texas Tech Sports Network from Learfield Sports
The Matchup: The Jackrabbits' season has gotten off to a fairly rocky start. SDSU, the two-time defending champs of the Summit League, opened with a four-point loss at the University of San Diego and followed it up by losing to Loyola Marymount, 98-89. The Jacks next dropped a 77-69 decision at home to the University of Montana, before netting their first win, an 83-62 shellacking of Southwest Minnesota State.
The Jackrabbits, who are projected to finish third in the Summit League after losing point guard Nate Wolters, who now starts for the Milwaukee Bucks, return four seniors including all-league pick Jordan Dykstra, a 6-foot-8 forward. Dykstra leads SDSU with 17 points and nine rebounds per game. He is only shooting 44 percent from the floor, however. Guard Brayden Carlson has been a mixed blessing for the Jacks. On the one hand, he averages 16 points per game and shoots 53 percent from the floor. On the other, he averages four turnovers per game and shoots only 53 percent from the stripe. Of concern for Texas Tech is the fact that SDSU shoots 20 free throws per game and out-rebounds their opponents by an average of 4.5 caroms per game.
Although Texas Tech hasn't played a particularly tough schedule to this point (not many teams have), the Red Raiders may have played their best game their last time out, forging an 80-71 victory over a tough Texas Southern squad. Tech has gotten prime production from the trio of forwards Jaye Crockett and Jordan Tolbert, and point guard Robert Turner. But it was guard Dusty Hannahs who stole the show against TSU by coming off the bench to torch the Tigers for 19 points, 17 of them in the second half. As a team, the Red Raiders are shooting a strong 51 percent from the field, but a porous 59 percent from the free throw line. Tech is also a shot-swatting team, turning back six enemy offerings per contest.
Tech Player to Watch: When potential star point guard Josh Gray transferred to Odessa College, and Tubby Smith replaced him with JUCO obscurity Robert Turner, few people thought Turner would be an upgrade. But that is exactly what he's been. Turner leads the Red Raiders in scoring with 16 points per game, owns a 2/1 assist-to-turnover ratio, and shoots an astounding 54 percent from the floor.
South Dakota State Player to Watch: Dykstra gets all the pub, but fellow forward Cody Larson is almost as good. Despite playing four fewer minutes per game, Larson also pulls down nine boards per contest. Additionally, he averages 11 points per game and shoots 54 percent from the floor.
Notable: SDSU head coach Scott Nagy is in his 19th season at the helm of the Jackrabbit program. He was a graduate assistant on Lou Henson's great Illinois club that made it to the Final Four in 1989. Almost half of the SDSU roster hails from the sparsely populated state of South Dakota. SDSU is 0-2 all time against Tech, losing to the Red Raiders in 1971, and again to a Tech team destined for the NIT in 1979.
Quotable: "Well our bench, that's the key. We really don't have that one guy we can throw the ball to and every night we count on him getting 25 points per game. So it's got to be a team effort; that's what I like about this group. I told each guy before they go into the game to do something productive and positive when they're in, and I think for the most part they did "—Tubby Smith.
Texas Tech-South Dakota State Preview
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