Texas Tech vs. Texas A&M | Game Preview

TEXAS TECH (7-8, 0-3)
VS.
TEXAS A&M (9-6, 0-3)
Game Essentials
Date | January 14, 2012
Time | 12:45 pm
Location | College Station, TX
TV | Big 12 Network
Radio | Affiliates

Texas Tech Starting 5
Javarez Willis (5-11/171) | 9.2 PPG | 2.2 APG
Ty Nurse (6-1/180) | 9.9 PPG | 1.9 RPG
DeShon Minnis (6-3/200) | 3.1 PPG | 2.3 RPG
Jordan Tolbert (6-7/210) | 14.0 PPG | 6.0 RPG
Robert Lewandowski (6-10/256) | 7.2 PPG | 4.2 RPG

Texas A&M Starting 5
Dash Harris (6-1/170) | 5.3 PPG | 4.0 APG
Elston Turner (6-5/220) | 13.2 PPG | 3.2 RPG
Khris Middleton (6-7/210) | 13.3 PPG | 5.6 RPG
David Loubeau (6-8/235) | 10.6 PPG | 4.7 RPG
Keith Davis (6-10/230) | 1.2 PPG | 4.4 RPG

WHAT TO EXPECT

STRUGGLING TO SCORE | Texas A&M is struggling to score more than Texas Tech. That's saying something. TAMU is really struggling right now, especially offensively as they are averaging only 62.1 points per game, which is lower than Texas Tech, which is at 65.3. That's just rough and TAMU is really strugglig to shoot in every aspect. TAMU is just shooting 43.6% from the field, 30.0% from the three point line and just 61.6% from the free throw line. Prior to the season, I thought that TAMU would challenge for the Big 12 title, and now I think this is one of the winnable games, despite being on the road, for Texas Tech. TAMU has really fallen off a bit, and I'd still expect TAMU to win this game, but I think it's much closer than I would have thought a month ago.

REBOUNDING EDGE | When Turgeon was coaching at TAMU, the Aggies almost always had a strong rebounding team and this year isn't different. The aggies average about 7 boards more than their opponents, however, the Aggies have a worse strength of schedule (#262) and RPI (#224) than Texas Tech's strength of schedule (#124) and RPI (#186). This means, at least to me, that the competition hasn't been up to par (which is saying something as a Texas Tech fan) and so those rebounding numbers may be a bit skewed. Still, TAMU has a big lineup and Middleton will cause some match-up problems for Texas Tech (more on that below), but Davis and Loubeau are solid players and defensively, they are holding opponents to just 57.7 points per game. I'd also add that F Josh Turner, who doesn't start, but plays heavy minutes, is another big body that grabs 6 boards a game. The Aggies limit opposing teams and I think a large part of that is that they are grabbing every board in sight.

KEY MATCHUPS

MIDDLETON VS. NASH | I don't have SF Jaron plugged into the starting lineup, but with SF Terran Petteway sitting this one out with a one game suspension, I don't know that there are many options other than to play Nash at the small forward spot to combat the Aggies' big lineup. Gillispie has been hesitant to plug in Nash, but I can't imagine that he won't get 20 to 25 minutes against TAMU on Saturday. I somewhat expected Middleton to have a better year than he is. He's averaging over 13 PPG, but he's only shooting 39% from the field and Nash does play good defense. I think that Nash's role on Saturday will have a significant impact on the game, mostly because there just aren't any other options.

NURSE VS. E. TURNER | Elston Turner is the big guard that starts for the Aggies and if Gillispie stays true to form Nurse should get the start, which means that Nurse will be asked to guard a 6-5/220 guard/forward that has a eFG% of 51.4%, and is shooting 38% from the three-point line. Nurse has a tough game against Kansas, going 0-5 from the floor despite playing 32 minutes. Texas Tech has to have some sort of production from Nurse and he and Gillispie need to figure out a way for him to get some good shots. The tough part right now is that it seems that every shot that Nurse takes is from the outside and has a very difficult time creating much of anything off of the dribble due to his lack of athleticism. Add to the equation that the Texas Tech post players aren't drawing enough teams inside to open up those outside shots and now you've got a situation where Nurse is getting good looks at the basket. At some point, it's going to be tough to keep putting Nurse out on the floor if he doesn't produce.

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