Winners, Losers, and What to Watch
Here’s a summary of the winners and losers this week and a look ahead at Saturday’s premier match-up.
Winner-Texas Tech Red Raiders
Texas Tech is off to a 13-1 start, with their lone loss to Seton Hall on a neutral court. They are now 2-0 in Big 12 play after defeating #18 Baylor 77-53 last weekend and #10 Kansas 85-73 on Tuesday. The Red Raiders were impressive against Kansas. They controlled the game all the way from the tip to the final buzzer and picked up their first win in program history at Phog Allen Fieldhouse. Texas Tech has a balanced attack that combines experience with youth. Senior point guard Keenan Evans leads the team averaging 16.5 points per game and has been hot at the start of conference play, scoring 18 against Baylor and 15 against Kansas. Freshman Zhaire Smith and Jarrett Culver are averaging 10.7 and 10.5 points per contest, respectively. The Red Raiders will look to take care of Kansas State at home on Saturday afternoon before traveling to Norman to take on Trae Young and #7 Oklahoma on Tuesday.
Loser-Texas A&M Aggies
After going 11-1 in non-conference play, which included a win over West Virginia in the season opener in Germany and their lone loss to Arizona on a neutral site, the Texas A&M Aggies have scuffled out of the gate in conference play. This week, the Aggies lost their first two games in SEC play, losing 79-57 at Alabama last Saturday and 83-66 to a struggling Florida team at home on Tuesday night. Injuries and off the court issues have stymied Texas A&M as of late, most notably a three-game suspension to their leading scorer D.J. Hogg and a knee injury that has sidelined big man Admon Gilder. The Aggies need them back sooner rather than later if they hope to snap out of their slump and be contenders in SEC play. Texas A&M takes on LSU at home on Saturday before traveling to Lexington to face #17 Kentucky on Tuesday.
#7 Oklahoma at #6 West Virginia-7:15pm ESPN2
Saturday’s premier matchup features two of the nation’s top teams squaring off against each other in Morgantown, West Virginia. Oklahoma, led by the nation’s leading scorer and assist man, Trae Young, will face off against Jevon Carter and West Virginia. The two programs have combined to win 23 consecutive games heading into Saturday’s showdown. The game will likely be determined by Trae Young’s ability to handle West Virginia’s full court press. The Mountaineers hold their opponents to just 64.9 points per game, while the Sooners lead the nation in scoring at 95.8 points per game. In a game of contrasting styles, it will be interesting to see which will prevail. They say defense wins championships, but this is just a regular season game in early January. Despite being on the road, I predict Oklahoma will defeat West Virginia 81-74.