Texas Tech basketball looking for critical road win at No. 11 Oklahoma

The No. 20 Texas Tech basketball team will try to enhance its tournament resume by knocking off No.11 Oklahoma in Norman on Saturday.
Brigham Young v Texas Tech
Brigham Young v Texas Tech / John E. Moore III/GettyImages

be takenIf the Texas Tech basketball team wants to be taken seriously as a Big 12 contender, it is going to have to string together some important road wins against top conference rivals. Thus far, Tech is 1-1 on the road in league play and Saturday presents another opportunity to beef up the NCAA Tournament resume by going into the home arena of a high-quality opponent and coming out with a win against No. 11 Oklahoma.

Texas Tech and Oklahoma appear to be evenly matched

Entering this contest, there doesn't appear to be a huge advantage for either squad. The ESPN.com matchup predictor gives the Sooners a 63.8% chance of prevailing but this game feels much more like a potential toss-up than that.

Tech sits atop the Big 12 standings at 4-1, the only team in the league with just one conference loss, while the Sooners are 3-3. Of course, all are expecting the Sooners to play with urgency and hunger after they dropped a home game to Texas 75-60 on Tuesday night.

These teams are rather similar in terms of offensive productivity with OU averaging 78.2 points per game (6th in the Big 12) and Tech averaging 76.7 (9th in the Big 12). What's more, on defense, they are even closer with OU giving up 65.5 p.p.g. (5th in the Big 12) and Tech giving up 66.2 (6th in the Big 12).

Both teams also have similar NCAA Tournament resumes with each being 2-3 in Quad 1 games. Thus, the team that comes out on top will take a huge step toward solidifying its spot in the Big Dance.

Where Oklahoma has an edge over Texas Tech

If the Sooners are going to defeat Texas Tech, the boards are likely going to be a huge reason why. That's because OU is a much stronger rebounding team.

When it comes to rebounding margin, OU ranks 5th in the conference at +6.3. Meanwhile, Tech is 13th at +2.8.

However, in OU's last game, they were dominated on the glass. Texas owned a 40-24 edge in that critical statistic which helped them pull off the road upset. Interestingly, though, in their other two conference losses thus far, the Sooners actually managed to win the battle of the boards (against TCU and Kansas).

On the other hand, Tech has lost the rebounding battle in four of its five Big 12 games. The only team Tech has out-rebounded in league play has been currently winless Oklahoma State, which Tech beat by only one rebound.

Where Texas Tech has an advantage over Oklahoma

The 3-point arc could be where the Red Raiders achieve separation on Saturday. Though playing in an opponent's arena usually makes for a tougher shooting day, the Red Raiders are a much better 3-point shooting team than the Sooners are.

At 36.7% as a team from deep, Tech is third in the Big 12. Meanwhile, OU shoots just 34.1% as a team, 9th in the Big 12.

In total, Tech averages 8.6 makes from beyond the arc per game. OU averages 7.4.

Along those lines, OU has shot just 27.3% from 3-point range in its four losses this year. In none of those games did the Sooners shoot over 31% from downtown. Thus, Tech has to keep the Sooners from getting hot from long range on Saturday.

Texas Tech and Oklahoma are both guard-driven teams

It will be fascinating to see how this game plays out because each of these teams is led in scoring by a pair of guards. While Tech's Pop Isaacs and Joe Toussaint average 30.2 points per game between them, OU's two leading scorers, guards Javian McCollum and Otega Oweh are combining for 28.4 p.p.g.

What is telling about OU, though, is that no other player on the roster scores over 10 points per game. The Sooners do have six players averaging between 9.7 and 6.4 p.p.g. though meaning their scoring depth could be an asset.

Texas Tech vs. Oklahoma: Key Matchup

The key individual matchup in this game could be Tech's Darrion Williams against OU's Jalon Moore. Williams is a glue guy for Tech who averages 9.3 points and 6.8 rebounds per game while Moore, a 6-foot-7 junior, averages 9.7 points and 5.8 rebounds.

Williams is coming off of two relatively quiet games. Against Houston and BYU he put up only 12 total points and 12 total rebounds.

Meanwhile, Moore has scored 16 and 15 points in two of his last three games. That includes a 15-point, five-rebound effort in his last game out.

Moore is an athletic wing who can take over games and he will be a tough defensive assignment for Williams. It will be imperative that Williams plays him close to even and that he manages to impact this game more significantly than he has Tech's last two, especially given that the Sooners will likely throw overeating they have at Pop Isaacs in an attempt to slow the Big 12's leading scorer in conference play.