The No. 18 Texas Tech Red Raiders are preparing to do battle against the No. 15 Kentucky Wildcats in what is arguably the largest non-conference game ever in Lubbock. The Red Raiders are coming off of a loss on the road to TCU by a score of 65-54. This game was lost by poor play from certain players and poor rebounding across the board. If the Red Raiders cannot fix that bad play, this team will have a rough time against another good team coming into Lubbock.
The Wildcats are coming off of two straight wins against SEC opponents, most recently an 89-79 win against Georgia. They are led by Coach Jon Calipari, a future Hall of Famer that has led this program to a National Championship in 2012. They have a 13-4 record and currently sit at 2nd place in the SEC.
They have a 9-man rotation but have 4 scorers that are averaging between 13 and 14 points per game. Nick Richards is a 6’11” junior forward out of Jamaica that is averaging 13.7 points, leads the team with 7.8 rebounds and blocks 2.4 shots per game. He is a very good rim protector for the Wildcats and will have to be defended by multiple guys on the defensive end for the Red Raiders.
Ashton Hagans is their main point guard and distributor as he is their leading assist man with 7.3 per game. In addition to his, he averages 13.6 points and 4.3 rebounds per game. He can shoot it from the outside a bit as he shoots 30% from behind the arc. Their best shooter is Immanuel Quickley. He also averages 13.6 points per game and shoots 40% from behind the arc. He also will pull down 4.2 rebounds and assist 1.9 times per game.
Their best player, in my opinion, is freshman Tyrese Maxey. He is a human highlight machine and is great in all facets of the game. He is averaging 13.3 points per game, 4.2 rebounds, and 2.9 assists per game. He is their main play-maker and his job is to do whatever the team needs to win.
Kentucky is very balanced among its four stars. Like I said before, they all seem to get an equal chance to score the ball and that is why they are so hard to stop most times. Tech will need to play excellent defense to win this game as they will not be able to make many mistakes on defense.
I honestly think this game comes down to the play of Tech’s seniors. They have both been good at times this season but you rarely see them both playing well on the same night. If they can both play well, Tech will have an excellent chance to win this game. If not, I am afraid Kentucky will get a great advantage on the interior of both ends of the floor and the Red Raiders will not be able to compete with the Wildcats.
This Tech team has some flaws but I think they will pull it all together for the 15,000 fans that will pour into the USA for this one.