I'm sorry, this still bothers me. Did anyone actually *attend* the ISU-Texas Tech game? I demand proof that really happened.— John Gasaway (@JohnGasaway) January 24, 2013
Last Wednesday in Lubbock, Texas Tech knocked off Iowa State. At least that is what we are led to believe; John Gasaway wants proof, and as a cynical and cold-hearted empiricist, I cannot blame him. According to the box score -- and do you ever trust those things -- Fred Hoiberg's merry band struggled from the three point line, going 6-23. The Cyclones also only pulled down three offensive rebounds on a night where their high powered offense scored 0.76 points per possession.
Sometimes in college basketball, you just have to shrug your shoulders and say what the hell. Strange things happen on the road -- this is as good of an explanation for The Red Raiders victory over Iowa State as any other. (Perhaps I should remind you that Villanova, who lost to Columbia a month ago, has back-to-back home wins against Louisville and Syracuse.) When teams miss a bunch of threes, or make a bunch of threes, odd outcomes often follow.
Which brings us to the Red Raiders. Texas Tech lost its previous four Big 12 games before upsetting Iowa State. Tech isn't a very good team, but once the game starts, just about anything can happen. The young Longhorns don't have the luxury of taking teams for granted; they aren't good enough to take teams for granted.
Texas Tech's offense is a little better than a year ago, and it is a fair bit more balanced. Last season, Jordan Tolbert was the focal point for Tech. As a freshman, Tolbert averaged 11.5 points per game, and took 28 percent of the Raider's shots while on the floor. This year, Tolbert shoots less often. 6-11 transfer Dejan Kravic, from York University at the outskirts of Toronto; junior Jaye Crockett; and freshman guard Josh Gray all contribute on offense. Interim coach Chris Walker's team won't wow anyone with their outside shooting -- on the season the Raiders have hit 27 percent from three -- but they can score inside and crash the offensive glass. Tech will also look to push the tempo, even after made baskets by the Longhorns.
On defense, Tech applies pressure on opposing guards and forces turnovers. Gray is one of the better players in the country when it comes to stealing the ball, and junior Daylen Robinson is also an effective ball thief. The Red Raider interior defense isn't anything special, making the ball security the main challenge for the Longhorns.
Peter usually ends these things with a prediction for the final score. I will take the easy way out and report that Ken Pomeroy's models predict that the Longhorns will win 71-56. Texas Tech pushes the tempo much more than they did under Billy Gillsipie, and an up tempo game will likely benefit Texas by creating easier chances for Javan Felix and Sheldon McClellan to make magic (or at least a something approximating it) in the open court.