Texas Tech (7-5) versus Mount Saint Mary's (3-8)
Where: Lubbock, Texas, United Spirit Arena
When: 6 p.m. central time, December 30
TV: FOX College Sports Pacific
Radio: Texas Tech Sports Network from Learfield Sports
The Matchup: Texas Tech concludes its difficult non-conference slate against a Mount Saint Mary's squad that knows a thing or two about challenging schedules. MSM has played West Virginia, Villanova, Brigham Young, Michigan State when the Spartans were ranked No. 1, and most recently, Penn State. Predictably, the Mountaineers of the Northeast Conference have taken their lumps.
Rebounding has been a serious problem for MSM. The Mountaineers are a negative 7.5 in rebounding margin. MSM have some height in 7-foot sophomore Taylor Danaher and 6-foot-10 Kristijan Krajina, although the latter plays sparingly. A bigger problem—so to speak—is a lack of bulk. Danaher is a wispy 215 pounds, and outside of he and Krajina, 6-foot-6 forward Aaron Brown of Ft. Worth is the only other player on the roster who tips the scales at 200 or more pounds.
The Mountaineers take good care of the ball, committing only 12 turnovers per contest, which is one fewer than their opponents average. Unfortunately, however, MSM shoots only 41 percent from the floor while allowing their opponents to connect on 51 percent of their shots.
Texas Tech, which looked to perhaps be turning the corner in a two-point loss to LSU, followed up that game with perhaps their most disappointing performance of the season in a 14-point defeat at the hands of Arizona State.
The Red Raiders actually look pretty good statistically. Rebounding and free throw shooting are particular fortes, with Tech holding a plus three advantage in rebounding margin and shooting 74 percent from the stripe. The Red Raiders also outshoot their opponents 46 to 43 percent and commit significantly fewer turnovers than their foes.
A critical problem, however, has been perimeter shooting and perimeter defense. The Red Raiders shoot a paltry 30 percent from three-point range and allow opponents to connect on 36 percent of their shots from that area of the court. Teams are taking advantage of that disparity, too, having shot 65 more three-pointers than Tech.
The Red Raiders continue to be led by forwards Jaye Crockett and Jordan Tolbert who average 14 and six, and 13 and seven, respectively.
Tech Player to Watch: Jordan Tolbert is coming off of one of the better performances of his career, scoring 25 points and pulling down 12 rebounds against Arizona State. For the season, Tolbert shoots 60 percent from the floor and 81 percent from the free throw line.
Mount Player to Watch: Mount Saint Mary's boasts a dandy point guard in senior Julian Norfleet of Virginia Beach, Virginia. He averages 19 points, six assists and three rebounds per game. Norfleet also has a 2-to-1 assist/turnover ratio. And he's put up those stats playing very stiff competition indeed. Norfleet is one of the better point guards Tech will see all year.
Notable: Texas Tech and Mount Saint Mary's have never met on the basketball court. MSM is located in Emmitsburg, Maryland, 150 miles northwest of Tubby Smith's hometown of Scotland, Maryland.
Quotable: "We just have to go back to the gym and see why we're not shooting the ball well. To be honest, we haven't shot the ball well all year and sure, that's a concern"—Tubby Smith.
Texas Tech-Mount St. Mary's Preview
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