Texas Tech (13-11, 5-6) versus No. 11 Iowa State (18-5, 6-5)
Where: Ames, Iowa, Hilton Coliseum
When: 12:30 p.m. (CT) Saturday
TV: Big 12 Sports Network (U-Verse 14, Suddenlink 6, DirecTV 640, Dish 432)
Radio: Texas Tech Sports Network from Learfield Sports
The Matchup: Since defeating Tech in Lubbock earlier in the season the Iowa State Cyclones have gone 5-5, and are currently ranked No. 11. Most recently, the Cyclones put together a three-game conference win streak by beating Oklahoma, Oklahoma State (triple overtime), and TCU, before falling at West Virginia. The loss to the Mountaineers came by a devastating 25-point margin. Rarely does ISU lose any basketball game by such a wide margin. It will be interesting to see where the team’s confidence level is when they take on the Red Raiders.
Averaging 85 points per game, Iowa State is the most potent offensive team in the Big 12. Melvin Ejim’s 19 points per game paces the squad, with Georges Niang and DeAndre Kane chipping in 16 points each, and Dustin Hogue dumping in an additional 11 points per outing. The Cyclones shoot 47 percent from the floor, 34 percent from three, and 70 percent from the line. They are also a modest plus-one in rebounding margin.
The Cyclones will face a Red Raider team that has been on a tear. Winners of three straight, including a convincing eight-point victory over Oklahoma on the road (ISU lost in Norman), Texas Tech is a far better outfit than the one Iowa State handled in Lubbock.
Whereas the Cyclones have the conference’s most proficient offense, Texas Tech boasts its best defense. The Red Raiders hold opponents to 68 points per game, 43 percent shooting, and 34 percent accuracy from deep. Tech is also plus-three in rebounding margin.
The continued leader of the team is Jaye Crockett who averages 15 points and seven boards per outing. He also shoots 83 percent from the charity stripe. Helping Crockett out is a cast of thousands. Jordan Tolbert, Robert Turner, Dusty Hannahs, Toddrick Gotcher, Dejan Kravic, Randy Onwuasor, Kader Tapsoba and Jamal Williams have all played critical roles in Tech’s emergence as a very tough basketball team.
Tech Player to Watch: Point guard Robert Turner has suffered some slings and arrows in his short time in Lubbock, but he’s been good more often than bad. Turner puts up 10 points per game, is second in the Big 12 in steals, has a 2/1 assist/turnover ratio, and pulls down three boards per contest. When he’s on his game, he provides the Red Raiders with an added dimension.
Iowa State Player to Watch: Forward Melvin Ejim is a hoss and make no mistake. One of the very top scorers in the Big 12 at 19 points per game, Ejim also snatches nine boards per game, has a positive assist/turnover ratio, is a good for a steal a game, and shoots 36 percent from beyond the arc. He’s a legitimate candidate for Big 12 Player of the Year honors.
Notable: The last time Texas Tech won conference road games back-to-back was January, 2005 when they bumped off Kansas State and Missouri.
Quotable: “We have to stay mentally focused and do everything right on defense, stick to our principles and try to reach perfect defense. Coach preaches that every day, just trying to aim for a perfect possession every time on defense. That’ll help us win games.” —Tech point guard Robert Turner