On Monday, the Texas Longhorns (17-11, 7-8) secured a home win over the No. 20 West Virginia Mountaineers, head coach Shaka Smart’s squad’s third consecutive after taking it to the Kansas State Wildcats last weekend and the TCU Horned Frogs the week prior.
This weekend’s match against the No. 22 Texas Tech Red Raiders (18-10, 9-6) will be different. As also noted in 247Sports, the game in itself will be “season-defining” if the Longhorns are to make enough of an impression to qualify for the NCAA Tournament.
Last weekend, the Red Raiders secured their spot in the Iowa State Cyclones’ record books when Tech dominated Iowa State by 30 points – the Cyclones’ worst loss to date in Hilton Coliseum. But their dominate win failed to develop further into the momentum Tech head coach Chris Beard may have desired, as the Red Raiders belly-flopped against the Oklahoma Sooners three days later; notably, Tech’s leading scorers – Jahmi’us Ramsey, Kyler Edwards and Davide Morreti – combined for a mere 11 points on the night.
It was a sluggish showing on the part of the Red Raiders, much like the first half of the last time Texas and Texas Tech met, when the Red Raiders rallied to beat the Longhorns 62-57.
In the first half of that early February game, Texas put themselves in a place to win by going up by as much as 16 points during certain parts of the game. But then the second half happened and Texas was called for 15 fouls – compared to only six called on Texas Tech – providing an ample opportunity for the Red Raiders to make 16 out of 21 free throws.
In the final 20 minutes alone of that game, Texas turned over the ball nine times.
Arguably, though, Texas is a different team since the last meeting. During the Longhorns’ three-game win streak, they’ve converted nearly 52 percent (71-137) from the field, including a more than 46 percent mark (26-56) from the three-point line.
The same could be said for sophomore guard Courtney Ramey, who’s averaging nearly 20.7 points, 5.7 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 2.3 steals in 36.7 minutes per game while hitting 25-of-56 (.543) from the field, including a 7-of-16 (.438) mark from the three-point line, during the Longhorns’ win streak so far. During Monday’s game against West Virginia alone, Ramey dominated by posting 21 points (9-14 FG, 3-5 threes), five rebounds and four assists during his 38 minutes on the court.
If Smart’s squad can keep those numbers up – Ramey included, if not especially – they’ll be successful. Texas is 7-0 on the year when converting at least 50 percent from the field.
The game tips off at 11 a.m. Saturday morning on ESPN. According to KenPom.com, Texas has an 20 percent chance of winning with an expected margin of 58-67.