Who: Texas Tech (19-11, 9-9) vs. TCU (11-20, 2-16)
Where: Kansas City, Missouri, Sprint Center
When: Wednesday, March 9, 8:00 p.m. (CT)
Radio: Texas Tech Sports Network
Notable: Texas Tech and TCU have met in conference tournaments only six times with each program winning three of those games. The last time TCU beat Tech in a conference tournament was in the 1989 Southwest Conference tournament.
Quotable: “I think we are embracing the challenge of having to play to get into postseason play especially the Big Dance. We know the only team that's guaranteed the automatic bid is the winner of the Big 12 Tournament. That's our goal, and that's our focus to concentrate on winning and winning today’s practice. Certainly, we know we have to be ready against a good TCU team. We think that we are heading into the right direction with Norense [Odiase] being healthy. We are getting healthy at the right time. We just need to keep everybody on the same page.”—Tubby Smith on the Red Raiders as they head into the Big 12 tournament
It has certainly been a miserable season for the TCU Horned Frogs. They have won only two Big 12 games, and are losers of their last seven contests. The average margin of defeat in those losses has been 15 points. Furthermore, TCU has won only one game on an opponent’s home court. That win came by four points over the—then—2-10 Bradley Braves back in December.
Part of TCU’s problem is the fact they have become two-dimensional on offense. Over the last four games guards Chauncey Collins and Malique Trent have combined to score over 45 percent of TCU’s points. On the season Collins and Trent both average 12 points per outing to pace the Frogs who average 67 points per game. Collins and Trent have scored 36 percent of TCU’s points over the course of the season.
But TCU’s misery index is comprehensive. There is not a single major statistical category in which the Horned Frogs, on average or cumulatively, have bettered the opposition. For instance, TCU shoots 66 percent from the free throw line while their opponents shoot 70 percent. TCU has 361 assists and 450 turnovers, while their opponents have handed out 455 assists against 460 turnovers.
The primary achievement by the Horned Frogs is an individual one--Malique Trent leads the Big 12 and is No. 16 nationally in steals per game, averaging 2.14.
Whereas the TCU Horned Frogs are in a death spiral, the Texas Tech Red Raiders are cruising at a high altitude. They go into the Big 12 tournament as one of five schools that have gone 4-2 or better over their last six games. Kansas is undefeated over that period, while Tech, West Virginia, Oklahoma and Texas are 4-2.
Following a mid-season resurgence which saw the Red Raiders defeat three nationally-ranked opponents consecutively, Tech is now seemingly a lock to make the NCAA tournament, but the Red Raiders’ performance in the Big 12 tournament could either boost or reduce their seeding. Thus Tech has good reason to play hard against the Frogs.
The Red Raiders average 73 points per contest and have four players who average double figures in scoring. Toddrick Gotcher, Devaugntah Williams and Aaron Ross all average 11 points per game, while Zach Smith averages 10. Tubby Smith’s squad has many weapons, and as big man Norense Odiase gets back into the swing of things—he missed 12 games with an injury before reentering the rotation against Kansas State last Saturday—will be even more lethal.
Texas Tech has shot free throws exceptionally well all season, and currently connects on 75 percent of their attempts from the charity stripe. But over time the Red Raiders have also become a solid 3-point-shooting team, knocking down 35 percent of their treys. Justin Gray’s 42 percent and Gotcher’s 40 top the Tech charts in that category.