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Red Raiders hoops hosts Savannah State

Texas Tech will look to continue their hot start in this Thanksgiving weekend game.

The Texas Tech Red Raiders continue their slate of non-conference games as they host the Savannah State Tigers on Saturday. The game is scheduled for a 2 p.m. tip at the United Supermarkets Arena.

Tech is fresh off of a 79-56 victory over Wofford this past Wednesday. The win not only pushed their record to 5-0 but the double digit margin of victory means that the 2017-18 Red Raiders are only the third team ever to win its first 5 games by double figures. Let’s take a look at Saturday’s opponent.

Savannah State University

Savannah State plays in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) and is led by ninth year head coach Horace Broadnax. Coach Broadnax took over the program in April 11, 2005 when the team was fresh off of a 0-28 season. In 2008-09, the team had its first winning season in over 20 years. In 2011-12, the Tigers went 14-2 and won the first ever MEAC regular season championship. The Tigers are 156-211 overall under Broadnax.

The tigers return seven players, including 6’5” junior guard Dexter McClanahan, from a team that went 13-16 overall in 2016-17. McClanahan was named to the All-MEAC 3rd team in 2017. He leads the Tigers with 17 points per game and is top five in per game average in minutes, three point shooting, rebounds, and assists. McClanahan has also started four of the first five games of the season.

Another player to watch for is 6’0” junior guard Isaiah Felder. Felder saw his first start of the year in a 101-97 victory against Alabama State last Tuesday. Felder played 23 minutes and scored 16 points, shooting 45 percent from the field including 50 percent from beyond the three point line. He set personal season highs in nearly every statistical category. It will be interesting to see if coach Broadnax continues to use Felder more against the Red Raiders.

Savannah State is chock full of the six foot to 6’6” combo players with two exceptions, 5’7” junior guard Ty’lik Evans and 6’10” senior center Maricus Glenn.

Evans is fourth on the team in points per game (9.5), second in assists (2.5), and fifth in minutes per game (18). Evans shoots just 35 percent from the field including only 22 percent from three point range.

The two stats that really stick out for Evans are rebounding and assist to turnover ratio. He is second on the team in rebounds at four per game. Given his slight stature, that shows outstanding effort away from the ball. He is also a little reckless with the ball as he averages almost a turnover (7) for every assist (10). That assist to turnover ratio will tend to leave you on the bench for extended periods of time.

Glenn is the only center listed on the roster. He has a 71 percent field goal percentage but, quite honestly, he doesn’t take very many shots as he only averages three points per game. He has started three games and played in all five although he is only averaging 11 minutes per game.

The game

This looks to be a long day for the Tigers. Coach Broadnax is still looking to find the right combination for his team. Eleven different players have started a game and no player has started every game. The team only shoots 38 percent from the field while allowing their opponents to shoot 46 percent.

Turnovers will be key in this game. The Tigers are ranked 12th in forced turnovers at 20 per game but tied for 258 in turnovers per game. Tech on the other hand is 18th in forced turnovers and 176 in turnovers per game.

The only way Savannah State will keep this game close, even for a little while, is by forcing turnovers by Tech and limiting their own. The only big man the Tigers have, Glenn, has not been effective at all and I don’t see the smaller players being much of a challenge to the Tech big men.

Texas Tech should just look to stay focused and injury free in this game. The only thing that will make it a close game at the end is complete disinterest by the Red Raiders. I don’t see coach Chris Beard letting that happen.