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Basketball Preview: We’re Talking Taco Tech

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Except these tacos made it to a national championship

NCAA Basketball: Texas Tech at Kansas State Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports

Texas Tech has ascended the Big 12 ranks from a bottom feeder to one of the premiere conference team in three years, and Chris Beard’s overnight transformation of the program has turned Lubbock into one of the hardest road games on the schedule. Texas Tech is down on talent, but will still be incredibly well coached.

Iowa State is in the teeth of a brutal stretch in conference play, and it doesn’t get any easier for them today. Even coming off of a double digit loss to Baylor, this team has came a long way since the dog days of late December.

Last Time Out

The first half was tight the whole way. The Cyclones kept it a low scoring affair, and the Bears weren’t able to get into an offensive groove the first twenty minutes. However, the last play of the first half was a bit of a sigh and an eye roll.

Davion Mitchell got a steal with less than ten seconds left and took off down the court. Instead of layup, Mitchell opted for a three point shot, knowing Tre Jackson was hot on his tail. Jackson fouled Mitchell, and the Bears made three free throws to push the half time lead to 30-25.

Mitchell would come out of the second half guns blazing, knocking down two 3’s and Baylor put a quick run together that would keep Iowa State out of striking distance the remainder of the game.

Not a single Cyclone made it to double digits in scoring. Tyrese had an off night in shooting and no one was able to step in to fill that offensive production.

About Texas Tech

Last year Texas Tech was a ragtag group of graduate transfers, four year seniors, and an NBA prospect in Jarret Culver. They had experience, good shooters, great defense, and an obvious star in Culver.

This year Beard has had to rely a lot more on freshmen to get the job done. The Red Raiders leading scorer is Jahmi’us Ramsey, who could win Big 12 Newcomer of the Year. Ramsey is an electric guard, averaging 16.3 a game.

Texas Tech comes into the game with an 11-5 record and 2-2 in conference play. They had a three game losing streak in late November early December where they fell to Iowa, Creighton and DePaul before they righted the ship. Their only other defeats have come by Baylor and West Virginia, two of the top teams in the country.

Texas Tech is 11th in adjusted defense efficiency per KenPom, but they don’t blow you away in one statistic. This is a solid team that has a defensive identity, and has a great home court atmosphere.

Player to Watch

Jahmi’us Ramsey will most likely score the most points, but Chris Clarke is the reason Texas Tech has been so hard to beat as of late. Beard relies on grad transfers to come in and play big time minutes; Clarke played three years at Virginia Tech before sitting out during the Red Raiders national championship run, and is playing his 4th year of college basketball.

Clarke is a 6’6 ‘guard’ who leads Texas Tech in assists, and rebounds? It’s not really a fluke either. Clarke is averaging almost 6 assists, the second closest is Kylar Edwards with 3.8. And he’s averaging 3.3 more rebounds than anyone else on his team at 8.4. A statistical anomaly to say the least.

These hard working, grit ‘n grind transfers that Beard has been able to snatch from other schools almost got him a championship last year, and continues to be a strategy Texas Tech is invested in.

What Will Happen

This game should be our first close game since TCU. Iowa State has either won or lost by double digits in their last three games. I expect this one to come down to the wire in Lubbock.

Like Oklahoma, this team plays small with their tallest guy out there being 6’8” or 6’6” most of the time. If the Cyclones are able to out rebound Tech, I like their chances. And if the Cyclones shoot well like they did against Oklahoma, another big win is possible. Also, we’re 3-0 after double digit losses.

Cyclones- 63

Texas Tech- 58

Pick 3

  1. Tyrese bounces back, and calls God after a big time three down the stretch.
  2. Conditt has a career day against a smaller Texas Tech front court.
  3. We hear about how Beard has built this program from the ashes a nauseating amount.

Game Notes

The Matchup: Iowa State (8-8, 1-3 Big 12) vs. Texas Tech (11-5, 2-2 Big 12)

Where: United Supermarkets Arena- Lubbock, TX (15,098)

When: Saturday, January 18, 2020; Tip 3:00pm

Radio: Cyclone Radio Network/TuneIn Radio Talent: John Walters (PxP), Eric Heft (Analyst)

TV: ESPN+

Betting Lines: Texas Tech -7.5

Live Stats: Cyclonestats.com