Texas Tech (4-1) vs. Pittsburgh (4-0)
When: 6:30 CT, Monday
Where: Barclays Center, Brooklyn, New York
Radio: Texas Tech Sports Network from Learfield Sports
The Matchup: Texas Tech will face perhaps its greatest challenge of the young 2013-14 basketball season when they take on the undefeated and unchallenged Pitt Panthers at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. The Panthers, whose average margin of victory is 26.3 points, have dispatched Savannah State, Fresno State, Howard and Lehigh without breaking a sweat. Pitt, which competes in the ACC for the first time in school history, outrebounds opponents by an average of 18.5 per game, is holding opponents to 55 points per game and 36.8 percent shooting. 6-foot-9 Talib Zanna, a native of Kaduna, Nigeria, averages 15 points and nine boards per game, while connecting on 78 percent of his shots. Lamar Patterson, a do-everything sort, averages 14 and five, to go along with 5.5 assists per game and 41-percent shooting from three-point territory. Slithery, 6-6 Durand Johnson chips in 10 points and five boards per outing, while shooting 43 percent from deep. Cameron Wright leads Pitt with 2.3 steals per contest, James Robinson kicks in 4.5 assists per game, and Brooklyn native Derrick Randall contributes 7.3 rebounds per game while playing a mere 17 minutes per contest.
Blocking shots and valuing the ball are Texas Tech fortes. The Red Raiders, with six-foot-10 Kader Tapsoba and seven-foot Dejan Kravic patrolling the back line, have swatted away 28 enemy shots, and Tech has turned the ball over an average of only 10 times per game. Jordan Tolbert's 15 points and eight rebounds per game, lead Texas Tech. Fellow forward Jaye Crockett chips in with 13 and six. Point guard Robert Turner adds an average of 13 points per game to Tech's cause, while shooting guard Dusty Hannahs, who has been coming on as of late, averages 11 points per outing.
Tech Player to Watch: The aforementioned Hannahs is coming off a 19-point outting against South Dakota State, in which he scored 17 of those points in the second half. Hannahs is also showing signs of improvement on defense.
Pitt Player to Watch: Controlling big man Talib Zanna will be an all-day job for the Red Raiders. Zanna scores and rebounds equally well, and shoots a blistering 78 percent from the floor. Tech's Jordan Tolbert has been foul-prone this season, and his task will be to rebound effectively against Zanna and the other Pitt bigs without getting into early foul trouble.
Notable: Old time observers of Southwest Conference hoops will likely recall Pitt head coach Jamie Dixon as a sharp-shooting guard for some excellent TCU basketball teams in the mid-eighties. Dixon is in his 11th season with the Panthers and has a 286-66 overall record.
Quotable: "He is athletic and Randy was physically ready to play at this level. Coming out of the high school league that he played in Inglewood [California], he understands and has an excellent feel for the game with good vision. He really is getting better every game. He probably could have contributed more minutes, but I thought in the end he did some good things for us"—Tubby Smith on backup point guard Randy Onwuasor.
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