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Texas Tech vs. TCU | Game Preview

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TEXAS TECH VS. TCU
Game Essentials
Date | December 6, 2011
Time | 6:00 pm
Location | Ft. Worth, TX
TV | CBS Sports Network/TTSN
Radio | Affiliates
Game Cast | Fox Sports

Texas Tech Starting 5
Ty Nurse (6-1/180) | 12.3 PPG | 1.4 AST
Javarez Willis (5-11/171) | 7.3 PPG | 2.6 AST
Toddrick Gotcher (6-3/190) | 7.4 PPG | 3.9 REB
Jordan Tolbert (6-7/210) | 11.0 PPG | 6.3 REB
Robert Lewandowski (6-10/256) | 5.8 PPG | 3.9 REB

TCU Starting 5
Hank Thorns (5-9/165) | 12.8 PPG | 4.8 APG
Nate Butler (6-6/200) | 2.8 PPG | 3.3 APG
J.R. Cadot (6-5/205) | 11.8 PPG | 7.9 RPG
Amric Fields (6-9/215) | 10.3 PPG | 2.6 RPG
Adrick McKinney (6-8/250) | 8.3 PPG | 5.6 RPG

WHAT TO EXPECT

A SOLID START FOR TCU | A couple of nice wins and a surprising loss for TCU. The nice wins are against Virginia, a close game, but a win, and a 1 point win against Houston. The questionable loss is against Norfolk St, which doesn't make any sense. I'd also add that TCU just beat what I normally perceive to be a good team in Evansville and it was on the road. There is also an 11 point loss to Ole Miss there, which isn't necessarily bad from what I can tell. TCU has a pretty darned good RPI, at #17 (compared to #155 for Texas Tech), and strength of schedule of #18 (compared to #183 for Texas Tech) for the year. The Horned Frogs are undefeated at home, 3-0.

STILL SHOOTING WELL, BUT . . . | Texas Tech is still shooting well, but I think this may be based off of an early non-conference slate that saw a handful of players shoot really well and helped what was then a defense that I think took advantage of some fairly weak offenses. Texas Tech shot 70%, 49.6% and 71.4% eFG% the first three games of the year and have since leveled off at around 42% to 47% over the last handful of games. The point being is that those early games have somewhat skewed the current outlook and I think what Texas Tech fans need to take from this is that Texas Tech will probably not have consistently excellent shooting performances for the year. I don't think this team is set up that way, but I do think that Texas Tech will win games if they can play some defense and keep things tight. Texas Tech isn't going to win many shooting contests.

KEEPING TCU OFF THE OFFENSIVE GLASS | TCU does rebound really well, especially on the offensive glass where 34% of their rebounds are offensive rebounds. This causes problems for Texas Tech as I don't think that Texas Tech has the bodies (really just Tolbert and Lew) to keep pace, but it's actually Cadot that's leading the charge at 3.25 offensive rebounds per game. That means guys like Jaron Nash and Gotcher will need to make sure that Cadot stays off the boards. TCU runs out a fairly large lineup, especially in the backcourt, except for Thorns. I mentioned it last week that it might be beneficial for Texas Tech to think about tweaking that starting lineup as Texas Tech faced a big lineup against TAMU-CC.

WINNING ON THE ROAD | LAJ's Nick Kosmider writes that head coach Billy Gillispie knows that it's hard to win on the road and winning in Corpus Christi was tough:

“To have a chance to celebrate in an opponent’s locker room is difficult,” Tech coach Billy Gillispie said. “It’s hard to win anywhere, especially on the road.”

Gillispie also noted that when TAMU-CC pressed, it created easier offensive opportunities as Lew and Tolbert had fouled out:

“Really, after Lewandowski and Tolbert were out, we never had to run any offense other than just trying to protect the lead and win the game,” Gillispie said. “The press kind of helped us a little bit, because we had had a hard time scoring. ... We caught the ball, faced up and got a couple easy ones.”

Key matchups are after the jump.

KEY MATCHUPS

TOLBERT VS. MCKINNEY | I'm starting to think that Tolbert, and how well he plays, will be a pivitol factor as we play out the year. I'm still wondering where Kader Tapsoba is and how his foot is healing (I think I read he has a stress fracture). Texas Tech needs some help inside and as much as guys like Gotcher has been filing up the stat sheet from his guard position (9 PTS, 7 REB, 2 AST, 2 BLK), the frontcourt needs some help, especially if Lew isn't going to offer much inside (which is disappointing in its own right). Tolbert and Lew both fouled out against TAMU-CC and that just can't happen. The frontcourt isn't deep enough to lose both Tolbert and Lew without a decent post backup and although Nash is filling that role, I don't think he can sustain that in Big 12 play. Tolbert has been really solid as a true freshman and I think he's going to get into foul trouble, but Lew has to be better than that.

NURSE AND WILLIS VS. THORNS | Thorns appears to be a point guard that can score and dish out some assists. Texas Tech has had a tough time stopping smaller point guards thus far, Nurse probably lacks the athleticism and Willis, although I think they both give good effort, can't seem to get it done. Thorns is averaging in double-figures and almost 5 assists per game. I think that whether or not Texas Tech wins or loses this game will be largely dependent on Texas Tech stopping Thorns from creating shots for his teammates. Need some really solid defense from Nurse, Willis and Kevin Wagner.

CROCKETT VS. THE TCU BENCH | F Jaye Crockett is getting starting minutes, but he's just not starting yet. I'm not sure why. Head coach Billy Gillispie has been fairly quick to pull the guards out of the starting lineup, but has been hesitant to pull Lew out of the starting lineup for some reason. Crockett has been this team's best player since he got back from injury and perhaps the biggest reason Lew continues to start is that Crockett has done a bang-up job coming off of the bench, 7.3 points/game, 6.0 rebounds/game, 1.6 assists/game, 1.7 turnovers/game, and 1.8 fouls/game. Crockett isn't getting into the foul trouble that he did last year and I'd chalk that up to maturity, if nothing else. If Crockett starts the game on the bench, I think this gives Gillispie a really nice option, perhaps one of the best options in the conference, of a player to spell any starter that needs some help.