Game Preview | Texas Tech Red Raiders vs. Oklahoma St. Cowboys

Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Spor

The Texas Tech Red Raiders head to Stillwater to play the Oklahoma St. Cowboys and Marcus Smart as he returns from his 3 game suspension for shoving a fan in Lubbock.

THE INFORMATION

Game Details
TEAMS Texas Tech Red Raiders (13-13, 5-8)
Oklahoma St. Cowboys (16-10, 4-9)
WHERE Gallagher-Iba Arena | Stillwater, Oklahoma
WHEN 12:30 pm Saturday February 22nd
CONSUME Radio - TTSN | TV - Big 12 Network

THE CHARACTERS

Starters
Texas Tech Oklahoma St.
Robert Turner (6-3/180) PG Marcus Smart (6-4/220)
Toddrick Gotcher (6-4/195) SG Markel Brown (6-3/190)
Jaye Crockett (6-7/210) SF Le'Bryan Nash (6-7/235)
Jordan Tolbert (6-7/225) PF Brian Williams (6-5/210)
Dejan Kravic (6-11/235) C Kamari Murphy (6-8/220)

THE ANALYSIS

Key Matchup | Crockett vs. Nash: It would be too easy to pick Turner and Smart.  I definitely think Smart will get his today, he'll be motivated, but I think Smart is going to look to his teammates and Brown has been so good all year, I somewhat see someone other than Smart and Brown getting involved and it makes sense that Nash could be that guy.  Nash is averaging 14, but he's capable of going off if the other players defer.

Take Aim: Texas Tech won the last meeting, in large part because of the lack of turnovers, only 7 on the entire day, compared to 15 for Oklahoma St.  When Smith mentions below how important Turner is to the game, that's absolutely true because he helped control a game in Lubbock that easily could have gotten out of control.

The problem for the entire Oklahoma St. team, and it's why I can't really get a read on what the crowd will be like, is that their head coach Travis Ford has the program in disarray.  The game for this team doesn't appear to be fun any more and that's the problem. The pressure to win, for Ford and the rest of the team, has robbed them of their happiness to play the game and that's seems like a pretty good assessment to the problem (see Donovan quote below).  Texas Tech, on the other hand, is playing as free and easy as they ever have.  This is the best stretch in maybe 4 or 5 years and that's saying something and you can tell a difference. This is happy group of players because there are/were no expectations for this team and they're playing with a chip on their shoulder.

As mentioned above, this Oklahoma St. team is very much led by their guards as Brown and Smart are both averaging 17 points a game with Phil Forte, III averaging 12 off the bench.  Add in Nash and that's pretty much the gist of the scoring for this team.

Oklahoma St. is still a top 35 team according to KenPom and they haven’t won a game since January 25th. Almost a full month without a win. The Cowboys are still, at least statistically, a good offensive team, at 32nd in AdjO and 58th in AdjD. Texas Tech has climbed up to 66th in overall rating, coming in at 37th in AdjO and 136th in AdjD. Just for comparison purposes, the last time that Texas Tech and Oklahoma St. played, the Cowboys were 19th in AdjO and 47th in AdjD while Texas Tech was 45th in AdjO and 176th in AdjD.

Game Day Links:

The official site has your official preview ( via Texas Tech).

Texas Tech is focused on their own team, as head coach Tuby Smith acknowledges the importance of Turner and that Oklahoma St. is a talented team (via LAJ):

"We’re going to have to get the same type of gamesmanship, generalship and leadership we got out of Rob Turner (against Kansas) because he’s going to be taking care of the ball," Smith said. "It’s always tough in every arena we go to, but because of the circumstances our poise and our composure will be tested. I like the way our guys respond whether we’re up 18 or down. That’s one good thing about this team is that we’ve been able to respond the right way for the most part."

While most spectators will be focused on how Smart returns, the Red Raiders are focused on themselves and their game plan, looking to win for the first time in Stillwater since 2003 and sweep the Cowboys in a single season for the first time, period.

"Oklahoma State is a very talented team with and without Marcus Smart," Smith said. "I thought they really played well, looking at Markel Brown and how long he’s been playing. He’s been carrying them and doing a good job without Marcus Smart. Marcus adds a whole new element to them. I’m sure he’ll be focused and ready to play as I hope our guys will be."

The pressure is all on Marcus Smart upon his return and this bit of advice from Florida coach Billy Donovan is just fantastic (via DMN):

"This is just my opinion, my feeling, but because he was a top-five [NBA] pick a year ago, you feel like you have to play like a top-five pick," Donovan said. "Whatever that looks like in his mind, what happens is you can never reach that level."

He saw the same thing with Noah.

"When Noah came back after his sophomore year, the pressure he felt to perform every game was totally out of control," Donovan said. "And I told Joakim this, ‘You cannot allow people to rob you of your happiness playing the game.’ I think in some ways that Marcus has allowed some happiness to get robbed of him in this whole process of coming back, not playing like they want to."

Athletic Director Kirby Hocutt is pleased with response to incident (via DMN).

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