The Texas Tech Red Raiders and the Oklahoma State Cowboys may come from different states, and certainly their teams are very different. But they enter Thursday’s first round game of the Big 12 Tournament under similar circumstances.
Both Pat Knight and Sean Sutton succeeded their fathers as head coaches of their respective teams.
Both teams are 16-14 and 7-9 in conference, having won against high ranked teams. Texas Tech beat then-ranked No. 14 Gonzaga, No. 9 Texas A&M, No. 22 Kansas State, and No. 5 Texas. Oklahoma State beat No. 5 Kansas.
In addition, both teams suffered surprising losses. Texas Tech dropped games to Sam Houston State and Centenary. Oklahoma State lost at North Texas and Oral Roberts.
The squads go into Thursday knowing the only way to make the NCAA Tournament would be to win the Big 12.
Going into the game, what do the Red Raiders have to do to beat the very similar Oklahoma State?
First, Martin Zeno needs to be the leader and coach on the floor for the Red Raiders.
Zeno has done this in the last three games. Against Texas, he had 15 points and hit crucial free throws at the end to secure the win. In Tech’s loss to Kansas, he had 19 points and scored 27 against Baylor.
Alan Voskuil must put the Baylor game—in which he did not score—behind him and produce close to his 12.9 points per game. When Voskuil is moving and hitting his shots, the Red Raiders can be tough to stop.
Freshman guard, John Roberson must continue his strong play. Roberson has scored in the double digits in his last three games, and in six out his last 10.
Trever Cook and Esmir Rizvic need to be factors for Tech in this game. Both Cook and Rizvic need to contribute in altering shots and getting rebounds.
Cook put up 14 points against both A&M and Texas, leading to Tech victories in both games. Rizvic had six points and five rebounds in a Tech victory over Iowa State.
The main thing Tech needs to do is play fundamentally sound. They need to limit turnovers, box-out on defense, and make the easy baskets.
In the Baylor game last Saturday, Tech missed several lay-ups. They also need to hit free throws. Tech shot only 67.9 percent from the line against Baylor.
Finally, Tech cannot let the opponent’s top three-point shooters get easy looks from the outer range. In the game against Baylor, Tech hardly got a hand in LaceDarius Dunn’s face when he hit six out of nine three-pointers.
Byron Eaton and James Anderson are shooting 39.5 percent and 37.8 percent respectively from behind the arc.
Tech has some psychological advantages entering Thursday’s contest. Since Bob Knight was head coach in 2001, Tech has won the first game in the Big 12 Tournament every year.
Plus, Oklahoma State is the only Big 12 southern school yet to face Tech since Pat Knight became head coach.
However, Oklahoma State has won the last two games against Tech in the conference tournament. Therefore, Thursday’s game will come down to who can make the least amount mistakes—and who wants it more.