Who: Texas Tech (5-1) vs. Tennessee-Martin (2-6)
Where: Lubbock, Texas, United Supermarkets Arena
When: Wednesday, December 9, 8:00 p.m. (CT)
TV: Fox Sports Southwest Plus
Radio: Texas Tech Sports Network
Notable: After Texas Tech’s 17-point win over Sam Houston State, the team’s RPI rating crept up to No. 5, which is tops in the Big 12.
Quotable: “We have a size advantage so it creates defensive mismatches for us, but it also creates some matchup problems for them. Our job is to make sure our players understand that you have to execute and recognize the situations both offensively and defensively. We have to get back in transition defense because their guys are extremely fast. If you get caught in a mismatch situation, you have to make sure you contain. For example, there may be times where Norense Odiase is guarding one of their shooting guards like Alex Anderson who is one of their best players. We may have one of our guards stuck on Twymond Howard who is a very talented scorer. We try to teach the fundamentals that our defense will take care of any problems that may arise”—Tubby Smith on strategy for Tennessee-Martin
Assuming the Red Raiders didn’t burn too much midnight oil prepping for final exams, they should be very well rested for the Tennessee-Martin Skyhawks. Tech’s last game was a week ago against Sam Houston State, and the Red Raiders will take another week off before one more Wednesday night home-stand with South Dakota State next week.
Tennessee-Martin, a member of the Ohio Valley Conference, doesn’t have an impressive won-lost record—they are 2-6—but they have played a few tough teams and have competed well in several of their losses. Those losses include a 34-point defeat at Oklahoma State, and a 25-point loss at Mississippi State, a team the Red Raiders beat in the Puerto Rico Tipoff tournament. Losses to Oral Roberts, Florida International and Missouri-Kansas City were by an average of five points. The Skyhawks’ best win was a 78-75 road victory over James Madison.
As a team, the statistical category that immediately stands out is 3-point shooting. While Tennessee-Martin singes the nets at a 35-percent clip from distance, their opponents positively scorch them hitting 39 of their attempts from beyond the arc.
Those stats diametrically oppose what Texas Tech has done thus far this season with regards to 3-point shooting. Hence, the Red Raiders are connecting on only 28 percent of their efforts from deep, and are holding their foes to only 30-percent shooting from 3-point country.
A wild, flowing, wide-open game could produce a 3-point shootout, but if the Red Raiders are able to impose a more disciplined, defense-oriented framework on the game, the Skyhawks will have to find other ways to score besides jacking it up from Jacksboro.
Tennessee-Martin has two players who average double figures in scoring. Twymond Howard, a 6-foot-6 senior who was a Parade All American in high school, and who originally signed with UTEP, leads the Skyhawks in both scoring and rebounds. He averages 13 points and six rebounds per contest. Howard also leads Tennessee-Martin in assists with 19.
Alex Anderson, a 5-foot-11 senior, averages 12 points and three rebounds per contest, and shoots 39 percent from 3-point range.
Texas Tech’s Devaugntah Williams has had a sterling season thus far, and is giving every indication that he has a bright future as a professional should he decide to go that route. Williams is No. 4 in the Big 12 in scoring, averaging 18 points per outing, and he leads the conference in free throw shooting hitting 92 percent of his freebies. He also hauls down five rebounds per contest and has 16 assists to eight turnovers.
Zach Smith is the only other Red Raiders who scores in double figures, averaging 10 points per game (Keenan Evans, Norense Odiase and Toddrick Gotcher) each average nine points per game) to go along with a team-leading seven rebounds per outing. He also leads the squad in blocks with eight.
As a team, the Red Raiders are making defense their calling card. Texas Tech presently holds opponents to 40-percent shooting from the floor and 30 percent from 3-point range (No. 53 nationally out of 346 teams). Additionally, Tech has forced 80 turnovers while allowing only 61 assists, and has blocked 23 shots.