Both teams have 9-3 records and have struggled with consistency so far. This will be greatest test for the Cowboys (KenPom No. 41) to this point in the season and should provide some insight on whether or not they’ll be able to compete for a conference title against top-tier Big 12 foes like the Red Raiders (KenPom No. 33).
Who: Texas Tech (9-3)
Where: United Supermarkets Arena | Lubbock, Texas
When: 11:00 a.m. Central | Jan 4th
TV: ESPN2 (Rich Hollenberg, Robbie Hummel)
Streaming: Watch ESPN
Live Stats: okstate.statbroadcast.com
The Red Raiders were last year’s NCAA runner-up after a 85-77 overtime loss to Virginia. Texas Tech began this season with five straight wins against over-matched opponents before dropping 3 in a row against Iowa (No. 18), Creighton (No. 39), and DePaul (No. 67). They ended that losing streak in dramatic fashion, handing then No. 1 Louisville their first loss of the season on a neutral floor.
Since that upset, they haven’t really been tested but come into this weekend’s matchup with a four-game winning streak and look to defend their home floor in both team’s conference opener. Freshman Jahmi’us Ramsey, a former four-star recruit, leads them in scoring at 17.4 points per game. A talented scorer who excels from deep, the Cowboys will have to be aware of his location at all times while he’s on the floor. Getting Isaac Likekele back should help contain him, but Ramsey absolutely has the potential to scorch the Pokes if they are undisciplined on defense.
- Are the Cowboys Big 12 title contenders? Now that the non-conference slate is over, I don’t feel confident about this season’s team making a push for that title, although I certainly think they’ll make the NCAA tournament in the No. 7-10 seed range. It feels like they are one elite player away (i.e. Cade Cunningham) from being a serious threat at both the conference and national level.
- Can the Pokes make this game “ugly”? I don’t think getting into a shootout with the Red Raiders is a recipe for success. If they get hot from outside and the Cowboys force deep shots of their own to keep pace, this game might get out of hand. Creating turnovers and letting Ice run the fast-break will eliminate Tech’s ability to run their offense cleanly.
- Does size matter? OSU holds a slight height advantage in this one, with Yor Anei being 2 inches taller than Tech’s tallest starter. If they are unable to get out and run on the fast-break, Anei winning his one-on-one matchup down low will be key to controlling the boards and the paint in general.