Can you remember the last time that Texas Tech Basketball won against Texas in Austin?
Here’s a clue: most college students today weren’t even born.
The last year that the Southwest Conference existed was the last time Texas Tech handed Texas a loss at their home court. In 1996, behind the coaching of James Dickey and standout forward Jason Sasser, the Red Raiders throttled the Longhorns in the Frank Erwin Center, 75-58. This was the same year that Texas Tech had its most successful season in school history, finishing 30-2 overall while remaining undefeated in conference play. To cap off the season the Red Raiders won both the SWC regular season championship as well as the conference tournament title. Then the drought set in.
It has been twenty three years and Texas Tech has yet to see the same success against Texas in Austin. It hasn’t been without effort; the 2017 team took the Longhorns down to the wire before Eric Davis nailed a three-pointer at the end. In 2018 the performance duo of Kerwin Roach’s 20 points and Mo Bamba’s 15 points, 11 rebounds kept the Red Raiders out of reach. The Frank Erwin Center, like most Big 12 home courts, is a difficult arena to maintain success in. Texas Tech was 15-3 last year when we faced off against Texas (12-6) - and we still lost by 9.
Now 14-1, 3-0 in conference, the Red Raiders are primed to break the drought against a Texas team that has been very back and forth. Picked fourth in the preseason Big 12 basketball poll (tied with TCU), Texas has managed to stay on pace. After a shocking victory over the North Carolina Tar Heels, where Kerwin Roach racked up 32 points, the nation thought Texas was primed for a big year. Then they lost to Radford, VCU and Providence - not bad teams, but certainly teams that Longhorn fans expect to beat. Once conference play started the Longhorns were hot again: winning against Kansas State and West Virginia (teams picked above them in the preseason). But a loss last Tuesday to Oklahoma State threw observers into a spiral. Well, most observes not named Chris Beard.
“This is certainly an opportunity. In my opinion Texas is one of the best teams in the country and have NBA players. They have experience, young talent and Shaka has done a great job like he always does." @CoachBeardTTU on playing @TexasMBB on Saturday pic.twitter.com/rOSrtYqAiB— Texas Tech Basketball (@TexasTechMBB) January 10, 2019
Every game this season has been marked with Beard’s patented “we have to play our best basketball against (x)” and it doesn’t change for Texas. There’s a reason we haven’t won in Austin for twenty-three years, but there’s certainly hope for tomorrow afternoon. For one, Texas Tech is ranked fourth in the NCAA Net rankings. That’s eight places above the next Big 12 team, Kansas. That ranking has come from resilient defense and clutch offense in multiple games this season. Right now the Red Raiders are boasting one of the best defenses in the nation with a daunting 83.1 points surrendered per 100 possessions.
Where Texas Tech suffers is on the offensive side of the ball. Currently we’re ranked 203rd in our scoring offense and make 106.7 points per 100 possessions. Basically a point a possession. The upside to this is that our ability to win basketball games isn’t about scoring 70, 80 points a game - it’s about scoring however many we can and keeping the other team to less. Something we do very well. Either way we’re in for another tough Big 12 match up against a good Texas team.