Now a full year removed from the Billy Gillispie fallout, Texas Tech is moving on with former Kentucky and Minnesota head coach Tubby Smith. The results are solid: in 2012-2013, the Red Raiders finished 11-20 and 233rd nationally, per Ken Pomeroy; in 2013-2014, Tech is off to an 8-7 start and 103rd per KenPom. Smith's arrival has primarily benefitted the offense, improving the nation's 205th offense to 68th at this point. However, Tech is off to an 0-2 start in Big 12 play, with home losses to Iowa State and West Virginia (in OT).
The Red Raiders are led by senior forwards Jaye Crockett and Jordan Tolbert. Crockett leads Tech in scoring at 14.1 ppg, chipping in 6.4 rbg.Tolbert, who posted a 18 points - 13 rebounds performance against Texas in Austin last year, averages 12.9 points and 7.0 rebounds a game.
Joining Crockett and Tolbert in the frontcourt are 7'0" Dejan Kravic (19 mins a game, 6.5 points - 4.1 rebounds) and 6'10" Kader Tapsoba (12.2 mpg, 3.0 ppg - 1.2 rbg). Tapsoba missed the Red Raiders previous game with a dislocated finger, but figures to return for their game in Austin. His presence is critical for a frontcourt rotation; against West Virginia, Tolbert fouled out and Crockett had 4 fouls. With the strength of Texas being its frontcourt rotation of Ridley and Holmes to Ibeh and Lammert, the 4 Red Raider big game have a tall task ahead.
Rounding out Tech's starting group are 6'3" PG Robert Turner (9.1 ppg - 3.2 apg - 1.6 turnovers) and 6'4" SG Toddrick Gotcher (6.8 ppg - 2.3 rbg - 2.3 rbg). Turner started the season hot, but has cooled off as a scorer, going 1-7 from the field against WVU. Gotcher is coming on of late and shoots .417 from 3, which could spell trouble for the Big 12's worst 3 point defense.
Obviously, the formula for Texas remains: bound the ball inside and control the paint, stop fouling (I'm looking at you, Jon Holmes), and get better point guard play. The 31 fouls and 51 FTA for Oklahoma State in Stillwater are near impossible to overcome. Jonathan Holmes has averaged 17.5 mins per game in Big 12 play, largely due to early foul trouble. Isaiah Taylor has hit a conference slump, seeing his points per game and FG% drop and his turnovers and fouls pick up. In terms of season outlook, this game is pretty key: after dropping a home game against 1 middle of the road conference opponent, Texas sees its margin of error closing.
This is your game thread. Hook 'em, and get that first conference win.