Who: Texas Tech (16-9, 4-8) vs. Baylor (22-3, 9-3)
Where: Lubbock, Texas, United Supermarkets Arena
When: Monday, February 13, 6:00 p.m. (CT)
Radio: Texas Tech Sports Network
Notable: In average home attendance for Big 12 basketball games, Texas Tech is No. 5 in the conference with an average of 10,607. Tech trails Kansas, Iowa State, West Virginia and Kansas State. Baylor is No. 9 in attendance, ahead of only TCU.
Quotable: ”In this game, we probably outplayed them [Kansas] 28 to 30 minutes out of the 40, but that doesn't matter. It's all about the final scoreboard. I liked our guys before tonight, and I still like them. We are getting better. There is no question that we were a better team than we were a couple weeks ago when Oklahoma State hammered us at home. Just in this league, it is so brutal.”—Chris Beard
Two days after a crushing one-point loss to No. 3 Kansas, the Texas Tech basketball team must ramp it up again for the No. 6 Baylor Bears. Such is life in the Big 12.
The Red Raiders had a chance to defeat Baylor in Waco in the teams’ earlier meeting, but as has repeatedly been the case this season, a debatable call went against the Red Raiders in the final seconds. In this case, Keenan Evans brought the ball up court with Tech trailing 63-61, when contact with Ishmail Wainright dislodged the ball near the top of the key. Evans retrieved the ball, but his 3-point attempt was blocked by Wainright, again, with contact, but no foul was called. The Bears then hit two free throws to ice the game.
Nevertheless, it was an inspired effort by Tech, and the Red Raiders will need to author something similar to bump Baylor off in Lubbock.
The Bears’ calling cards are defense and rebounding. Baylor is No. 8 nationally in scoring defense, and in Big 12 play, leads the conference by a full nine points. Texas Tech, incidentally, is No. 2 in this category.
In field goal percentage defense, Baylor’s 39.7 in Big 12 play is tops in the conference, and their overall number of 38.7 is No. 12 nationally.
The Bears are also No. 11 nationally in rebounding margin, and in Big 12 play are plus-8.1, which leads the conference by five.
6-foot-10 junior Johnathan Motley paces Baylor in scoring and rebounds at 17 and 10 respectively.
Ably assisting Motley inside is seven-footer Jo Lual-Acuil whose 2.72 blocked shots per game is No. 11 in the nation.
Point guard Manu Lacomte is second in scoring for Baylor with 13 points per contest, while the burly Wainright is Baylor’s perimeter stopper. His 46 steals leads the team by a full 21.
Shooting guard Al Freeman has missed the last two games due to suspension and his status for the Texas Tech game is unknown.
The deeper Texas Tech gets into its Big 12 slate, the more combo guard Keenan Evans elevates his game. His scoring average in conference play is up to 16.3, which is good for eighth place. He also averages three rebounds, three assists and a steal per game, and shoots 46 percent from 3-point range.
Zach Smith has also been a consistent force for the Red Raiders. He averages 13 points and eight rebounds per contest, and his 1.5 blocks per outing in Big 12 play is No. 6 in the conference.
One positive development for Texas Tech of late has been the play of guard Niem Stevenson. He scored a career high 22 points and yanked down a career best 10 rebounds last game out against Kansas, and has now scored in double digits four of his last five games.