Today, the Texas Tech basketball team is desperately trying to end its longest losing streak of the season at three. To do that, the Red Raiders will need to defend their home court against UCF this afternoon.
This will be the first time these programs will meet on the hardwood, and the game could not be more important for Grant McCasland’s team. Tech is reeling after a week in which the Red Raider roster and coaching staff were decimated by the flu. Additionally, with Kansas State to Lubbock on Monday, a five-game losing streak could become a reality if the Red Raiders can’t put this fish in the boat.
But UCF also needs to be motivated. They currently sit on the outside in the NCAA Tournament picture, so a big win on the Quad-1 road would do wonders for their hopes of sneaking into the Big Dance.
Texas Tech has only lost once at home this year, to Cincinnati by three points. Meanwhile, UCF has only won one road Big 12 game thus far, an upset of Texas in Austin. Hopefully today continues to be strong in that regard and the Red Raiders can get back to winning ways.
Hint: 3 p.m.
TV: ESPN+ Ted Emrich (play-by-play), Brydon Manzer (analyst) Radio: DOUBLE T 97.3 FM Jeff Haxton (play-by-play), Chris Revell (analyst) Streaming: National Team App
(All game notes courtesy of TexasTech.com)
Texas Tech is averaging 75.0 points per game through nine Big 12 games, the most since the 2001-2002 season when the team averaged 79.4 points in conference play. The Red Raiders currently have the fourth-highest scoring offense in the Big 12 in conference games and lead the Big 12 in statistics with 41.0 percent from 3-point range and 76.5 percent from free throws.
UCF took a week off after its win over the Sooners, and Jaylin Sellers scored 20 points, Antwon Jones added 15 points and Darius Jackson added 14 points. Sellers went 13-of-14 from the free throw line in the win. They will play their first matchup against the Red Raiders, who lead the Knights with 17.2 points per game this season.
Isaacs leads the Big 12 with 19.4 ppg. He entered the conference-only game after scoring 11 points in the past two games against Baylor and 22 points against Cincinnati. Following Isaacs in Big 12-only stats are KU’s Hunter Dickinson (19.3 points), Texas’ Max Abmas (18.3 points) and former Red Raider-turned-Jayhawk Kevin McCuller (18.1 points). ). McCuller leads the entire Big 12 with 19.5 ppg. Isaacs, on the other hand, enters this week in fourth place with 17.3 ppg. Through 22 games.
Tech has made nine or more 3-pointers in 12 of 22 games this season since going 5-of-15 against Cincinnati last Saturday and 9-of-22 at No. 13 Baylor. has been successful. The Red Raiders made 14-of-28 3-pointers, the most in Big 12 play so far at TCU. The Red Raiders scored a season-high 15 points in nonconference play against Sam Houston. His 15 3-pointers against Sam Houston were the second-most in program history and just shy of the program record of 16 3-pointers set three times against Kansas in 2019.
After Toussaint scored a team-high 18 points against Baylor, Tech has been led in scoring by six different players in 22 games. Isaacs scored 25 points last week against TCU and 22 points against Cincinnati, leading the team for the 10th time this season. Isaacs had a game-high scoring streak in four consecutive games until Toussaint scored a team-high 12 points against K-State. McMillian has led Tech in scoring in three games since scoring a career-high 27 points at Oklahoma. He also led Tech with 24 points against Butler and 17 points in the win over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. Warren Washington scored a game-high 18 points in nonconference play against Oral Roberts, becoming the sixth leading scorer.
If you believe in the hopeless team theory, you have to pick Texas Tech today. Additionally, if you believe that the better team usually wins, you have to go for the Red Raiders as well.
The technician should be back to full health after dealing with the flu for the past week. That should also make people lean towards the Red Raiders in this contest.
If UCF had a game plan, it would be to keep this game a low-scoring game and let star guard Jaylin Sellers take over at the end. But I hope Tech’s best player, Pop Isaacs, who had a tough night against Baylor in Waco, has an answer. After receiving sarcastic and hypocritical jeers from those at Foster Pavilion, returning to his hometown should be a blessing for him.
This is a matchup where UCF likely won’t have the firepower to keep up with Lubbock’s Tech. UCF has one of the worst offensive teams in the Big 12. They say he’s not a very good 3-pointer, he’s not a very good 2-pointer, he doesn’t shoot free throws particularly well.
UCF has an excellent guard combo in Sellers and Darius Johnson, who are averaging over 30 points per game. However, no other player on the team averages more than his nine points per game, and the fourth-leading scorer averages just 7.3 points per game.
UCF is also not an elite rebounding team, ranking only eighth in the Big 12 in rebounding margin. That’s good for a Tech team that ranks 13th in the Big 12 in that category. Perhaps this is one of those games where the Red Raiders can be competitive on the glass, and if so, they should be in great shape.
I’m a big proponent of picking teams with a larger margin of error, especially in college sports. Today, that is Texas Tech University. The Red Raiders are a much better shooting team and have more offensive options. Additionally, the play in Lubbock would give Tech a much-needed boost to end its losing streak.
Texas Tech 74 – UCF 68