GAME NOTES: The Texas Longhorns will try once again to post their first win of 2013 when they play host to the Texas Tech Red Raiders in a Big 12 Conference showdown on Saturday night.
Texas Tech is fresh off a 56-51 home win over Iowa State, a victory that snapped a season-long, four-game losing streak. The win brought the Red Raiders back above .500 overall at 9-8, although they are only 2-4 in conference play, and 1-2 outside of Lubbock.
One of the few teams in the Big 12 that has played worse than Texas Tech has been Texas, which is winless in league play and in the midst of a five-game losing streak. The Longhorns dropped a 73-67 decision at Oklahoma on Monday night, but fortunately they are in Austin for this matchup, where they have won seven of nine contests this season.
The Longhorns have defeated the Red Raiders in 13 of the last 14 matchups, including seven straight, to take a 75-53 advantage in the all-time series.
Texas Tech took part in a defensive struggle in its recent clash with Iowa State, and although it trailed with less than five minutes to play, the team closed the game on a 10-4 run to capture the five-point victory. The Red Raiders shot less than 40 percent from the field, although they got quality performances from Josh Gray (16 points, four assists) and Jordan Tolbert (13 points, eight rebounds). On the season, Texas Tech has been respectable at the offensive end, scoring 68.3 ppg while shooting nearly 43 percent from the field, but it has been plagued by a scoring defense that allows a league-worst 69.8 ppg. Jaye Crockett is a steady presence in the frontcourt, shooting 52.5 percent for 13.1 ppg, while also ripping down a team-high 8.0 rpg. Dejan Kravic (9.7 ppg, 1.4 bpg) is also an efficient guy, draining 54.1 percent of his total shots, while Gray adds 9.5 ppg to the mix, albeit on just 21.2 percent 3-point shooting.
Texas shot 44.4 percent from the field in its recent outing against Oklahoma, but ultimately couldn't overcome foul trouble as it sent the Sooners to the free-throw line 27 times, while attempting just 11 foul shots itself. Sheldon McClellan provided instant offense off the bench for the 'Horns, shooting 10- of-20 from the floor on his way to matching his career high of 25 points. Ioannis Papapetrou scored 12 points, and Prince Ibeh made all four of his field goal attempts to finish with eight. The Longhorns usually play shut-down defense, ranking in top-five nationally in field goal percentage defense (.352), but their offensive output hasn't been good enough to keep pace on a nightly basis (.406 FG percentage, 63.9 ppg). McClellan (.377) is a big reason for the team's shooting woes, but he has converted 83-of-103 attempts from the foul line (.806) in netting a team-high 15.1 ppg. Julien Lewis chips in with 11.5 ppg, and freshman Javan Felix (8.8 ppg) leads the conference in assists with six per contest.
Although the Red Raiders are coming off one of their most impressive wins of the season, they will have their hands full in Austin. Despite the Longhorns struggles of late, they should be able to give their home fans something to cheer about.