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No. 14 Texas Tech takes on South Carolina as part of the Big 12/SEC challenge

The Red Raiders take a break from the Big 12 as they travel to the land of Peaches and Gamecocks

No. 14 Texas Tech (16-4, 5-3) put another notch in the win column with an impressive come from behind victory last Tuesday against Oklahoma State (13-7, 3-5). The win kept the Red Raiders undefeated at home for the season and it helps them keep pace in a very hectic Big 12 race.

Tech now gets a break from the brutal Big 12 but they have to go back on the road to get it. Next up is a Saturday contest with the South Carolina Gamecocks at Colonial Life Arena in Columbia, SC. The game is part of the annual Big 12/SEC Challenge and tips at 11:00 a.m. CST.

South Carolina Gamecocks

The Gamecocks are 13-7 overall which includes 7-2 at home. They are fresh off an impressive 77-72 win at No. 20 Florida in a game that saw them drop in 11 three pointers on 52 percent shooting from beyond the arc.

South Carolina is led by head coach Frank Martin who is in his sixth season. They are 108-81 under Martin. Big 12 fans will probably remember coach Martin from his days at Kansas State.

They return eight players from a team that went 26-11 last year and made an appearance in the Final Four. One of the players lost from last years team was leading scorer Sindari Thornwell. Thornwell was a second round pick in last years NBA draft.

Chris Silva, a 6’9 junior forward, was third on the team last year in points per game and currently leads the team this year at 14.7 points per game. Silva padded his stats in the win at Florida with 18 points, 12 rebounds, and four blocks.

He is the team leader in just about every statistical category including field goal percentage (48) and free throw percentage (74). He started every game last year in a breakout sophomore season and has started every game this year. He’s very athletic and that combined with his height figure to pose a serious problem for Tech’s defense.

The second leading scorer is 6’3 guard Frank Booker. Booker is a graduate transfer from Florida Atlantic by way of Oklahoma. He averages 11 points in 25 minutes per game. He was a starter for the first 14 games but has had his starting spot taken by 6’4 sophomore guard Evan Hinson. Booker has assumed the roll of sixth man, playing over 20 minutes per game in the last six off the bench. Hinson appears to be the ultimate sacrificial starter for the sixth man as he has only averaged 13.5 minutes and 5 points in his six starts.

The next three in line for the Gamecocks are 6’1 graduate transfer guard Wesley Myers, 6’5 freshman forward Justin Minaya, and 6’10 sophomore forward Maik Kotsar. Myers has played in all 20 games this season and he has started the last eight. In his eight starts he is averaging 12 points in almost 29 minutes per game. Kotsar and Minaya each average about eight points in 27 minutes per game.

The game

Now that we’ve taken a look at the opponent, let’s talk about the game. Tech is on the road. That is a big concern. Pretty simple.

The Gamecocks have dropped double digit threes in the last two games on 48 percent shooting. Coach Martin has settled into a starting lineup and the team is responding.

The tale of the tape above makes it look like the Red Raiders should have a pretty easy time. Then you dig a little further and remember this game is on the road.

Tech shot 38 percent from the field including 24 percent from three in the four Big 12 road games this year. Their only true road games of the year. Those averages are a full 10 percentage points lower than the season averages in those areas.

They allowed their opponents in those games to shoot 46 percent from the field which includes 33 percent from three. These stats are against Big 12 competition but they are also from the only true road games Tech has had this year. Two of the opponents, Iowa State and Texas, are also very comparable to South Carolina.

Chris Silva and Maik Kotsar are big concerns this game. The Red Raiders have not responded well to talented big men in road games this year.

Finally, this is the Big 12/SEC Challenge and everyone hears about how good the teams are in the Big 12. This includes people in Columbia, SC. This is a different team than last year but they are still a pretty solid group.

A win over Tech would be another resume win for South Carolina. They already have wins over Kentucky and Florida. The average attendance at Gamecock home games is over 12,000 and I anticipate a great crowd at the Colonial Life Arena. This is just not a good position for the Red Raiders.

Prediction: Texas Tech 65, South Carolina 72