Oklahoma basketball: Sooners face Texas Tech, possibly Big 12’s best team

LUBBOCK, TX - FEBRUARY 17: Toddrick Gotcher
LUBBOCK, TX - FEBRUARY 17: Toddrick Gotcher /

Who would have thought at the beginning of this Oklahoma basketball season we would be previewing Tuesday night’s game with Texas Tech as a battle of top-25 teams?

It gets even better. Texas Tech, a team that won six of 18 Big 12 games a year ago, comes to Lloyd Noble Center as co-leaders in the Big 12 with three wins in as many games. The Red Raiders’ 14-1 overall record has earned them a No. 8 ranking nationally, one spot higher than the Sooners (12-2, 2-1), who sit a No. 9 this week in both the Associated Press Top 25 and the USA Today Coaches Poll.

Oklahoma is 7-0 at the Lloyd Noble Center this season and is 10-1 playing at home in the Lon Kruger coaching era when both teams are ranked in the AP Top 25. The game is scheduled to tip off at 6 p.m. and will be televised on ESPNU.

Tuesday night’s game with the red-hot Red Raiders features several intriguing story lines, one of which centers around Sooner super freshman point guard Trae Young, whose father Rayford played basketball at Texas Tech from 1996-2000. The elder Young averaged 14.1 points, 3.8 assists and 3.2 rebounds a game for the Red Raiders.

Trae is the nation’s leading scorer, averaging 29.4 points per game for the nation’s highest-scoring offense. Oklahoma was held to just 76 points by West Virginia on Saturday, 18 points below its season average of 94.4 points a game. The Sooners have gone over the century mark three times this season, including the last time out at Lloyd Noble Center, a 109-89 pasting of Bedlam rival Oklahoma State, and have scored 80 or more points in 13 of 14 games this season.

West Virginia is holding opponents this season to 65.7 points a game, and the Mountaineers full-court on-ball pressure greatly stymied the OU offensive rhythm this past weekend. Texas Tech is allowing even fewer points a game than West Virginia.

The Red Raiders have limited their opponents to 59.2 points a game, the fourth-best defensive average in the country. They allowed 89 points in a 10-point loss to 13th-ranked Seton Hall earlier in the season, but other than that only three opponents have scored as many as 70 points.

Texas Tech pulled off one of the rarest feats in college basketball, beating Kansas 85-73 last week at Allen Fieldhouse, and held Kansas State to just 58 points in a 74-58 home win on Saturday.

The Red Raiders are definitely getting it done on the defensive end so far this season. They are holding teams to just 37-percent shooting overall and 29.4-percent from the three-point line. In addition, they lead the Big 12 in rebounding margin (+8.5) and are second in steals (9.3) and turnover margin (+8.3).

Needless to say, the Sooners will have to play at their very best against the Red Raiders on Tuesday to avoid losing their first game at home this season.

Senior guard Keenan Evans leads Texas Tech in scoring, averaging 17.2 per game. The Red Raiders average right at 40 points in the opening half but are outscoring their opponents by 207 points in the opening 20 minutes. None of the other starters scores in double digits, but don’t be misled by that because Tech gets excellent production off the bench, with Zhaire Smith and Jarrett Culver averaging over 10 points each.

Oklahoma is 38-23 against Texas Tech on the hardwood all-time, and the Sooners have won seven of the last 10 games between the two teams. OU owns a 23-7 advantage in games played in Norman, including wins in six of the last seven games played at Lloyd Noble Center.

Here are some fast-break, fun facts to keep in mind for Tuesday nights top-10 showdown:

  • This is the second consecutive game Oklahoma has played a team ranked directly ahead of them in the rankings.
  • The Sooners high point total (94.4 per contest) is largely because they like to play fast. Tuesday night’s game with Texas Tech features two teams with polar-opposite styles of play. The Red Raiders like to play slow and deliberate. OU ranks first among the major college basketball conferences, averaging 13.8 seconds per possession.
  • Oklahoma is 10-1 in its last 11 games and 7-0 this season when it shoots better than 50 percent and dishes out at least 20 assists.