The Texas Tech basketball team will host Kansas State tonight and these three individual matchups will play a huge role in determining the winner.
It’s time for the Texas Tech basketball team to put all talk of gelling to bed and actually start winning Big 12 games again. Losers of six of their last seven conference games dating back to last year, the Red Raiders suddenly find themselves facing a near must-win situation tonight against Kansas State if they wish to entertain any hopes of remaining relevant in the conference race.
Sitting at just 1-2 in league play after an uninspiring loss to Oklahoma State on Saturday, the Red Raiders are already 0-2 at home in Big 12 action, and dropping to 0-3 by falling to the Wildcats tonight would place Tech in a hole that would be difficult to climb out of.
Fortunately for Chris Beard’s scuffling team, the Wildcats are arguably the worst team in the conference. After all, they are just 5-6 on the season. However, they are 1-2 in league play just like the Red Raiders.
Much of their struggles come from the fact that they start three freshmen. But according to Texas Tech assistant coach Ulrich Malagi, there’s no reason to overlook the newest Wildcats.
"“Those guys aren’t freshmen anymore,” he said when speaking to the media on Monday. “They’ve got a lot of valuable experience through getting coached by who we feel is one of the best coaches in college basketball in Coach [Bruce] Weber.”"
Indeed, it appears as if the young Wildcats are coming into their own. After KSU lost four of their first five games, they’ve since won four of their last six.
Still, this is a team that the Red Raiders are supposed to beat. The ESPN.com matchup predictor gives the home team a 95% chance at prevailing.
All-time, Tech is 13-7 at home against K-State. That includes the current 6-game winning streak that Tech is riding at the USA in this series. But last year’s game in the Hub City should remind us not to take anything for granted.
Despite entering the game just 2-10 in league play and 9-16 overall, the Wildcats pushed Tech to the brink of an upset. In fact, had KSU guard Cartier Diarra not missed a windmill dunk attempt on a breakaway (which led to a Davide Moretti 3-pointer on the other end of the court), the Red Raiders may not have been able to hold off the Wildcats as that missed dunk would have tied the game late.
Instead, Beard’s team held on for a 69-62 victory. But that would be just the second-to-last win that the 2019-20 Red Raiders would manage as they would finish the year 1-4 and those struggles in Big 12 action have carried over to the start of the 2020-21 season.
But tonight’s game is an opportunity for Tech to get right and put together a solid showing against a team that has nowhere near as much individual talent. Still, let’s look at three head-to-head matchups that are going to be important as this game unfolds.