Texas Tech Preview

Texas Tech and West Virginia have a number of similarities, and will match their strengths in Thursday's Sweet 16 battle.


While much of the focus on Texas Tech centers on mercurial coach Bob Knight, the Red Raiders have a fine team that, in many respects, is similar to West Virginia. Both teams run screening, reading and cutting offenses, and both teams are at their best when sharing and passing the ball well.

Like WVU, Tech's strength is in its guard play. Jarrius Jackson (So., 6-1, 185 lbs.) and Ronald Ross (Sr., 6-2, 185 lbs.) lead the team in scoring, with averages of 15.5 and 17.6 points per game, respectively. Both are excellent three-point shooters who don't force attempts. Jackson is hitting 47.3% of his tries from downtown, while Ross cans 44.4%.

Forward Martin Zeno (Fr., 6-5, 190 lbs.), like counterpart Mike Gansey, gets to the basket a lot, and leads the team in free throw attempts. He averages 12.8 points and 4.2 rebounds per outing. On the opposite side, Darryl Dora (So., 6-9, 235 lbs.) averages 6.0 points and 4.0 boards per contest, while Devonne Giles (Sr., 6-8, 225 lbs.) provides more scoring punch with 11.3 points per contest. Giles also leads the team in rebounding with 6.6 per game.

Off the bench, guard Curtis Marshall (Sr., 6-5, 190 lbs.) has plenty of experience, having started 12 games this year. He chips in with 6.5 points and 2.5 rebounds per game, and is yet another Red Raider who tops the 40% mark form three-point range. Drew Coffman (So., 6-1, 175 lbs.) is a playmaker, with a better than 2.5-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. The main support up front comes from Damir Suljagic (Fr., 6-8, 235 lbs.) who provides bulk and defense in his 10.6 minutes per outing.


West Virginia coach John Beilein vs. Texas Tech coach Bob Knight

WVU's self-effacing mentor would be the last person to promote this game as a battle of wits between the coaches. Beilein always puts the attention on the players on the floor, and routinely downplays the effects he has on the game.

Game Info

Thu Mar 24
9:40 p.m.

WVU 23-10
TT 22-10

First Meeting


WV - 7
TT - 6

Despite the protestations Beilein would surely voice over any attention paid to this matchup, the battle of wits and adjustments between WVU's coach and Tech's Bob Knight promises to be a delicious one. Both coaches are masters at designing offenses to take advantage of opponents' defensive weak spots, and both believe fundamentals are the key to winning games.

Conventional wisdom might have it that Beilein will be a bit intimidated when going up against such a legendary figure, but the view from here says otherwise. Beilein truly does not pay attention to things that he considers extraneous to the game – and this head-to-head battle would certainly be included in that category. Beilein will note what Knight does, but it will be limited to his shuffling of players and his adjustments during the game, not to the sideline histrionics or intimidation tactics that are frequently a part of Knight's in-game activity.

Fans who are able to tear themselves away from the on-court action might try to note the personnel and tactics changes that occur during the game, as each coach tries to make the definitive move to give his team an edge.


WVU: None

TT: None

OUTLOOK In a game between two coaches and teams that stress fundamentals, the outcome will probably be determined in some decidedly non-flashy manner. The winner won't be the team with the most dunks (see: Wake Forest) but the team that doesn't make mistakes and takes advantage of its opportunities.

Two such areas that jump out are free throw shooting and turnovers. These two stats, important at any time, figure to be magnified in this Sweet 16 battle, where team play and maximizing each possession will be crucial.

West Virginia has been on a tear of late from the line, and despite a couple of misses against Wake Forest down the stretch, is hitting 74.3% from the line. Tech, however, is even better, hitting a crisp 75.7% of its free throws. Tech has also taken 211 more free throws than WVU this season, showing that 1) the Red Raiders get the ball inside a bit more, and 2) the Big 12 might be officiated a bit more closely than the sometimes rough-and-tumble Big East.

Just as this stat yields a slight edge to Tech, so does the turnover number to West Virginia. The Mountaineers have given the ball away just 371 times this year, an average of only 11.2 per game. The Red Raiders have committed 407, for a slightly higher but still excellent rate of 12.7 per game.

Finally, assists are virtually dead even, with Tech racking up 544 while WVU checks in with 541. Those numbers reflect the styles of offense employed by both teams, and also the efficiency with which they run them.

Although stats can sometimes be twisted to support both sides of an argument, in this case the results should be clear cut. The team that wins these battles will likely be the one advancing to the Elite Eight on Saturday.

FAST BREAKS Although this is the first time West Virginia and Texas Tech have met, it's not Bob Knight's first game against the Mountaineers. His Army team, ranked #14 in the nation, dropped a 74-71 decision to WVU in Morgantown on Dec. 11, 1970.

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West Virginia is 7-5 against teams ranked in the AP Top 25 this year – the best such one-year mark in school history.

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Other than individual game notes, Bob Knight dominates the entire media release from Texas Tech for the West Virginia game. Perhaps that's Tech's way of taking pressure off their players, but it would be nice to see a few notes about each player in addition to a rehash of Knight's career.

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With a win against the Red Raiders, WVU would play the latest game in its history. The Mountaineers have never played a game past March 25.

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Tech is judicious in its use of the three-pointer, but the Red Raiders maximize their productivity from beyond the arc. As a team, Tech is shooting 40.1% from three-point land. That shows the Red Raiders are disciplined and take only good long-range shots – another example of the discipline and fundamentals with which Knight's team plays.

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