Who: Texas Tech (6-1) vs. South Dakota State (9-1)
Where: Lubbock, Texas, United Supermarkets Arena
When: Wednesday, December 16, 7:00 p.m. (CT)
TV: Fox Sports Southwest Plus
Radio: Texas Tech Sports Network
Notable: The state of South Dakota is hardly a hotbed of basketball recruiting, but the 9-1 SDSU Jackrabbits have five players from the Mount Rushmore State on the roster.
Quotable: “It [the game against South Dakota State] will be the toughest so far. I think they’ll be the best team we’ve played so far, and that includes Utah, just to give you an idea of the respect I have for coach Nagy and the Jackrabbits. I know what they were like when we had to play against them each time, and we were fortunate to have them at home in the three years, four years I was there at Minnesota. They’ll be the most…I can’t say the most talented team, but they’ll be one of the best-coached teams that we’ve seen so far. They’ll be the best at executing that we’ve seen so far. They’re a team that’s not gonna beat themselves. They just don’t have many, if there are any at all, weaknesses in their team, in their play. So I’m really concerned. We’re coming off of a good win against UT-Martin, but this is a big step up as far as competition is concerned.”—Tubby Smith on the matchup with South Dakota State
When Tubby Smith says South Dakota State will be the best team Texas Tech has faced so far this season he ain’t just a-woofin’. The Jackrabbits boast a sparkling 9-1 record that includes road wins over Minnesota (by 14) and TCU (by nine). What’s more, after their only loss, by seven at Missouri-Kansas City, the Jackrabbits have ripped off three straight wins by an average of 17 points. SDSU comes in as a hot and confident team.
Statistically speaking, the Jackrabbits are rock-solid. They shoot 49 percent from the floor, 39 percent from three, and a highly impressive 76 percent from the charity stripe. SDSU’s opponents, on the other hand, shoot only 37 percent from the field.
The Jackrabbits are plus-five in rebound margin, and have forced 140 turnovers against only 99 assists allowed.
It is also worth noting that South Dakota State is a fast-starting team. For the season the Jackrabbits average 44 points per first half while allowing only 30.
Flint, Michigan’s Deondre Parks is SDSU’s main scoring threat, averaging 18 points per contest, while pulling down an average of five boards per outing. He also shoots at a 93-percent clip from the line. The chink in his armor is 14 turnovers to six assists.
Point guard George Marshall makes up for Parks’ distribution woes with an assist/turnover ration of nearly three-to-one. He also averages 13 points per contest.
Jake Bittle, however, may be Scott Nagy’s most complete player. He averages 13 points, three rebounds, and three assists per game, while shooting 62 percent from the floor, 52 percent from three, and 88 percent from the free throw line. Bittle’s 10 steals are second best on the squad. Tevin King leads SDSU in that category with 14 in only 15 minutes of play per game.
Just as South Dakota State will be Tech’s toughest test so far, so will the Red Raiders be for the Jackrabbits. Texas Tech has quality wins over Minnesota, Mississippi State and Hawaii on its resume, and after dropping a 10-point decision to then No. 16 Utah, has won five straight.
Defense continues to be a strong suit for the Red Raiders as they hold opponents to only 39 percent shooting, and have forced 97 turnovers while allowing only 67 assists.
Devaugntah Williams is Tech’s top gun, dropping in 16 points per contest and pulling down five boards as well. His matchup with Deondre Parks will certainly be one to watch.
In his senior season Toddrick Gotcher has developed into a very complete and efficient player. He averages 11 points and five rebounds per game, shoots 41 percent from three, and has a three-to-one assist/turnover ratio.
Zach Smith presently stands as Tech’s premiere frontcourt player. He averages 10 points and seven rebounds per outing, and shoots 53 percent from the field.