Today, the Texas Tech basketball team will face Kansas State so let’s look at what needs to change from the first meeting between these teams this season.
It’s been almost a full month since the Texas Tech basketball team faced an opponent with a losing record. That changes today as the Red Raiders face the 5-14 Kansas State Wildcats in Manhattan, KS.
To say that KSU has struggled since playing the Red Raiders in Lubbock back on January 5th (an 82-71 Tech victory) would be an understatement. The Cats have dropped seven-straight games since that contest and are in the midst of a 9-game losing streak.
The biggest problem for KSU has been simply keeping its full roster together. This year, at least eight different Wildcats have missed a game due to either an injury or COVID-19. But today, head coach Bruce Weber is expected to have his full roster available and that could boost the spirits of the underdogs.
Of course, Chris Beard isn’t taking this game lightly despite the fact that his team is a double-digit favorite.
"“It’s a business trip for us to Manhattan,” Beard said earlier this week. “We’re going to have to play well. This game has our full attention.”"
Though this game doesn’t have the same heavy-weight fight feeling that so many of Tech’s recent games have had, it is an important contest. That’s because the upcoming schedule is going to be a return to brutality.
Next week, Tech will face a pair of ranked teams in No. 17 West Virginia and No. 2 Baylor. What’s more, that Baylor game kicks off a stretch of five games in nine days for Beard’s team.
Thus, taking care of business today against a team that the Red Raiders are expected to beat is of critical importance. So let’s prepare for this potential trap game by looking at what needs to change from the last time these teams met in order for Tech to sweep the regular-season series from the Wildcats.
In the last meeting, KSU’s freshman pint guard Nigel Pack had a huge game with 17 points on 7-11 shooting, including 3 makes from 3-point range. Today, Tech can’t let him go nuts, especially early in the game when Tech needs to set the tone for the afternoon.
When playing a team that is a huge underdog on their home court, coming out and putting that team in a substantial early hole is imperative. That’s because if the underdogs have a nice start to the afternoon, they could ride that surge of confidence all game long and put themselves in a position to pull the upset.
Thus, Tech can’t let the 6-foot, 180-pound Pack have the type of first half today that he did in Lubbock last month. That night, he put up 15 points in the first 20 minutes of the game thanks in large part to his shooting 3-4 from beyond the arc.
To the Red Raiders’ credit, they put the clamps on him in the second half as they allowed him to score just two points. And today, there’s no chance he will sneak up on the Red Raiders the way he appeared to in January.
This year, Pack has been a catalyst for the Wildcats. Averaging 11.7 points and 3.7 assists per game, he leads KSU in both categories. Thus, Tech has to keep him under wraps this afternoon, especially early in the game when the Red Raiders need to set the tone for the rest of the contest.