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Texas Tech Hoops | Las Vegas Classic Early Preview

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It’s never too early to take a look ahead at a college basketball tournament preview. Texas Tech will play South Carolina State, Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Loyola-Chicago. They will face either Boise State or Houston in their final matchup of the tourney.

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

 

News dropped last week that Texas Tech was one of the eight teams selected to play in the Las Vegas Classic Tournament. Without having released the Tech men's basketball schedule yet for the 2014-15 season, I am becoming antsy. Waiting for college basketball to begin really starts to wear on my nerves around the end of July. Red Raiders football always soothes a portion of my anxiety at the end of August, but right now I am going through some serious basketball withdrawals. So, what else is there to do but research the opponents we will matchup against in the early season tourney in Sin City? Let's do this!

Games

Texas Tech vs. South Carolina State

Date – December 17th, 2014

Location – Lubbock, TX (United Supermarkets Arena)

Early Preview - South Carolina State is in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference and had a record of 9-21 last season. They have won 20 games in their last three season combined, and were apparently on the verge of having their basketball program cut or moved down to Division III. Although, recent reports show that their basketball program will be safe for the time being. A big loss for the Bulldogs is Matthew Hezekiah their star senior 6’-11’’ power forward/center who was the only player to average double digits in scoring last year. The South Carolina State team doesn’t run an up-tempo offense and would like to keep this a low scoring game. It will be different for Tech basketball fans to watch us be more of the aggressor on offense instead of vice versa, but we will want to use our superior athleticism and size to run up the score. We should be worried if Tech does not pull to an early lead and cruise to a win.


Texas Tech vs. Arkansas-Pine Bluff

Date – December 19th, 2014

Location – Lubbock, TX (United Supermarkets Arena)

Early Preview - Arkansas-Pine Bluff is in the Southwestern Athletic Conference and had a record of 13-18 last season. They lost twice in their conference to a good Texas Southern squad; a team whom Tech beat 80-71 in a non-conference game last year. Arkansas Pine-Bluff also got their tails whipped by our Big 12 counterpart Oklahoma State in Stillwater, but so did we. Last year they were fairly poor at executing most things on the offense side of the ball, but I think they do return their top two scorers in senior guards Marcel Mosley and Tevin Hammond. They both averaged over 13 ppg and have the ability to make shots anywhere on the floor. Luckily for Tech, the Golden Lions lost out on the keeping DaVon Haynes who opted to enter the 2014 NBA draft (went undrafted). This will be a backcourt battle and Tech should have the strength to shutdown Mosley and Hammond. Our frontcourt will dominate and will get a bunch of points in the paint. This is a game that we should get worried about if we don’t pull away with a comfortable lead early in the second half.


Texas Tech vs. Loyola-Chicago

Date – December 22nd, 2014

Location – Las Vegas, NV (Orleans Arena)

Early Preview - Loyola-Chicago is in the Missouri Valley Conference, which should sound familiar to all you college basketball fans. The impressively dangerous Wichita State team hails from the MVC. Loyola-Chicago finished with a record of 10-22 last year. They are not a powerful team, but they are disciplined in their shot selection. This is reflected with a higher than average field goal percentage, even though they are not a high scoring team. You will notice the best player on their team right away in Milton Doyle who was their leader in scoring, assists, steals, and blocks from last year. He is a transfer from Kansas who had to sit out the 2012-13 season, but displayed his skills when he was able to get on the court. He earned Missouri Valley Conference Newcomer AND Freshman of the Year awards. Yeah, we need to keep him locked down the entire game or he will go off in a hurry on offense. Also, they have a really good player in experienced senior Christian Thomas who can play at multiple positions at the 2 or 3 spot. The Ramblers will try to involve their big guns, but Tech should not have a problem keeping those players contained. I think Texas Tech will coast to another easy victory in this game.


Texas Tech vs. Boise State or Houston

Date – December 23rd, 2014

Location – Las Vegas, NV (Orleans Arena)

Early Preview - This will be the first and only real fight that Tech will face in the tourney. My money is on us battling Boise State in the finals. In the Mountain West they finished with a 21-13 overall record, and challenged conference foes such as New Mexico and San Diego State. Our fellow Big 12 conference tournament champion Iowa State only beat BSU 70-66 in the Diamond Head Classic last season. Thankfully for us they lost Ryan Watkins due to exhausted NCAA eligibility, he was a double-double machine that averaged 11.9 ppg and 10.6 rpg. But, watch out for senior Anthony Drmic from Australia who is already on some of the NBA scouts radar. He hasn’t averaged below 12 ppg over three seasons and has the skills to score all over the floor. He is hot and cold, so hopefully the streaky shooter will be off if we play his team. The Broncos are not a stranger to grinding out hard fought contests, and it would be a huge test to see if we could hold off one of the better teams we would face on our non-conference schedule for a win. I think the game would go down to the last minute, and it would definitely be a heartbreaker for one of the teams at the final buzzer.

The other team we could face is U of H. Houston was not easy to beat last year in Brooklyn, NY when we played the consolation game of the Progressive Legends Classic. But, Tech did come away with the win 76-64 and we killed the Cougars on the boards outrebounding them 46-26. Kelvin Sampson is taking over as the new Houston head coach this season, and it should only be a matter of time before he is up to his cheating ways that got him ousted from Oklahoma and Indiana. If James Dickey was still running the program at Houston, I would be concerned about coming away with a win again. But, with Sampson there this will be a rebuilding year for the Coogs. A week after Sampson was hired his two top scorers TaShawn Thomas and Danuel House instinctively starting seeking to play elsewhere, but were denied transfer and had to go through an appeals process. Thomas has since signed a financial aid agreement with Oklahoma, and House has landed with Texas A&M. I would be very surprised if we ended up playing Houston in this tournament, but if we do meet I think this game would be an easy win for Tech.