Northern Arizona (1-0) at Texas Tech (1-0)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Monday, November 11, 8 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: United Spirit Arena (15,020) -- Lubbock, Texas. Television: None. Home Record: NAU 0-0, Texas Tech 1-0. Away Record: NAU 0-1, Texas Tech 0-0. Neutral Record: NAU 0-0, Texas Tech 0-0. Conference Record: NAU 0-0, Texas Tech 0-0. Series Record: Texas Tech leads, 29-8.
GAME NOTES: The Northern Arizona Lumberjacks and the Texas Tech Red Raiders will attempt to keep their early-season success going on Monday night when the two meet at United Spirit Arena in Lubbock.
NAU is in the midst of a season-opening four-game road swing, including two in the Lone Star State. The first of the Lumberjacks' Texas two-step came on Saturday against Texas San-Antonio, where they captured an impressive 74-63 triumph. It was a promising start for NAU, which went just 11-21 in Jack Murphy's first season as head coach in 2012-13
After two disappointing seasons under Billy Gillispie, Texas Tech made a splash in the offseason by bringing aboard legendary coach Tubby Smith, a former NCAA Tournament champion with Kentucky who had also led Minnesota to three appearances in the Big Dance in the past six seasons. The Smith era of Red Raiders basketball got off to a solid start in Friday's opener, as they dismissed Houston Baptist, 76-61.
Texas Tech has a firm handle on the all-time series with NAU, winning 29 of the 37 previous meetings.
The Lumberjacks started the new season with a bang, as they sprinted out to an 8-0 advantage over UTSA in the first 1:17, and they continued to lead for most of the game en route to the 11-point victory. The squad had a modest shooting performance at less than 43 percent from the field (including just 6-of-25 from 3-point range), but it made the most of its free-throw opportunities, shooting 18-of-21 from the line. The winning effort was paced by a pair of 17- point showings by Max Jacobsen and Aaseem Dixon. Quinton Upshur netted 15 points, Kris Yanku came off the bench to tally 12 points and three steals, while Gaellan Bewernick ripped down 11 rebounds. NAU will need to get balanced production like that all season, especially with the shocking news that came down just days ago that DeWayne Russell, the team's top returning scorer last season as a freshman (14.4 ppg), has left the team to transfer to a yet-to-be- announced program. Jacobsen (9.0 ppg) and Bewernick (6.0 ppg, 5.9 rpg) are now the team's top returning performers.
Beating up on a less-talented Houston Baptist squad was hardly an impressive feat for Texas Tech, but it was nonetheless a good sign as Smith's club started the season by shooting 46.4 percent from the floor. Jordan Tolbert led the charge in the frontcourt with 16 points and 12 rebounds, while Robert Turner was the only other player in double figures with 12 points. Jaye Crockett was the team's leading scorer a season ago (11.9 ppg) and got the new campaign off to a decent start with nine points (4-of-6 from the field), seven rebounds and two steals. In fact, the Red Raiders return most of their scoring production from 2012-13, as Tolbert, Crockett, Dejan Kravic and Dusty Hannah all averaged at least 6.9 ppg a season ago. One thing TTU hopes to improve on moving forward is its 3-point shooting, as it was only 3-of-17 from long range in the opener.
NAU has a solid road victory under its best, but winning two away from home in the span of three days is a tough task for anybody, let alone a squad as inexperienced as the Lumberjacks. Expect Texas Tech to defend its home court admirably.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Texas Tech 68, Northern Arizona 64
11/11 10:37:59 ET