At the beginning of the season, the Texas Tech Red Raiders were picked to finish last in the Big XII alongside the Oklahoma Sooners. If pre-season rankings held any sort of value in basketball, we would most likely be seeing a situation in which the statement "I don't have to outrun the bear, all I need to do is outrun you" would have been true. While the Red Raiders have certainly played to their expectations, you can find the at the bottom of the barrel as they have yet to win a conference game.
Oklahoma, on the other hand, has already faced three of the top four teams in conference. While many thought the Sooners had a chance to go 1-3 in their opening conference games, not many predicted the win to come against the Kansas St. Wildcats. Lon Kruger has already proven to be the coach many thought he would be and the progression for his squad continues as they have rallied around each other.
Needless to say, this is a game the Sooners should win as the Red Raiders have struggled on the road in conference thus far.
If one were to look at the statistical rankings of the Texas Tech Red Raiders, you would find they rank in the bottom half of nearly every category. This is a team that will remind Sooner fans of what Oklahoma's team was like last season under Jeff Capel. The one saving grace for this Tech squad has been the fact that they are shooting 46.5% from the field as a team on the season.
Leading the charge for the Red Raiders is a freshman forward named Jordan Tolbert. However, Tolbert has been very sporadic in the amount of minutes he gets. Against Oklahoma St. he saw 40 minutes of game play and followed that up by a mere 17 minutes against Baylor. How much this kid is going to play is still a mystery. Given the fact that no one is 100% sure just how much playing time Tolbert will get, he is averaging a team high 13.5 points per game and has struggled recently.
Outside of scoring, Texas Tech has been atrocious at rebounding, something Oklahoma has excelled at and should do once again today. The Red Raiders are pulling down an average of 31.9 rebounds per game. This means that there will be little to no second chance points for Tech and could lead to some quick transition points for Oklahoma. In addition to the Sooners have shown they can be very active in the passing lanes. Tech is turning the ball over at a rate of nearly 17 a game. This is an area OU can take advantage of with the scoring option of Steven Pledger combined with the ability of Romero Osby to get up and down the court and the speed of Sam Grooms.
In comparison, the Red Raiders are only getting roughly six steals per game. While Tech struggles to keep pace in terms of scoring with 64.6 points a game, this could be a tough one for them. Oklahoma has been great at taking care of the ball with the new starting line-up and should Lon Kruger choose to use it again, this game heavily favors Oklahoma.
Look for Oklahoma to get out in transition, get second chance points, and take advantage of the inexperienced players Texas Tech will be putting on the floor. If OU loses this one at home, there will need to be some serious evaluations internally as to what went wrong.