Texas Tech (6-3) versus Central Arkansas (2-4)
When: 1 p.m. Sunday (CT)
Where: Lubbock, Texas, United Spirit Arena
TV: Fox Sports Southwest+
Radio: Texas Tech Sports Network by Learfield Sports
The matchup: The Central Arkansas Bears of the Southland Conference, led by interim coach Clarence Finley, have struggled in 2013. UCA’s two wins have come against Hendrix College and Troy. And when they’ve lost they’ve tended to lose big—by 37 points to Louisiana Tech, 43 points to Arkansas State, and 33 points to Kansas State.
Despite the rough start to the season, 6-foot-6 freshman small forward Jalen Jackson of West Memphis, Arkansas (Jackson attended the same high school as former Memphis State and NBA star Keith Lee) has been an extremely bright spot. Jackson is averaging 14 points, five rebounds and two steals per game, while leading the Bears in assists with 15. Jackson also shoots an exceptional 53 percent from the floor, 52 percent from three-point range, and 78 percent from the charity stripe. He is a very good young player.
Guard Deshone McClure is Central Arkansas’ second leading scorer with 13 points per game, while 6-foot-4 guard Daouda Berete of Guinea is a defensive specialist who can steal the ball with aplomb.
As a team, the Bears shoot only 42 percent from the floor and 63 percent from the free throw line, but do shoot a very respectable 38 percent from beyond the arc. And CAU has taken a whopping 139 attempts from three-point country. Central Arkansas is minus-9 for the season in rebounding margin, and also turns the ball over slightly more than their opponents, but is rather adept in stealing the ball, averaging almost 10 steals per contest.
The forward tandem of Jaye Crockett and Jordan Tolbert lead Tech in scoring with 14 and 13 points per game respectively, and rebounding with seven and six caroms per contest. Crockett also has 11 steals, while Tolbert has registered 14 blocked shots. Point guard Robert Turner averages 11 points per contest, and has 25 assists to only 11 turnovers, but shoots a substandard 39 percent from the floor.
The Red Raiders outshoot their opponents 49 to 41 percent and are plus two in rebounding margin.
Tech player to watch: Redshirt freshman forward Aaron Ross, a native of North Little Rock, Arkansas, had a coming out party of sorts against the No. 2 ranked Arizona Wildcats in Tech’s last outing. Ross scored 10 points in 25 minutes of play and connected on four of five attempts from the floor. He also dished out a pair of assists and blocked a shot. It is clear that Ross is rapidly adjusting to the college game.
Central Arkansas player to watch: The aforementioned freshman forward Jalen Jackson, carrying a slight 205 pounds on his 6-foot-6 frame, has been a real life preserver for Clarence Finley’s club. Coming out of high school, Jackson was rated the nation’s No. 115 prospect by one recruiting service.
Notable: Sixteen of Central Arkansas’ 17 players hail from Arkansas, Texas and Oklahoma. NBA Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen did his thing at Central Arkansas before moving on to the Chicago Bulls. Former University of Arkansas Razorback All American and longtime NBA performer Corliss “The Big Nasty” Williamson coached CAU for three seasons before abruptly resigning in August, 2013 to take an assistant coach position with the Sacramento Kings.
Quotable: “It [the Arizona game] will have a great impact because we have now played against one of the best. In the Big 12, there are a couple of top 10 teams. We just played against the No. 2 team and now we know what is going to come up so we won't be surprised by it when it does"—Tech forward Aaron Ross.