Who: Texas Tech (14-4, 3-3) vs. Oklahoma State (10-8, 0-6)
Where: Lubbock, Texas, United Supermarkets Arena
When: Saturday, January 21, 1:00 p.m. (CT)
Radio: Texas Tech Sports Network
Notable: Oklahoma State is 0-6 in league play for the first time since the 1979-80 season.
Quotable: “I thought at the Oklahoma game--you remember I said it after the game, I thought the officiating was fine. I just thought that Oklahoma were the aggressors. They earned those free throws. That was a big focal point in this game [TCU] was that we wanted to be the aggressors. I’ve never won a fight or been in a fight where you take the first couple punches. When you decide to fight, you start throwing punches. With that, you open yourself up to get hit some yourself, but it’s a mentality. I think Oklahoma helped us win this game because we really tried to be aggressive like they were against us.”—Chris Beard.
For the second time in three games the Texas Tech Red Raiders will play a team that is winless in Big 12 play. The last time this happened—you may recall—the Oklahoma Sooners dealt Texas Tech a 84-75 setback in Norman. Now in this instance the Red Raiders will play host to the Oklahoma State Cowboys rather than being the road Raiders, but the similarity is close enough that you can be certain head coach Chris Beard has hammered home a clear message to his charges: Do not take Oklahoma State lightly because they haven’t won a Big 12 game.
We shall soon see if the message was received.
The Cowboys’ failure to win a single Big 12 game thus far is somewhat of a mystery. The backcourt tandem of Jawun Evans and Phil Forte may just be the best in the conference. Swingman Jeffrey Carroll has had a terrific season on the offensive end, and forward Leyton Hammonds is a very talented player in his own right. But still, a team with all of that ability, and one that was dynamite in non-conference play, going 10-2 with convincing wins over Connecticut, Georgetown, Tulsa and Wichita State, is now in the Big 12 cellar. Oklahoma State is an object lesson for what the Big 12 can do even to good teams.
Evans, who was torching Tech in Lubbock last season before leaving the game with an injury, currently averages 18 points, five assists, three rebounds and two steals per game. However, he has also turned the ball over 50 times, and shoots only 42 percent from the floor.
Carroll, a 6-foot-6 junior from Rowlett, Texas has come out of nowhere to have a remarkable season thus far. He averages 17 points and seven rebounds per game, while shooting 58 percent from the floor and 47 percent from three.
The third star in the Oklahoma State firmament is shooting guard Phil Forte who missed most of last season with an injury. He averages 14 points per contest and shoots an automatic 95 percent from the charity stripe.
Trying to prevent this trio from going ballistic is job one for Texas Tech’s defense. The chief Cowboys will get their points, but must be prevented from having career nights. The Red Raider offense will also need to make the Cowboys pay on the other end where they have been vulnerable.
As the current season unfolds, the junior trio of Keenan Evans, Zach Smith and Justin Gray manifests itself as the backbone of the Red Raiders. Gray has been slowed by injury, but appeared to be back in top form against TCU. If Gray is ready to roll, he will combine with Evans and Smith to present a formidable threat to the Cowboys.
Evans leads the team in scoring with 14 points per game. He also shoots 50 percent from the field and 48 percent from distance.
Jumping jack Smith scores 13 per contest and leads the Red Raiders in rebounding (eight per game) and blocked shots (29). He’s a quiet guy whose game roars.
Gray is a turbo-boosted energizer who guards well on the perimeter, creates his own shots, and rebounds with the authority of a much larger player.
One area of concern for Texas Tech will be rebounding. The Red Raiders have been beaten on the glass in their last five outings.