Lubbock, TX (SportsNetwork.com) - A couple of Big 12 Conference powers from the Lone Star State get together on Saturday afternoon, as the Texas Tech Red Raiders host the 11th-ranked Texas Longhorns.
The Longhorns have dropped just two of their first 13 outings on the season, one of those coming against top-ranked Kentucky (63-51) in Lexington and the other a 74-71 overtime affair versus Stanford a few days before Christmas. The team bounced back from the loss to the Cardinal by taking out in-state rival Rice on Monday by a 66-55 final to wrap up a five-game homestand.
As for the Red Raiders, they too got off to a hot start with nine wins in 10 opportunities. However, their trip to Nevada to take part in the Las Vegas Classic leading up to Christmas exposed them a bit. The team lost on back-to- back days versus Loyola-Chicago and Houston by double figures. It did manage to rebound though, with a 60-45 romp over North Texas earlier this week.
Texas leads the all-time series by a 79-54 margin, although the Red Raiders won the most recent meeting, 59-53, on March 8, 2014 in Lubbock. Under head coach Rick Barnes, the Longhorns have won 12 of 16 conference openers.
Considering the 'Horns had 16 turnovers and shot only 27.3 percent from 3- point range while hosting Rice, the team was lucky to come away with the win, especially since the Owls, a team which is now 3-8, was completely out of its league. Jonathan Holmes registered a double-double with 12 points and a game- high 10 rebounds, helping to give Texas a 39-25 edge on the glass. Myles Turner was responsible for 16 points and Javan Felix another 10.
Holmes (12.5 ppg), Turner (12.0 ppg) and Felix (10.0 ppg) have all been trying to get by in the absence of Isaiah Taylor (14.0 ppg) who appeared in just three games before hitting the injury list with a wrist issue. However, on Friday it was announced that Taylor had been cleared to play, great news for sure with the Big 12 schedule in full swing. However, it remains to be seen whether or not Taylor will see action over the weekend since the Longhorns are still one of the top defensive teams in the country, allowing just 33.1 percent shooting from the floor and 55.1 ppg.
Facing off against another team from the state of Texas, the Red Raiders clamped down on defense versus North Texas, limiting the Mean Green to just 18 total field goals while also forcing 16 turnovers. The visitors were a mere 2- of-18 behind the 3-point line and just 7-of-16 at the free-throw line where they were outscored by 13. Devaugntah Williams was responsible for 14 points and Isaiah Manderson 10 for the hosts.
Even though he has come off the bench in five of 13 games, Williams is still the leading scorer for the program with 11.6 ppg. Williams has converted a solid 21-of-56 (.375) beyond the arc, which means the rest of the team has combined to knock down just 41 triples on 147 chances. Luckily, the defense has been rather stout with only 57.8 ppg allowed, stemming from 37.7 percent shooting from the floor and opponents hitting 64.2 percent at the free-throw line.