Today, the Texas Tech basketball team is desperate to end a three-game losing streak, the longest losing streak of the season. To do that, the Red Raiders will have to defend their home court against UCF this afternoon.
This is the first time these programs have met on the hardwood and it couldn't be a more important game for Grant McCasland's team. Coming off of a week that's seen the flu bug decimate the Red Raider roster and coaching staff, Tech is reeling. What's more, Monday brings Kansas to Lubbock meaning that if the Red Raiders can't get this fish into the boat, then a five-game losing streak could be a reality.
UCF should also be motivated, though. They are currently on the outside of the NCAA Tournament picture so a big Quad-1 road win would do wonders for their hopes of sneaking into the Big Dance.
Texas Tech has lost only once at home this year, a 3-point defeat at the hands of Cincinnati. Meanwhile, UCF has won only one road Big 12 game thus far, an upset of Texas in Austin. Here's hoping form holds in that regard today and the Red Raiders can get back to their winning ways.
Texas Tech vs. UCF broadcast information
Tip: 3 P.M.
TV: ESPN+ Ted Emrich (play-by-play), Bryndon Manzer (analyst) RADIO: DOUBLE T 97.3 FM Geoff Haxton (play-by-play), Chris Level (analyst) Streaming: Varsity app
Texas Tech vs. UCF game notes
Texas Tech is averaging 75.0 points per game through nine Big 12 games which is the most for the program since 2001-02 when that team averaged 79.4 in conference play. The Red Raiders are currently the fourth-best scoring offense in the Big 12 within conference games, while they are at the top of the Big 12 stats by shooting 41.0 percent on 3-pointers and 76.5 on free throws.
UCF has had the week off after its win over the Sooners where Jaylin Sellers went off for 20 points, Antwann Jones had 15, and Darius Jackson scored 14. Sellers was 13-for-14 at the free-throw line in the win and comes into the first matchup against the Red Raiders leading the Knights with 17.2 points per game this season.
Isaacs leads the Big 12 with 19.4 ppg. in conference-only games after his 11 points at Baylor and 22 points against Cincinnati in the past two games. Isaacs is followed in the Big 12-only stats by KU's Hunter Dickinson (19.3), Max Abmas who is at 18.3 for Texas, and former Red Raider turned Jayhawk, Kevin McCullar (18.1). McCullar leads the Big 12 overall with 19.5 ppg. for the season while Isaacs is fourth going into this week at 17.3 ppg. through 22 games.
Tech has made 9 or more 3-pointers in 12 of 22 games this season after going 9-for-22 at No. 13 Baylor following a 5-for-15 performance against Cincinnati last Saturday. The Red Raiders were 14-for-28 at TCU for their best 3-point shooting in Big 12 play so far. The Red Raiders had a season-high 15 against Sam Houston in non-conference play. The 15 3-pointers against Sam Houston matched the second most in program history and fell just one shy of the program record of 16 3-pointers which has happened three times – most recently against Kansas in 2019.
Tech has been led in scoring by six different players in its 22 games after Toussaint had a team-high 18 points at Baylor. Isaacs led the team for the 10th time this season with his 22 against Cincinnati after 25 points at TCU last week. Isaacs had a streak of four straight game-high-scoring games before Toussaint's team-high 12 points against K-State. McMillian has led Tech in scoring in three games after his career-high 27 points at Oklahoma. He also led Tech with 24 points at Butler and 17 points in the win over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. Warren Washington was the sixth different leading scorer after he had his game-high 18 points against Oral Roberts in non-conference play.
Texas Tech vs. UCF prediction
If you believe in the desperate team theory then Texas Tech has to be your pick today. What's more, if you believe the better team usually wins, then you have to go with the Red Raiders as well.
Tech should be back to full health after dealing with the flu bug for the past week. That should also make people lean toward the Red Raiders in this contest.
If UCF has a game plan, it will be to keep this a low-scoring game and let their star guard Jaylin Sellers take over down the stretch. Hopefully, Tech's best player, Pop Isaacs, will answer, though, after he had a rough night against Baylor in Waco. Returning home should be a blessing for him after the ironic and hypocritical jeering he received from the folks at Foster Pavilion.
This is a matchup where UCF likely won't have the firepower to keep up with Tech in Lubbock. UCF is one of the worst offensive teams in the Big 12. They don't shoot the 3-pointer well, they don't shoot the 2-pointer all that well, they don't shoot free throws particularly well either.
UCF does have a good guard combo with Sellers and Darius Johnson averaging over 30 points per game between them. However, no other player on their team averages more than 9 points per game and their fourth-leading scorer averages just 7.3 points.
UCF also isn't an elite rebounding team ranking just 8th in the Big 12 in rebounding margin. That's good for a Tech team that is 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 the team with the bigger margin for error, especially in college sports, and today, that is Texas Tech. The Red Raiders are the far better shooting team and have many more offensive options to turn to. What's more, playing in Lubbock will give Tech a much-needed boost as they end their losing streak.
Texas Tech 74 - UCF 68