Texas Tech faces tall task in clash with No. 9 Iowa State

Lubbock, TX (SportsNetwork.com) - Hoping to put the brakes on a six-game losing streak, the Texas Tech Red Raiders entertain the ninth-ranked Iowa State Cyclones in Big 12 Conference action at United Supermarkets Arena on Saturday afternoon.

Iowa State enters the fray having won two in a row and four of its last five games overall to raise its season record to 14-3, and its league ledger to 4-1. The Cyclones have beaten both Big 12 teams from the state of Kansas in the last week, first topping the KU Jayhawks, 86-81, and then the KSU Wildcats, 77-71. This bout marks only the fourth true road game for Iowa State (2-1), with the lone setback coming the last time it was away from Ames, 74-73, at Baylor on Jan. 14.

Despite a record that has the team a game over .500 at the moment, Texas Tech (10-9) has largely disappointed as it attempts once again to notch its first conference win of the season. A 63-43 loss at Oklahoma State on Wednesday night was the Red Raiders' sixth straight setback, all in conference, and the squad has lost eight of its last nine games overall.

Iowa State leads the all-time series with Texas Tech, 14-11, and the Cyclones have won the last three, and five of the last six meetings overall. The teams will square off in Ames on Feb. 7 to close out the regular-season series.

Iowa State put five players in double figures, and each of those efforts was needed as the team slipped past Kansas State earlier in the week, winning by six points at home. Jameel McKay came off the bench to score 15 points to lead the Cyclones, while Georges Niang added 14 points, Monte' Morris and Abdel Nadeer 11 apiece, and Naz Long 10 for an ISU squad that shot better in the first half (.500) than it did in the second (.393), but tallied 17 points at the free-throw line while committing only seven turnovers. The Cyclones grabbed twice as many offensive rebounds as did the Wildcats (12-6), earning a 24-6 edge in second-chance points as a result.

All five starters are averaging double digits in the scoring column for Iowa State, which puts up 80.1 ppg in hitting 48.7 percent of its field goal attempts. The team's defensive stance yields 67.1 ppg, and it goads the opposition into nearly 14 turnovers per outing. Niang (14.8 ppg, 5.5 rpg) paces the unit in both scoring and rebounding, and the four other starters net between 10.2 and 12.8 ppg, and McKay produces 9.8 ppg as the potential sixth double-digit scorer. In addition to his own scoring exploits, Morris serves as the team's primary playmaker with 5.8 apg, the Cyclones being credited with 18.4 helpers per contest.

For the second straight game and fourth time this season, Texas Tech was held below 50 points as it dropped a 20-point decision at Oklahoma State a few days back. Keenan Evans scored 18 points in 26 minutes of action off the bench, but he was the only TTU player to reach double figures as the team made good on only 27.8 percent of its field goal attempts, missing the mark on 12 of its 16 3-point tries along the way. Meanwhile, the Cowboys nailed nine treys, and outscored the Red Raiders both in points off turnovers (13-4) and fast break points (16-4).

Save for a game here or there, and mostly against inferior competition, Texas Tech has failed to generate much in the way of consistent offensive production, the team averaging a lackluster 63.9 ppg behind typical shooting efforts of .408 overall, .302 from beyond the arc and .649 at the charity stripe. Devaugntah Williams is the Red Raiders' lone double-digit scorer, but he is barely there as he nets 10.4 ppg. Fortunately, the Red Raiders have performed well at the defensive end for the most part, as they yield 61.5 ppg as foes are connecting on only 40.0 percent of their total shots, and 32.9 percent of their long-range launches.