Tech Hosts Auburn in Big 12/SEC Challenge

The Red Raiders host the Tigers 8 p.m. Wednesday at United Supermarkets Arena. The matchup is the first of a 10-game clash between the two conferences over the next four days.

What: Texas Tech (4-1) vs. Auburn (3-2)
Where: Lubbock, Texas (United Supermarkets Arena)
When: 8 p.m. (CT) Wednesday
Television: SEC Network/ESPN3
Radio: TTSN

Tubby Smith’s Texas Tech Red Raiders hope they fare better against an SEC foe than did Kliff Kingsbury’s football team in an early-season loss to Arkansas. The Red Raiders will play their leg of the annual SEC-Big 12 challenge when Bruce Pearl’s Auburn Tigers invade United Supermarkets Arena Wednesday night.

In Pearl’s first season as coach of the Tigers his club is off to a roller coaster 3-2 start. Auburn began its season with a win over Milwaukee before losing to Colorado, then smacked Louisiana-Lafayette by 25, before falling by 18 at home to Tulsa and finally nipping Oregon State in their last action. The Tigers lost 90-59 to a Colorado team that beat Air Force, Tech’s most recent opponent, by 15.

6-foot-1 guard Antoine Mason, son of former New York Knicks bruiser Anthony Mason, leads Auburn in scoring at 19 points “per game,” with the proviso that he played only in the season-opener against Milwaukee. He has spent the rest of the season recovering from an injury, and is listed by Pearl as “very doubtful” for the Tech game, a pronouncement which may carry no more weight than a Kingsbury statement on his quarterback situation.

If Mason can’t go, K.T. Harrell, who averages 17 points per game, but also has 14 turnovers to go against three assists, becomes Auburn’s go-to man on offense. Massive (6-foot-7 280) Cinmeon Bowers averages 15 points and 13 rebounds per game, but is another turnover machine and shoots only 54 percent from the charity stripe. At any rate, a Bowers-Norense Odiase tete-a-tete should be something to behold, particularly if you have a yen for the old Haystack Calhoun-Ivan Putski lock-ups.

The only player on the squad who has more assists than turnovers is forward Jack Purchase who has three of the former and two of the latter. The Tigers average 14 turnovers per game, which is acceptable, but are only handing out only nine assists per game. The resulting ratio is not a good one. Tech’s pressure defense could pay dividends in this one.

Auburn is also being outshot by its opponents from the field 52 to 42 percent, and from 3-point range, 35 to 30 percent. And despite the hulking presence of Bowers, the Tigers lag their opponents on the glass by three rebounds per game.

Devaugntah Williams and Robert Turner lead the Red Raiders in scoring, averaging 13 and 12 points per contest respectively. They are the only Red Raiders averaging double figures in scoring.

Zach Smith leads Tech in rebounds with 6.4 per game and is also averaging over two blocks per outing.

The Red Raiders have been a cold-shooting team, connecting on only 41 percent of their attempts from the floor, but their defense has been sticky, holding opponents to 40-percent shooting. Tech has also been very good on the boards, holding an eight-rebounds-per-game advantage over the opposition.

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