|OPPONENT:||Oklahoma Sooners (12-5, 1-1)|
|LOCATION:||United Spirit Arena : Lubbock, TX|
|DATE:||January 23, 2010|
|TIME:||7:00 p.m. CST|
|TV:||TTSN : FSSW : ESPN 360|
|GAME CAST:||Fox Sports|
The Season Thus Far: I was really expecting OU to continue the similar success that the Sooners experienced in the past two years. However, it's been anything but status quo as the Sooners have lost to VCU, San Diego, Houston, UTEP and Gonzaga in their non-conference schedule. Not terrible, but not what you would typically expect from OU considering the rise that head coach Jeff Capel had this team headed. In any event, the Sooners suffer the same fate as the rest of the Big 12 in that they've won their two games at home, Oklahoma St. and Missour, but had a blow-out loss to Baylor (31 points!) and a three point loss to TAMU earlier this week.
The Main Players: Warren was supposed to be the star of the show after Blake Griffin left last year. Warren has been okay and leads the team in scoring, but he's also only shooting 43% from the field, which isn't awful, but you'd like to see that creep up to 45%. The kicker with Warren is that he's been awful behind the three-point line, hitting only 28% of his shots. Crocker, who seems like he's been in Norman for 10 years, is a steady influence, and is one of four players scoring in double-figures. Also leading the sooners are two freshmen, PG Griffin and PF Gallon.
Keep a Good Thing Going: The Iowa St. win was a baby-step for this team and as a unit they need to continue to put players in the right positions to win. This team needs to continue to get guys like SF Mike Singletary in the right position to help this team, which is on the block rather than on the permimeter and the match-up has to be favorable for him to be effective. His teammates need to recognize that if his the match-up isn't favorable, then go somewhere else, but Singletary just jacking up shots isn't conducive to winning games. Roberson continues to score points for this team and he did it at an even pace against Iowa St. The glue-guys for this team need to continue do the little things, rebound and defend, to help this team.
Heavy Load: Gallon seems to be OU's sole post player that receives significant minutes (the other is Ryan Wright) and the rest of the OU players are similar to Texas Tech's swing players, 6-5 to 6-7 that can defend. OU is also a team that doesn't rebound well and Texas Tech needs to take advantage of rebounding edges whenever Texas Tech can get it. Darko Cohadarevic and Robert Lewandowski had decent games against Iowa St., and I'd even argue that Darko had a pretty damn good game with 8 points and 12 boards. If Darko and Lew can muster 15 points and 12 boards between them, I think the Red Raiders win this game fairly easily.
Guarding Warren: LAJ's Courtney Linehan writes that the Red Raider will have their hands full in guarding all-world guard Willie Warren, but that everyone should be healthy in helping out:
Tech’s ammunition will be its athleticism and depth. The Raiders will likely start Reese again, meaning it will have two starters off the bench in Okorie, who scored 15 points against Iowa State, and David Tairu, who is back to full form after battling the flu during Wednesday night’s win.
Reese’s entry into the starting lineup is all about adding defensive length and agility. Convenient, as Tech has given up 83.75 points per game while starting 1-4 in conference, despite going 12-2 after giving up 69.5 points per game in nonconference play.
“It’s all been our defense,” Reese said. “We’re giving up 80, 90 points a game. We need to get back to playing so we keep it in the 60s or 70s, because when you hold a team to 60 points you should win.”