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Pregame notes: Texas Tech vs. Northwestern State

Texas Tech opens the season against a young Northwestern State team

NCAA Basketball: Northwestern State at Texas Tech Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

2020 has been a crazy year, but thankfully Texas Tech basketball is finally here. The Red Raiders will start this season off with a match tonight against Northwestern State. Here is the game details:

Northwestern State Demons (0-0) vs. Texas Tech Red Raiders (0-0)

Location: United Supermarkets Arena

Game time: 6:00 CST


Odds: Texas Tech -25

Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

About Northwestern State

Last season’s record: 15-15 (11-9 in the Southland conference)

Preseason Kenpom ranking: 269th

Preseason T-Rank projection: 191st

Stats and Storylines

  • Northwestern State loves to push the pace. Last season they were 31st in adjusted tempo (Per T-Rank), which is a heavy contrast to Tech’s 232nd adjusted tempo ranking. With that being said, their pace often led to turnovers. Their turnover percentage put them outside of the top 300 in that regard, and they did not make up for it with superior playmaking or outstanding shot selection. That is the recipe for an exciting but terrible offense. NW State also did not shoot the three a ton, although two of their bigger early games (Tulane and Texas A&M) saw them attempt 30 threes, which was a feat they would not match again until the penultimate game of the season.
  • Mike McConathy is one of the most tenured coaches in America. He is entering his 22nd year at Northwestern State, where he has amassed 310 wins and three NCAA Tournament appearances. The highlight of his career as a coach was the 2006 upset over a Steve Alford-led Iowa team. Beyond that- McConathy had his team in the mix for a Southland Title frequently during the mid 2000s and early 2010s.
  • Unfortunately, that success has faded as of late. Northwestern State went 4-25 three seasons ago, and prior to last year had not finished in the top 300 of T-Rank since the 2014-15 season. Last year’s team was better, as they finished with a winning record in Southland competition.
  • This team returns a few of their best players, but lost a very versatile wing in Chudier Bile, who transferred to Georgetown. The two best players on the roster are probably Jairus Roberson and Trenton Massner. Both guys are 6’2, but neither are particularly great at being ball handlers. Regardless, they are two of they better shooters in the Southland conference. Roberson specifically took over 75% of his shots from beyond the three point line, and shot nearly 37% on those shots.
  • The two Primary ball handlers are Brian White and C.J. Jones. Both of them are undersized (5-6 and 5-10) respectively, and White specifically really struggled against good teams last year. Jones and White are both a large part of the turnover issues for NW State.
  • The team shot 35% from three last year, which helped make up for only shooting 57% from inside, which was a bit of an issue given how fast they play.
  • The tallest player in the rotation for the Demons is only 6’7, and only four taller than 6’2. For reference- Mac McClung is the only player shorter than 6’3 on Tech’s roster, and he is 6’2 himself.
  • Kendal Coleman might be the only guy that can match up with Tech athletically, as he is 6’8 and a very good leaper, but the freshman does not seem to be a part of the immediate plan for the Demons.
  • Overall, this team is quite a bit better than the one that got annihilated by Tech in the USA two years ago, but I doubt we will see them put up too much of a fight.

About Texas Tech

NCAA Basketball: Texas Tech at Texas Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

Last season’s record: 18-13 (9-9 in the Big 12)

Preseason Kenpom ranking: 6th

Preseason T-Rank projection: 6th

  • I’ll keep this kind of short because most of what I need to cover can be found in my preseason preview, but there are a couple game-specific notes I would like to provide:
  • I expect to see all 14 guys on the roster play, provided everyone is healthy (as Chris Beard claimed in the presser yesterday), however the rotation will probably be tighter than we have seen in season openers in the past. Beard addressed this as well in the press conference, and with only a few non-conference games, it will be essential to get the rotation set before the first game against Kansas. Guys like Clarence Nadolny, Avery Benson, and Vlad Goldin probably won’t get as many minutes as they normally would on opening night.
  • One theme to keep an eye on tonight- how often does Tech play without a big in the lineup? Both Chibuzo Agbo and Kevin McCullar seem to be fit for the small ball five role, and I feel like those lineups could be potent offensively.
  • I expect to see Kyler Edwards, Mac McClung, Terrence Shannon, Joel Ntambwe, and Marcus Santos-Silva to start. With that said, Nimari Burnett and Kevin McCullar could easily start as well.

Have anything else you want addressed before the game? Comment your thoughts below!