The No. 10 Texas Longhorns play a second straight game at the Moody Center on Saturday, hosting the Texas Tech Red Raiders in the first matchup since former Texas Tech head coach Chris Beard was fired with cause last week following a felony domestic violence arrest in December.
Beard’s departure from Lubbock less than two years ago inflamed the sentiments of spurned Texas Tech fans, who spent months melting down in public before Texas traveled to the South Plains last February, finally affording them the opportunity to verbally abuse Beard and Longhorns players in person in an ugly scene that fortunately concluded without any physical harm done to the visiting team and its coaches.
Less than three weeks later, a horde of Red Raiders fans descended on Austin after buying tickets en masse from a student ticket code, prompting a heavy security presence around the court following the game.
Beard’s firing, however, may reduce tensions as the move from the Erwin Center vastly reduces the availability of tickets for a series in which Texas holds an 88-65 advantage all time, but Texas Tech has dominated in recent years, winning nine of the last 11 games between the two schools dating back to 2018.
Under second-year head coach Mark Adams, the Red Raiders come to Austin looking to arrest a serious slide — Texas Tech has opened Big 12 play with four straight losses, including an 84-50 demolition by No. 14 Iowa State in Ames. A key injury has played a role with prized transfer forward Fardaws Aimaq yet to make his debut in scarlet and black due to a foot injury, although it could happen on Saturday.
Ranked No. 62 in KenPom.com’s adjusted efficiency metric, Texas Tech has the nation’s No. 97 offense and the No. 36 defense this season, led by forward Kevin Obanor averaging 15.8 points per game and guard De’Vion Harmon averaging 12.5 points per game. Without Aimaq, the Red Raiders have struggled on the glass, ranking eighth in the conference in total rebounds and ninth in offensive rebounds.
Texas enters Saturday’s game coming off an impressive comeback against No. 17 TCU on Wednesday that featured an 18-point comeback as guard Sir’Jabari Rice scored all 15 of his points in the second half and came up with the offensive rebound that sealed the game. Forward Dylan Disu tied his Texas high with 14 points on 7-of-7 shooting, including four big layups and a dunk as the Horns roared back from a 13-point deficit at halftime.
Even with the win, interim head coach Rodney Terry undoubtedly hopes Texas gets off to a faster start at home after two sluggish first halves to begin conference play — the Longhorns will emphasize better shot selection aided by the sharper ball movement and player movement that enabled Tuesday’s comeback.
How to watch
Time: 7 p.m. Central
Odds: Texas is a 9.5-point favorite, according to DraftKings.