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Preview: Texas Longhorns vs. Texas Tech Red Raiders

The Red Raiders host the Texas Longhorns in the first Big 12 Conference game of the year and look to continue their undefeated record at home.

Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Game Details:

Date: Saturday, January 3rd
Time: 1:00 pm
Good Guys: Texas Tech Red Raiders (10-3, 0-0)
Bad Guys: Texas Longhorns (11-2, 0-0)
Location: United Supermarkets Arena | Lubbock, TX
TV/Stream: ESPNU
Radio/Stream: Broadcast Affiliates and TuneIn App

Rebuilt. It seems like yesterday that Rick Barnes was completely under fire for manning a program that had and was completely under-performing as to prior expectations.  I'm not close enough to the program to really figure out what happened, but it sure did seem like the problem was Texas just didn't have any good players.  Or maybe not the players that we've come to expect.  But that started to change last year where Barnes didn't completely right the ship, but he got it pointed going in the right direction, going 24-11 on the year and then capping it off with a terrific player from the year before in PG Isaiah Taylor (who is injured, but could play) and the big haul being C Myles Turner, who is looks like doesn't even start for the Longhorns. I'm probably in the minority here, but I like Barnes I think he's always tried to do things the right way.  I suppose he got complacent in a sense.  I'd also add that I think the biggest difference here is that Barnes has some grinders and players that have to be developed here and I think when you go for the one-and-done sort of player that's fine, but to do it at the detriment of developing your own players then the program is eventually going to tank . . . unless you can always keep that one-and-done train moving forward.  Barnes couldn't do that, but I personally think this is a better way of basketball, a familiarity with players and growing with a team.

Starting Lineup

Pts/Reb Pts/Reb
POINT GUARD Robert Turner (6-3/190) 9.2 / 2.0* Isaiah Taylor (6-1/170) 17.0 / 2.3*
SHOOTING GUARD Devaugntah Williams (6-4/205) 11.6 / 3.2 Demarcus Holland (6-2/190) 8.2 / 2.6*
SMALL FORWARD Justin Gray (6-6/210) 7.7 / 3.2 Jonathan Holmes (6-8/240) 12.5 / 6.7
POWER FORWARD Zach Smith (6-8/205) 5.3 / 5.1 Connor Lammert (6-9/240) 5.5 / 7.0
CENTER Norense Odiase (6-9/270) 8.2 / 5.0 Cameron Ridley (6-9/285) 8.3 / 4.0

* Assists.

Three Keys to the Game:

1. Scouting the Longhorns. This is a really deep team that has a ton of options.  Holmes is the guy I'm most concerned about because he's a terrific scorer and Gray tends to get into foul trouble.  That's a dangerous combination.  I mention Myles Turner above, but just to give you an idea, he's 6-11/240 and he's averaging 12 points and 6 rebounds a game, while shooting 55% from the field and 88% from the free throw line.  He's a terrific player and that's quite a guy to have coming off the bench.  Holland is incredibly efficient, shooting 52% from the field and 47% from the three-point line.  If Taylor plays, and he is expected to play, he was giving you 17 points a game before he got hurt and his game is filled with dominating the ball at the point, but also with tons of floating jumpers and a slowness (this is really being in control) that eventually results in a burst and a layup.  Taylor is shooting 53% from the floor and 82% from the free throw line.  Texas Tech's defense better be on point.

2. Stats. Texas is a an excellent shooting team and they're also a team that plays terrific defense, limiting opponents to 33% from the field and generally dominating the boards by double-digits on opponents.  That's what happens when your small forward is 6-8/240 and you can bring a 6-11 freshman off the bench.  The one key stat to watch is that the Longhorns can be a bit turnover prone.

Texas is a top 10 defensive team according to KenPom and I believe that.  Barnes usually tries to get his guys to buy into the defensive side of the ball first and this year is no different.  Offensively, the Longhorns are 40th in AdjO, which gets you a top team overall according to the KemPom ratings.  For comparison purposes, the Red Raiders are 221st in AdjO and 81st in AdjD.

*AdjO and AdjD via KenPom.

3. Matching Up. Texas Tech will very much need to play a clean game agains the Longhorns.  You can expect a lot of zone, but this is going to have to be Texas Tech's game plan for the year, which is to slow the game down and take meaningful shots.  That also means those silly turnovers against North Texas would completely ruin this team against a team like Texas.  Turner and Onwuasor have to value the possessions.  And I've been looking forward to the Odiase and Ridley match-up since I saw what Odiase was capable of doing.  Let's see how he does this against a guy that is similar to Odiase, but with more experience.  I also mentioned that Gray has to stay out of foul trouble and that won't be easy against Holmes.  I'm going to be real interested to see who takes on Holmes defensively if Gray gets into foul trouble. Does Smith switch over and does Tubby Smith go real big inside or maybe Aaron Ross gets the call.