Texas Tech Faces Big Test in No. 16 Utah

Justin Gray (pictured above) and the Red Raiders open the Puerto Rico Tip Off on Thursday night against the No. 16 Utes. Get the skinny on the matchup and which players to watch for.

Who: Texas Tech (1-0) vs. Utah (2-0)

Where: San Juan, Puerto Rico, Roberto Clemente Coliseum

When: Thursday, approximately 6:00 p.m. (CT)


Radio: Texas Tech Sports Network

Notable: The series between Texas Tech and Utah is knotted at 3-3, but the Red Raiders have won the last three contests. The last meeting between the schools came in the 2003 preseason NIT in New York. Tech took that one 65-54. 

Quotable: “I thought we kept our composure and made plays. We hadn’t had that type of experience during the Canadian trip and the exhibition games. It was important to get into a tight game where there was pressure to make plays down the stretch, and we did. We made some clutch shots and our free throws.”—Tubby Smith on the win over High Point

Fresh off of the season-opening win over three-time defending Big South conference champ High Point, the Texas Tech Red Raiders travel to Puerto Rico to take on No. 16 Utah in the Puerto Rico Tipoff tournament. This game will certainly be a step up in competition.

In the victory over High Point (2-1) the Red Raiders showed some mental toughness by making clutch plays when the opportunities arose. Senior shooting guard Devaugntah Williams was nails for Tech, collecting 18 of his game high 26 points in the second half. 

Small forward Justin Gray came off the bench to contribute 12 critical points, all of them in the second half. 

Collectively, the Red Raiders connected on 72 percent of their 25 two point attempts. 

The defensive highlight was holding Big South preseason Player of the Year John Brown to 13 points, while harassing him into seven turnovers. 

With about two-and-a-half minutes remaining and the Red Raiders trailing by three, Williams knocked down a 3-pointer, and then converted a steal into a dunk which put Tech ahead for good. 

Devon Thomas also knocked down a critical shot with the shot clock winding down, while Gray and Aaron Ross went 4-for-4 at the free throw line to slam the door on the visitors.

The Utes’ two victories have come by 11 points over Southern Utah and 81-76 over Mountain West conference favorite San Diego State.

Jordan Loveridge, who connects on 53 percent of his trifectas, leads Utah in scoring at 23 points per game. 

Seven-foot Austrian Jakob Poeltl averages 21 points and 12 rebounds per contest while hitting 70 percent of his attempts from the floor.

Kyle Kuzma is the third key weapon in the Utah arsenal. He averages 18 points and 10 rebounds per outing while shooting 64 percent from the floor.  

As a team, however, Utah is only connecting on 44 percent of their shots and 32 percent of their 3-pointers. The Utes make up for this deficiency by outrebounding their opponents by six per game, and by having a considerably better assist/turnover ratio. 

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