Nightcaps Await Raiders in March Madness Round 1

<p>Texas Tech's basketball teams have had an outstanding year, earning their way into March Madness. Both teams drew nightcap games in Round One -- first the Red Raiders facing UCLA Thursday in Tucson, then the Lady Raiders meeting UT-Arlington Saturday night in Dallas.

CBS will carry the men's game live with Kevin Harlan and Dan Bonner; John Harris will call the game for Texas Tech sports, along with Chris Cassidy, on flagship KKAM 1340 AM.

Tech pulled a No. 6 seed in the Albuquerque region, the highest they have had since head coach Bob Knight took over the program five years ago; their run to the finals of the Big 12 Conference Tournament took them past 20 wins for the fourth straight year with Knight at the reins. It is the Red Raiders' third trip to the tournament in four seasons; for Coach Knight, it's the 27th – a mark equal to that of Dean Smith, tying for most berths in NCAA Division I history.

Led by 6-7 guard/forward Dijon Thompson, the UCLA Bruins bring a 17-14 record to the first round of the NCAA Tournament Thursday night in Tucson. Their at-large bid from the Pac-10 Conference puts Ben Howland's squad back in the Big Dance after a two-year absence.

UCLA typically starts three freshmen; Thompson is the only senior to start regularly. Frosh Jordan Farmar and Arron Afflalo have proven invaluable to the Bruins this season. Farmer's 5.2 dish per game average makes the first-year point guard even more of a threat than his team-second 380 total points for the year. He shoots a 13.6 point average game and has a .340 percentage beyond the arc; he's the best charity shooter on the squad, with a .813 average (109/134). Afflalo is a 11.0-ppg performer, adding 307 points to the Bruins' yearly total. He's a reliable threat from downrange, too, having sunk 39 of 99 attempts.

The third freshman who regularly contributes big minutes for the Bruins is Josh Shipp, whose rebounding skills the Bruins need.

Thompson, though, is definitely the key to UCLA this year; his 494 total points come at an 18.3 ppg pace and he shoots at a .474 performance; his .374 shooting from three-point country only increases the threat he represents; he is a .785 charity shooter for the Bruins.

Michael Fey, a 7-0 junior, has started most often at center for the Bruins this year.

Tech rides into the tournament on the broad shoulders of walk-on Ronald Ross, a senior from Hobbs, N.M. The only Red Raider to make the single-season steal list for three separate seasons, Ross has set a team record for games in his career with 129, bypassing the 128 mark Andre Emmett formerly set. Ross averages 17.0 points an outing to lead the team; Jarrius Jackson is next at 15.3 points per game, followed by Martin Zeno with 13.2 ppg, while Devonne Giles averages 11.2. Tech is one of six teams from the Big 12 Conference – most of any league among the men – to receive invitations to the NCAA Tournament. Kansas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Iowa State and Texas also earned berths this year; the Kansas Jayhawks have now played in the most consecutive tourneys except Arizona; KU has sixteen straight appearances.

Sixteen straight appearances is a familiar number to Texas Tech fans – the Lady Raiders are in the NCAA tournament for the sixteenth year in a row. Currently ranked No. 14 in the nation, the 22-7 women's team finished conference play with a 12-4 season, earning a bye to the quarterfinals of the league tournament in Kansas City.

There Tech managed to pull off a last-second victory over Iowa State when a desperation bucket caromed off; but in the semifinals the Lady Raiders fell foul of Baylor, and for the third time this year the Bears had what it took to overcome Tech.

Tech's game Saturday night caps the second session of play; the approximately 8:30 p.m. tip-off time is officially listed as 30 minutes after completion of the 6 p.m. match between North Carolina State and Middle Tennessee State.

The 21-9 Lady Mavericks are first-time conference tournament champs of the Southland Conference under the guidance of fifth-year head coach Donna Capps. This year they tied for the regular-season league title, on the shoulders of Rola Ogunoye, an all-Southland Conference team selection who has scored more than 1,500 points; fellow senior Tabitha Wesley, who has shacked more than 60 bombs from three-point range this year; and Terra Wallace, a sophomore standout who averages 24 points per game. Senior Krystal Buchanan leads the team in assists with 118, and Ogunoye is the team's best shot blocker with 30.

Tech will depend on four starters who average in double figures – senior center Cisti Greenwalt at 13.1 points per game, junior guard Chesley Dabbs at 12.4, sophomore Alesha Robertson at 12.3 and junior LaToya Davis, at 12.0. Davis is shooting 60.0 percent from the field, a team and conference high this season.


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