Texas Tech (7-4) versus Arizona State (9-2)
When: Saturday, December 21, 5:30 central time
Where: Tempe, Arizona
TV: PAC 12 Network
Radio: Texas Tech Sports Network from Learfield Sports
The Matchup: The Texas Tech football team will have its work cut out for it when it takes on Arizona State in the Holiday Bowl. The challenge facing the Red Raider basketball team will be just as daunting when they take on the Sun Devils in Tempe this Saturday.
ASU, like the LSU team Tech just faced, is not ranked but could very well be before all is said and done. The Sun Devils sport an impressive 9-2 record, which includes wins over the likes of Bradley, DePaul, UNLV and then No. 25 Marquette. Arizona State’s only losses were a 28-point beat-down at the hands of Creighton, and a three-point decision to Miami (Fla.).
The Sun Devils feature a tough trio of players surrounded by myriad role players. The big three are 5-foot-10 point guard Jahii Carson, 6-foot-4 off guard Jermaine Marshall, and 7-foot-2 hulkster Jordan Bachynski.
Carson is an extremely efficient player. He scores 20 points per game, grabs an amazing four boards per contest, and shoots 52 percent from the floor, including 50 percent from three-point country. Marshall chips in 14 points per contest while shooting 44 percent from beyond the arc. Clearly, perimeter defense will be a key for the Red Raiders. Complicating matters, however is the presence of Bachynski who scores 13 points per game, pulls down 10 boards per contest, shoots 63 percent and swats 4.5 shots each time he takes the hardwood.
As a team, the Sun Devils shoot 50 percent from the floor, 39 percent from three-point range, while holding opponents to 39 and 30 percent from the floor and deep, respectively.
Texas Tech pushed the envelope against LSU, but still is yet to break through against a truly high caliber opponent.
Like the Sun Devils, the Red Raiders are paced by three primary performers. Forwards Jaye Crockett and Jordan Tolbert average 14 and 12 points respectively, while each pulls down six boards per contest. Both are good interior defenders. Point guard Robert Turner scores 10 points per game and owns a healthy 2-to-1 assist/turnover ratio.
Tech outshoots its opponents 48 to 42 percent, shoots 73 percent from the free throw line and is plus-three in rebounding margin. A fatal weakness, however, has been perimeter defense. The Red Raiders allow 35 percent shooting from deep while shooting 32 percent themselves.
Tech Player to Watch: Toddrick Gotcher has become Tech’s most versatile player. A solidly put together 6-foot-4 sophomore, Gotcher leads Tech’s perimeter players in three-point shooting connecting on 42 percent of his offerings from deep, pulls down three rebounds per contest, plays good defense, and has recorded 22 assists while committing only eight turnovers.
Arizona State Player to Watch: Sophomore point guard Jahii Carson definitely has an NBA future. A much ballyhooed recruit who put up obscene numbers at Mesa, Arizona High, Carson is small in stature but plays far larger than his measurements. Now 5-foot-10, Carson supposedly could dunk when he was 5-foot-3. True or not, there’s little he can’t do on the basketball court.
Notable: Tech’s Tubby Smith and ASU’s Herb Sendek served together as assistants under Rick Pitino at Kentucky.
Brandan Kearney, a transfer from Michigan State and former Detroit Southeast prep star will become eligible just in time to face the Red Raiders.
Quotable: “A win tonight [versus LSU] would have gone a long ways—it would have given them some confidence, and me some confidence that they will do what they’re told. In any game, the team that makes the least amount of mistakes and makes the most shots is going to win.” -Tubby Smith