Texas Tech (2-1) vs. Texas Southern (2-2)
When: 8 p.m. CT Monday
Where: United Spirit Arena, Lubbock, Texas
Radio: Texas Tech Sports Network from Learfield Sports
The Matchup: The Texas Southern Tigers out of the SWAC may present a greater challenge to Texas Tech than one might expect. The Tigers, who boast a pair of Big 12 transfers in guard Ray Penn—formerly of Oklahoma State—and center Aaric Murray—previously a West Virginia player—have played some good basketball so far, but have not always been able to close out games. TSU won their opening two games against weak opposition (Norfolk State and Wiley College) by wide margins. The quality of the competition increased with Miami and Florida International on the slate, and Texas Southern fell by 15 at Miami and by two at Florida International. In both of those games, the Tigers held double-digit first half leads, but were unable to sustain them. Four Tigers average double digits in points. Murray leads with a 24 point average; Jose Rodriquez from the Bronx averages 17 points per contest; five-foot-nine Penn checks in with 15 points per game, and Lawrence Johnson-Danner averages 11.
The Red Raiders are still very much a work in progress, but are perhaps a bit more advanced than anticipated. The Red Raiders handled Houston Baptist and Northern Arizona without much trouble, but then stumbled against the Alabama Crimson Tide on the road. Tech was very competitive against Alabama, but saw the game get away from them in the final 98 seconds of the first half when a modest five-point deficit ballooned to 12. The trio of Robert Turner, Jordan Tolbert and Jaye Crockett is Tech's spearhead. Turner, the starting point guard, averages 16 points per contest, shoots 54 percent from the floor, 42 percent from beyond the arc, and has eight assists against five turnovers. Tolbert averages 15 points and nine boards per game and shoots 68 percent from the floor. Crockett has been good for 11 and six, is also shooting 68 percent from the floor, and has accounted for eight assists and six steals.
Tech player to watch: With the emergence of Robert Turner and the strong play of Jordan Tolbert, senior forward Jaye Crockett tends to get lost in the shuffle, and that's a mistake. Crockett, who finishes at the tin more spectacularly than any Tech player, is also an extremely versatile performer. He's a solid rebounder, can score from most places on the court, is an underrated passer and gets into passing lanes on defense.
Texas Southern player to watch: 6-foot-10 Aaric Murray has been nothing short of a monster through the first four games of the season. The talented but mercurial transfer from West Virginia averages 24 points, seven rebounds, three assists and five blocks per game. He also shoots a solid 72 percent from the charity stripe. It's not out of the question that Murray could have an NBA future.
Notable: TSU head coach Mike Davis was an assistant for former Tech head coach Bob Knight at the University of Indiana. In 2002 Davis led the Hoosiers to the national title game. After a stint at the University of Alabama-Birmingham, the Alabama native took over the TSU program last season and led it to the SWAC title.
Texas Tech opened the Progressive Legends Classic Monday with an 80-71 win over Texas Southern at…