Who: Texas Tech (11-1, 1-0) vs. No. 13 Iowa State (11-2, 0-1)
Where: Ames, Iowa, Hilton Coliseum
When: Wednesday, January 6, 8:00 p.m. (CT)
Radio: Texas Tech Sports Network
Notable: A key player for Iowa State is guard Deonte Burton, a transfer from Marquette. Burton stands 6-foot-4 and weighs—get this—250 pounds! And you thought Baylor’s Ish Wainwright was a bruiser.
Quotable: “When they’re both playing like that, we are going to be hard to beat. We are a team that can compete with anyone. You have to make shots. That is the name of the game. They have been through the battles and have been tested. They know what to do when the pressure is upon us.”—Tubby Smith on the performance of Devaugntah Williams and Toddrick Gotcher against Texas
Iowa State is not a particularly deep team—with injury having shelled Naz Long the Cyclones go only seven deep—but their top seven performers can play with anybody in the country. This offensive juggernaut starts with Georges Niang, who may be the only player in the Big 12 who will seriously challenge Buddy Hield for Player of the Year honors. Niang averages 20 points, seven rebounds, three assists, a block and a steal per game. He also shoots 55 percent from the field, 41 percent from three, and 87 percent from the line.
But if Niang was all Iowa State had, one wouldn’t have to worry. Unfortunately, however, he is just the tip of the cyclone. Jameel McKay, who has played particularly well against Texas Tech in the past, averages 14 points, 10 rebounds, and one block per game. He also shoots 60 percent from the floor.
Next is point guard Monte Morris who also averages 14 points per game, but also dishes out eight assists per contest (No. 4 nationally)—while committing an average of one turnover—as well as two steals, and four rebounds per game. He shoots 52 percent from the floor.
Forward Abdel Nader kicks in 12 points and five rebounds per contest.
Then there’s Deonte Burton who, since becoming eligible four games ago, is tearing it up at 14 points and four boards per contest, as well as shooting at a 70-percent clip from beyond the arc.
As a team the Cyclones shoot 51 percent from the floor (No. 6 nationally) and 35 percent from three, and have a stunning 5-to-1 assist/turnover ratio (No. 16 nationally). Iowa State is not the greatest defensive club around, but with offensive firepower like that, they can still handle the vast majority of teams that come there way, particularly in Hilton Coliseum.
Texas Tech, winners of 10 straight games, will play their first true road game of the season against the Cyclones. You’d be hard pressed to pick a more brutal baptism by fire. Still, the Red Raiders are pretty salty themselves, and will not just lie down for ISU.
From a team standpoint, Tech has much to recommend it. The Red Raiders shoot it at a 46-percent clip while allowing opponents to connect on only 39 percent of their field goal attempts (No. 36 nationally). Tech’s three-point shooting percentage is up to 32 percent, which is two percent better than their foes (No. 40 nationally). The Red Raiders hit on 74 percent of their free throws (No. 32 nationally), and are now outrebounding their opponents by an average of five per game. Tech is also a strong first half team, leading the opposition by an average of eight points going into the halftime break.
Devaugntah Williams continues to top the Tech stat-sheet, averaging 15 points, four rebounds, two assists and a steal per contest. He also shoots a ridiculous 92 percent from the charity stripe (No. 8 nationally).
Toddrick Gotcher chips in 12 points, four boards, two assists and a steal per outing, and is Tech’s marksman, shooting 45 percent from three.
Ace defender Zach Smith averages 10 points, seven rebounds and two blocked shots per outing while shooting 57 percent from the floor.