Who: Texas Tech (17-10, 5-9) vs. Iowa State (17-9, 9-5)
Where: Lubbock, Texas, United Supermarkets Arena
When: Monday, February 20, 8:00 p.m. (CT)
Radio: Texas Tech Sports Network
Notable: Iowa State has led the Big 12 in scoring the last four seasons. Currently, the Cyclones are No. 4 in the conference in scoring offense.
Quotable: "It's tough, but it starts with the character of our guys. We have a locker room full of guys and no one's had an easy life. We don't have McDonald's All-Americans or those kind of guys. We have guys that have proven everyone wrong their whole careers. This is just another example. It's a lot like life--adversity is going to come. It's not a matter of when, and when it comes you have to respond. We have a game in less than 48 hours so no choice but to respond."—Chris Beard
In certain respects, Texas Tech faces its toughest and most important challenge of the season when Iowa State, currently tied with Baylor and West Virginia for second place in the Big 12, comes to town for a Monday night tilt. The Red Raiders put forth an outstanding effort at No. 9 West Virginia before ultimately losing a double-overtime decision.
It was a game Texas Tech had a real chance of winning at the end of the first overtime period. Instead, the Red Raiders suffered a defeat that could easily exact a debilitating psychological and physical toll.
Can the Red Raiders get their legs back under them just two days after the double-OT loss and the long journey home from Morgantown? Can they conjure up the psychological energy to focus on Iowa State?
There is a bit of a precedent. Two days after losing a one-point heartbreaker to the No. 3 Kansas Jayhawks, Texas Tech took out the No. 4 Baylor Bears. The Red Raiders can do this. But it will be demonically difficult. And if Tech doesn’t take care of its business at home, its hopes for an NCAA berth will become approximately nil. That is pressure.
ISU, which has won three games in a row, is a high-energy team that pressures on defense, creates turnovers, and shoots the 3-ball a great deal. In other words, they are explosive.
In Big 12 play the Cyclones lead the conference in steals, turnover margin and assist/turnover ratio. However, they are also last in rebounding margin, and eighth in field goal-percentage defense.
Naz Mitrou-Long, Monte’ Morris and Deonte Burton are all in the Big12’s top 11 in scoring in conference play. Mitrou-Long’s 17 points per game leads the way. Burton is also averaging 5.4 rebounds per outing, while Morris’ 6.4 assists per contest in conference play is second best in the Big 12. Morris’ assist/turnover ratio of 8.2 is far beyond Kansas’ Devonte’ Graham, whose ratio of 2.5 is second best.
Texas Tech will counter with shooting guard Keenan Evans who has been on a tear. His 17.6 points per game in Big 12 play lags only Kansas’ Frank Mason and Oklahoma State’s Jeffrey Carroll. Evans has also shot 46.7 percent from distance in Big 12 play, which is fourth in the conference.
Zach Smith, the conference’s No. 5 rebounder at 7.5 boards per game, also scores 12.8 points per outing. He will seek to recover from an abnormally poor game against West Virginia in which he played with nowhere near his customary energy.