Junior point guard Robert Turner is excited about Texas Tech men’s basketball’s return to United Spirit Arena this afternoon.
“I can’t wait to play in front of that crowd again and how loud it was and how they had our back,” Turner said. “They always say the crowd is like the sixth man, and it really was. It’d be big to have a lot of people like that again.”
As he did before the Baylor game last week, Tubby Smith was at the Student Union on Friday afternoon, along with women’s basketball head coach Candi Whitaker, passing out hot dogs and encouraging students to come out to the game and participate in the white-out today.
The Red Raiders are looking to get its second straight top 25 upset at home.
Tech is looking to win consecutive Big 12 home games for the first time since 2011 and consecutive wins at home over ranked opponents for the first time since beating No. 5 Kansas and No. 6 Texas A&M in Jan. 2007.
For this to happen, the Red Raiders need to step up their defense, after allowing West Virginia to make .537 percent of its shots from the floor, the second highest percentage Tech has allowed all season.
“We let them drive to the rim easily and they had too many open three pointers,” senior forward Dejan Kravic said. “We’re just focusing on that and closing out stronger and not let our man get by us.”
Smith feels that keeping his team fresh will help keep the defensive intensity up for a full 40 minutes.
“I think that was our problem the other night,” Smith said. “They logged too many minutes. … When we do put guys in the game, we’ve got to have some production out of them.”
Tech faces a challenging Oklahoma offense this afternoon, led by the No. 5 and No. 7 scorers in the Big 12, senior forward Cameron Clark and sophomore guard Buddy Hield.
Clark is averaging 17.0 points per game and is shooting .442 from behind the arc.
Hield is putting up 16.6 points per game, and it’s important not to let him get his feet set from downtown.
He’s second in the conference with 3.6 threes per Big 12 game.
Sophomore guard Isaiah Cousins comes in averaging 10.6 poitns per game on .463 percent shooting from the floor.
Freshman guard Jordan Woodeard leads Big 12 freshmen and sophomores with 4.5 assists.
Two-time Big 12 Newcomer of the Week and the Big 12’s leading rebounder Ryan Spangler is averaging 11.3 points and 9.8 boards per game.
In the last four games, he put up 14.3 points and 13.5 boards a contest.
“We’ve got to hit him first and go after the rebound,” Kravic said.
On the glass, Smith has emphasized to his guards the importance of boxing out and getting to the rim.
“Guards come in sometimes and get a lot of rebounds and that’s our fault and a lack of boxing out at the perimeter,” Turner said. “We’re going to make sure we crash the boards (today).”
Another thing Smith wants to see from his team his getting the ball inside, as the Mountaineers edged Texas Tech in the paint 28-22 earlier this week.
“Both Dejan and Jordan want to be guards and that’s just the way it is,” Smith said. “They always seem to be away from the basket when they catch it. It’s either good defense, or we’re not being physical and aggressive enough to hold position in there.”
While Tech struggled getting the ball inside against West Virginia, sophomore Dusty Hannahs set a Big 12 record on 7-of-7 shooting from downtown.
“I’m going to look for him in transition, wherever he is, just find him,” Turner said. “I know he’s going to be looking to have a game like that again. I hope he is and I hope he’s ready to shoot it because it’s coming to him.”
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