Texas Tech basketball to face BYU in the Big 12 quarterfinals

The Red Raiders will have a rematch with the Cougars after winning 85-78 earlier this year in Lubbock.

Brigham Young v Texas Tech
Brigham Young v Texas Tech / John E. Moore III/GettyImages
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We now know who the Texas Tech basketball team will face on Thursday in the Big 12 Tournament quarterfinals. After an 87-73 win over UCF on Wednesday, the No. 5 seeded BYU Cougars will be the opening opponent for Grant McCasland and his squad in Kansas City.

This will be the second time Tech and BYU have met this year. Back on January 20, the Red Raiders and Cougars played a spirited affair in Lubbock.

That day, BYU jumped out to as much as a 17-point fist-half lead thanks to hot shooting and their unconventional offense which spaces the floor and leaves the defense susceptible to back-cuts and 3-point barrages.

That day, BYU shot 54.5% from the floor in the first 20 minutes. That included going 10-20 from beyond the arc as they built a 48-32 halftime lead.

Tech was able to flip the script in the second half, though. That was thanks in large part to a huge day from Pop Isaacs.

Setting a career-high with 32 points, he was 11-19 from the floor and 6-9 from 3-point range. He had 23 points after halftime to cue Tech's massive comeback.

Now, the teams will square off in Kansas City and it could be the big men that tell the story of the contest.

Texas Tech could still be without starting center Warren Washington, who has played only once since February 12 due to a toe injury. Against BYU in January, he posted 19 points and nine boards in one of his best games of the year. That day, he played 37 minutes but it is hard to imagine him giving his team anything close to that type of a performance after weeks of being sidelined, if he plays at all.

Meanwhile, in Lubbock, BYU was without its starting big man, Noah Waterman. The 6-foot-11 senior averages 9.8 points and 5.6 rebounds per game. What's more, he is a 37.4% shooter from 3-point range.

However, in his place, Ali Khalifa got the start and posted a big day. Nicknamed the "Egyptian Magician" he had 21 points and seven boards in the losing effort.

Much of what Khalifa did on that day was in the post where his size overwhelmed the Red Raiders. The 6-foot-11, 270-pound junior took advantage of a Tech team that was in foul trouble in the post as he shot 9-17 from the floor.

Wednesday in Kansas City, the Cougars had no trouble with the UCF Knights. Jumping out to a 47-38 halftime lead, they cruised to the win.

Interestingly, both Waterman and Khalifa started that game for BYU. Should they do that against Tech, that would give them a huge size advantage.

Waterman went for nine points and five rebounds while Khalifa posted eight points and five assists. Meanwhile, four of the nine Cougars that played scored in double figures but none had more than the 14 points of Fousseyni Traore, a backup forward.

Perhaps the Red Raiders will have an edge though, given that BYU will be playing on consecutive days for the first time in Big 12 play. Though their game against UCF was far from taxing, maybe the extra 40 minutes of basketball will slow them down just a bit.

Tech and BYU will meet at 11:30 CST on Thursday. The game can be seen on ESPN2 with the winner headed to the semifinals of the Big 12 Tournament.

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