Texas Tech (6-2) vs. No. 2 Arizona (7-0)
When: Tuesday, 8 p.m. central time
Where: Tucson, Arizona, McKale Center
TV: Pac 12 Network
Radio: Texas Tech Sports Network by Learfield Sports
The Matchup: The undefeated and fourth ranked Arizona Wildcats will obviously present a monumental challenge to the Texas Tech Red Raiders, but it is by no means certain the Pac 12 power is any better than the Pitt Panther team Tech confronted earlier in the season. Unlike the Panthers, who have steamrolled all opposition, the Wildcats have looked beatable at times. Cal-Poly played AU to within 11 points in the season opener; San Diego State fell by only nine to the Wildcats, and the Drexel Dragons made Arizona sweat before falling 66-62. Now having said that, the Wildcats did bump off mighty Duke in their last outing, so it’s possible that Sean Miller’s team simply plays as well as it must in order to win.
Statistically, Arizona is dominant in most areas. They outshoot their opponents 51 to 35 percent, outrebound them by 14 per contest, and have more than twice as many blocked shots than their opponents. Surprisingly enough, however, the Wildcats average 12 turnovers per game while forcing only ten per outing.
Guard Nick Johnson leads the Wildcats in scoring with 17 points per game, while also managing to yank down 4.4 caroms per outing. Johnson shoots very well from the field, the three-point line and the charity stripe. Freshman Aaron Gordon leads Arizona in rebounding, snagging nine rebounds per game, and he also contributes 12 points per contest. Gordon only shoots 55 percent from the free throw line, however.
Texas Tech, which is coming off a 30-point victory over UT-San Antonio, outscores its opponents by an average of eight points per game, outshoots them 50 percent to 40, has a rebounding advantage of five per contest, and has 17 more blocked shots than its opponents.
Ultra-consistent forward Jaye Crockett leads the Red Raiders in scoring, rebounding and shooting percentage, with 15, seven and 68 percent from the floor. If he can continue this stellar play against better competition, basketball people around the nation will learn his name. Fellow forward Jordan Tolbert chips in 13 points and seven rebounds per contest.
Tech Player to Watch: Freshman backup point guard Randy Onwuasor had a breakout game of sorts against UTSA, scoring 15 points on six-of-seven shooting. He is giving indication that he could play the two position as well as the one, and it will be interesting to see if Tubby Smith decides to play him alongside Robert Turner some instead of only in his stead.
Arizona Player to Watch: 6-foot-3 junior guard Nick Johnson is having an All America type season so far. Outside of perhaps turning the ball over too much (he averages more than two turnovers per game), there are no real chinks in his armor.
Notable: Wildcat forward Brandon Ashley is the son of Damon Ashley, who played at Texas Tech under James Dickey in the early nineties.
Quotable: “I think we can be special, no question. And one of the things to watch is we have to be an elite defensive team. We have to be able to get stops. We have to be able to use our size rebounding, and we have to continue to develop and improve”—Arizona coach Sean Miller