At A Glance:
Texas Tech: 10-1. AP: 20 ESPN: 24 BP: 19 RPI: 33 BPI: 25
New Mexico: 12-1. AP: 19 ESPN: 17 BP: 27 RPI: 17 BPI: 5
The bad news for the Red Raiders is that they don’t have a lot of depth in the backcourt. The good news is that they produce. Iron man John Roberson (35 minutes a game) was the money man against Washington and has averaged 21 points a game in his last four outings. If he keeps that up he has to be a first-team All-Big 12 performer. His compatriots, David Tairu and Nick Okorie, hit more than half their shots from radar love but also turn the ball over more than they pass it successfully.
The Lobos have a little more depth but are largely dependent on their starters. Dairese Gary is their best defender while Phillip McDonald is a reliable scorer. Both guards average in double figures. Waterbug Jamal Fenton is a pest off the bench while fellow reserve Nate Barth hopes to break out of a shooting slump (three for 18 his last five appearances).
Advantage: Texas Tech. Their trio grande are more consistent producers.
Mike Singletary evokes many overdone comparisons to his football namesake. Against Stanford he had his best game of the season with 28 points and six rebounds. D’Walyn Roberts had nineteen rebounds against TCU while Darko Cohadarevic also provides banging in the paint. Bench support comes from trigger-happy Brad Reese and defensive specialist Theron Jenkins.
Darlington Hobson looks like a prototypical NBA two-guard but usually swings over to the three. He singlehandedly pulled the Lobos from defeat in their amazing comeback over Creighton but couldn’t do the same against Oral Roberts. His frontcourt mate Roman Martinez has increased his rebounding but has only shot four from 21 in his last two outings. Don’t expect much offense from A.J. Hardeman but do expect a Mike Rowe-like enthusiasm for the dirty work. Will Brown provides the lone bench support up front and has given quality minutes recently.
Advantage: New Mexico. As Hobson and Martinez go, so go the Lobos.
Pat Knight couldn’t ask for a much better start from his charges. Only one two-point loss to a tough Wichita State team prevents them from being undefeated. He has developed a squad that gets its points from inside and outside but gives up less than 68 points a game. Plus he’s not calling out coaches from other schools.
Steve Alford is quite familiar with Pat Knight, having known him since Pat was a teenage scamp at his father’s practices. He had a disappointing run at Iowa that was rife with internal strife and has gotten the Lobos playing their best ball since 1997-98.
Advantage: Push. Both of these men have the same influence and are producing the same results.
These teams are mirror images of each other that will push the ball but make sure they don’t neglect their defensive responsibilities. It’s no surprise that their rankings are very close. However, I think the Pit will make just enough of a difference in this matchup that should go down to the wire.
New Mexico 81, Texas Tech 78