The belief of Texas Tech men’s basketball came to fruition a month ago with a statement win over No. 12 Baylor.
Since then, the Red Raiders have upset No. 19 Oklahoma State and won on the road at Oklahoma.
“At the beginning of the year, our guys were believing,” head coach Tubby Smith said. “Getting a signature win against Baylor, I saw a change in our players. ... Up until then, they do want to believe, but you’ve got to have tangible evidence that it’s working.”
Now, Texas Tech looks to win six Big 12 games for the first time since 2008 today at 12:47 p.m. against No. 11 Iowa State in Hilton Coliseum.
The Red Raiders should expect some Hilton Magic as the Cyclones take the court for the first time since their 102-77 loss at West Virginia on Monday.
Don’t let that lopsided score fool you; that’s just how things go in the Big 12 this season.
Senior forward Jaye Crockett said that his team, coming in with a three game win streak, has to keep a level head.
“You can lose at any time,” he said. “With this conference being so tough, it’s so random the teams who are winning. You never know who’s going to step up so you have to give your all.”
Iowa State enters today’s game leading the conference in scoring with 84.7 points per game.
Three Cyclones average at lease 15 points per game - Melvin Ejim with 19.1, Georges Niang with 16.2 and DeAndre Kane with 15.9.
Ejim recently set a Big 12 record against TCU with a 48 point performance.
He is the Big 12’s leading scorer.
As the five, Niang has led the Cyclones from behind the arc since Jan. 18, shooting 18-of-35 from three.
With Dustin Hogue and Monte Morris filling out the usual starting five, Iowa State can score from all five positions.
“We have to make sure we put hands in their face and get them to penetrate and cause some turnovers,” Crockett said.
Freshman Matt Thomas comes off the bench to pitch in seven points per game and shoots 33 percent from behind the arc.
“Not only do they have good starters but they have a good bench,” Smith said. “We’ll have to have our best game.”
Besides scoring the ball, Iowa State is also one of the best in taking care of it.
The Cyclones lead the Big 12 and are No. 2 in the country with a 1.72 assist to turnover ratio.
Morris leads the Big 12 with a 5.2 assist to turnover ratio and has been better in conference play at 7.8.
In the previous meeting this season between these teams, Tech committed 13 turnovers while the Cyclones only had five.
“They do a lot of isolation one-on-one play,” Smith said. “We have to do a better job than we did, especially against Niang and Morris who came in and played well, (along with) Kane and Ejim. We’ve got our work cut out for us defensively. If we can take care of the basketball and raise our level of intensity defensively, we’re going to be okay.”
Offensively, one major factor in Tech’s three game win streak is the play of its bench.
Sophomore guard Dusty Hannahs has embraced the sixth man role and averages 11.3 points per game in Big 12 play.
Seniors forward Kader Tapsoba and guard Jamal Williams along with freshman point guard Randy Onwuasor have played big minutes for Texas Tech.
“Kader, who hadn’t played much, but is one of our most energetic guys in practice, the same with Jamal,” Smith said. “Guys who haven’t played muc but when they’re called on the last few games, they’ve stepped up and played extremely well. That’s the thing about their attitudes. They stay positive and it shows in our play.”
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Side by side
71.6 Scoring 84.7
.466 Field Goal Pct. .471
.329 3-Point Pct. .343
.743 Free Throw Pct. .704
33.4 Rebounds 39.3
12.0 Assists 18.5
11.7 Turnovers 10.7
6.1 Steals 6.4
4.0 Blocks 2.9
Who: Texas Tech at No. 11 Iowa State
When: 12:47 p.m. today
Where: Hilton Coliseum, Ames, Iowa
Records: Tech 13-11 overall, 5-6 in Big 12; ISU 18-5 overall, 6-5 in Big 12
Last Meeting: ISU 73, Tech 62 on Jan. 4, 2014
TV: Big 12 Network
Radio: 104.3 FM, 93.7 FM and 950 AM