The #8 Horns (25-5, 13-3) begin post season play this morning in Dallas against Texas Tech (15-16, 7-10). Texas hasn't played since last Sunday's blowout win over Oklahoma in Austin. The Red Raiders have already played a game at American Airlines Center winning 73-65 over Kansas State in the first round. Tip time is set for 11:30 AM CST. A two hour lunch break will come in handy this afternoon.
The Horns and Red Raiders have already tangled twice this year. Texas has won soundly both times. Bobby Knight's club was embarrassed by a 34 point drubbing in Austin in January. Texas also managed a 21 point win in Lubbock three weeks later. There is an old saying in sports that it is difficult to beat the same team three times in a given year. We hear this especially during the NFL playoffs. Well, I don't buy it. There is a reason why a team has beaten another team twice. They are simply the better team. That is the case here as well. I don't see the Horns struggling this afternoon.
In both of the previous meeting, Lamarcus Aldridge and PJ Tucker have had big games. Texas Tech didn't have an answer for either of them before and won't have an answer for them in Dallas either. In Big 12 play, Texas Tech gave up five points more than they scored on average, good for tenth in the conference. The Horns were the best in the league with a +15.1 point scoring margin. Texas has six players capable of scoring twenty points or more in a game. Tech has one for sure with Jarrius Jackson and maybe another in Martin Zeno. Jackson is talented and can score from anywhere on the court. His impressive season earned in spots on most 1st Team All Big 12 teams including BON's. But Tech doesn't have enough scoring to stay with the Horns.
Bobby Knight's club has struggled all season long scoring. They don't have guards, besides Jackson, capable of creating their own shots and don't have much size up front either. Coach Knight has made a career of running his motion offense to create easy looks at the basket. Unfortunately, the motion is much less effective against a zone defense. Look for Texas to play almost exclusively zone against Tech as they have during the first two games.
Rebounding has also killed Tech this season. They are dead last in the conference in rebounding margin. On average, Tech is outrebounded by over seven boards per game. Unlucky for them, Texas has been an outstanding rebounding team. Texas leads the Big 12 in rebounding margin. The Horns average over eight more boards than their opponents.
This one shouldn't be close. Texas has more offensive weapons. There is no one on Tech's roster that should be able to guard Tucker or Aldridge. Texas is better on defense too. Our zone has caused the Red Raiders problems and should frustrate them again. Texas has everything to play for. Tech has almost nothing to play for. The Horns are hungry for a tournament title after being forced to share the regular season title because of a missed opportunity. They won't let this one slip away easily. Tech would need a turnover fest, foul trouble, and a lackadaisical effort to come away victorious. I don't see any of those happening.
Texas wins again with defense, 75-56.