Tech has to do a better job in the rebounding department
The stats suggest that there is no reason for OU to have a significant rebounding advantage over the Texas Tech basketball team. In fact, on the season, the Red Raiders are 5th in the conference in rebound margin (+3.82 per game) while OU is 7th (+1.73).
However, when these teams met prior to Christmas, the Sooners dominated that aspect of the game. That can’t continue tonight.
Back in December, Oklahoma had a 36-29 edge on the glass. That included a 14-7 edge in offensive rebounds. Thus, Tech was lucky that the Sooners’ advantage in second-chance points was only 7-2.
The main Sooner that Tech must keep off the glass is forward Victor Iwuakor. The 6-foot-7 sophomore is a superb athlete who used his explosive leaping ability to pull down ten boards (6 on the offensive end of the court) in the last meeting. His ability to not only grab boards but to tip other rebounds and keep them alive for his teammates to grab was one of the key factors in making the last meeting between these programs so closely contested.
It was an outlier of a performance for Iwuakor who played 25 minutes in that game but who averages just over 14 minutes per game and collects just 4.2 rebounds per contest. But given his success in the last meeting in this series, look for Kruger to give the Nigeria native some extra run tonight.
One key player who can help even the rebounding battle tonight is Terrence Shannon Jr., who has become a strong rebounder this season. Averaging 5.5 boards per game and collecting at least five rebounds in each of his last seven games, the sophomore is coming off of a 10 rebound effort against LSU.
However, against OU in December, he had just 1 board in 33 minutes of action. That has to change tonight as does Tech’s work in keeping OU from cleaning the glass. If Tech can play this game even on the boards, it will bode well for the home team but if OU gets as many extra looks as they got in the first matchup, Tech could be in for another white-knuckle ride this evening.