Texas Tech Hosts No. 19 Oklahoma State

Dejan Kravic

The Red Raiders host a reeling No. 19 Oklahoma State squad 8:30 Saturday at United Spirit Arena. The USA is expected to be packed full for the first time since 2007 and just the 11th time in 15 years.

Texas Tech (11-11 3-6) versus Oklahoma State (16-6 4-5)

Where: Lubbock, Texas, United Spirit Arena

When: Saturday, February 8, 8:30 p.m. (CT)

TV: ESPNU

Radio: Texas Tech Sports Network from Learfield Sports

The Matchup: In case you hadn't heard, the once high-flying Cowboys have encountered a spot of trouble as of late. Oklahoma State has lost three games in a row, and four of their last five, and their All Everything Naismith Award Candidate Marcus Smart is going to the press to plead his case about "flopping."

Yes, these are trying times in the idyllic hamlet of Stillwater, but a cowboy is most dangerous when wounded in his bunkhouse. Expect Travis Ford's drovers to be spitting plenty o' tobacco juice when they hit the floor in Lubbock.

When the Cowboys are their deadliest, they tend to kayo their opponent in the first half. On average, OSU leads 41-31 going into the halftime break.

Oklahoma State does damage both offensively and defensively. They shoot 48 percent from the floor, 37 percent from three, and 72 percent from the line. They limit opponents to 40 percent shooting from the floor, and 32 percent from deep. The Cowboys are not, however, a particularly good rebounding team. They are exactly even-Steven in rebounding margin.

The aforementioned Smart leads OSU in scoring at 17 points per game, but is shooting a fairly frosty 42 percent from the floor and 28 percent from downtown. Fellow guard Markel Brown is arguably having a better year than Smart. He also averages 17 points per contest, but is shooting 49 percent from the field and 38 percent from deep while shooting five percent better than Smart from the charity stripe, owning a better assist/turnover ratio, pulling down an equal number of rebounds, and recording more than twice as many blocked shots. Let the Team MVP controversy commence!

The Red Raiders would be glad of any distraction for the Cowboys because they've got an off-the-court issue of their own. The game against Oklahoma State is officially a sellout. It is Tech's first sellout since a January 1, 2007 bout with New Mexico that Tech won 70-68.

The entire Red Raider program is obviously pointing toward this game, and one hopes that the team doesn't come out tight or too jacked up because of it. The pressure to impress a sellout home crowd will be considerable.

Psychological issues aside, Tech is coming off a home win over TCU in which they played adequately at best. The Red Raiders have also had an entire week without a game in which to rest up and to prepare thoroughly for the Cowboys. The extended time off is a proverbial "x factor" and nobody can say for certain whether it will swing in favor of or against the home team. (Hmm, there's another psychological issue.)

The Red Raiders continue to maintain their customary plus-four rebounding edge, and are outshooting their opponents 47 to 43 percent, but are being outshot from three 34 to 33 percent. Free throw shooting (75%) also continues to be a team strength.

Jaye Crockett's 14 points and 6 rebounds per game paces the Red Raiders. Truthfully, his is the only stat line that catches the eye on a team filled with role players who unpredictably manifest themselves and vanish on a game-by-game basis. You just never know for certain which players are going to bring their game.

Tech Player to Watch: Big man Dejan Kravic is not the team's MVP—that honor belongs to Crockett—but he might be runner-up. He averages seven points and five rebounds per outing, leads the squad in blocked shots and is a deft interior passer.

Oklahoma State Player to Watch: Marcus Mart, Markel Brown and Le'Bryan Nash get all the pub, but Phil Forte may be the guy most likely to put a dagger in the opposition's heart. He averages a very respectable 12 points per game, but more to the point, shoots a dumbfounding 47 percent from three-point range.

Notable: Jaye Crockett will almost certainly finish his Tech career with in excess of 1,000 points, 600 rebounds, 100 steals and 100 assists. If he does, he will join Andre Emmett, Jason Sasser, Martin Zeno, and Will Flemons as Red Raiders who have accomplished that feat.

Quotable: "It shows the hard work of a lot of people to make this happen. We hope that we can play to the level of support that we have gotten. I am excited and our players are excited. It also gives validation that we are moving in the right direction with the program." Tubby Smith on the sellout

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