Seven wins in a row and no will at all to stop. Despite a laborious first half against Memphis, our Red Raiders rallied and conquered an important win that maintains them undefeated. In addition, they were rewarded with a 7-spot improvement in the AP Poll, and now they smile from the height of their position no. 13
After facing teams like the Tigers, USC, and Nebraska, Texas Tech is set to face a trio of lower-tier opponents in Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Northwestern State, and Abilene Christian, before traveling to New York to face Duke at the Madison Square Garden, on December 21st.
So, let’s talk Arkansas-Pine Bluff.
The Golden Eagles play in the SWAC, and their current record is 2-5, with the two wins coming against Cal Baptist and Little Rock. In their last game they were heavily beaten by Cincinnati, 105-49.
They’re led for the eleventh season by George Ivory, with whom they won the SWAC title and appeared in their only NCAA Tournament ever in 2010. Unfortunately, they were paired with Duke in the first round and they lost.
In this season, Arkansas-Pine Bluff is essentially one player, guard Martaveous McKnight. The 2018 SWAC player of the year leads the team in minutes played with an incredible 38.4, points (25.0), and assists (3.1). During this year’s seven-game span, he already scored 40 points twice, against Colorado State and Cal Baptist.
He’s a very interesting player, but he lacks an adequate supporting cast. Excluding McKnight, the Golden Eagles already used 16 players, but only two of them average more than ten points per game, senior guard Charles Jackson (10.6) and sophomore forward Shaun Doss. Sophomore forward Terrance Banyard leads the team in rebounds (6.0 per game).
Arkansas-Pine Bluff’s biggest problem is on defense (they rank 349th out of 353 teams for points allowed per game, with 88.0) and that will the key for the Red Raiders. An easy win is necessary, maybe without injuries and with the possibility to let the bench play for many minutes. Big challenges lie ahead, and this team needs as many tune-ups as possible.