On Wednesday evening (8:00 P.M., ESPNU), the Missouri Tigers (13-3, 1-0) travel to Lubbock, Texas to play the Texas Tech Red Raiders (12-3, 0-1).
Tech is coming off an 81-52 loss at Oklahoma State on Saturday and are one of the country's better scoring clubs at 78.5 points per game. The Red Raiders are led by Mike Singletary, who is scoring 15.6 points/game and grabbing 5.9 rebounds/game, and guard John Roberson, who is scoring 13.0 points/game and handing out 5.5 assists/game.
On the season, Texas Tech has played a rather soft schedule, mostly at home. They like to share the ball and get it inside, but they've struggled with ball security. They're not a great 3-PT shooting team, but have a couple of guys, David Tairu (52% 3-PT FG%), and Nick Okorie (42% 3-PT FG%), who shoot the three very well. Roberson plays 35 minutes/game, shoots 37.5% from behind the arc, and carries a 2-to-1 assists/turnover ratio into this game. The rest of their team does not handle the ball especially well (15 turnovers/game). Singletary rarely shoots the three, but gets to the FT line almost 8 times a game. Tech plays about eight or nine people on a regular basis, with Roberson and Singletary logging over 30 minutes/game.
Missouri has been playing much better since their early December 1-point loss at ORU. This is their first conference road test, and playing on the road in the Big 12 is a serious challenge for everyone. Several questions remain to be answered. Can the Tigers play their "brand of basketball" outside the state of Missouri, and establish their up-tempo pace of the game? Will the Tigers bring the defensive intensity to the floor in Lubbock that has proven successful for them at home? Will they "hang their hats on their defense"? If these questions are answered in the affirmative, then I believe Missouri will be pleased with the results Wednesday evening.
The Tigers' youth bodes well for the future, but will be tested on the road in conference. Freshmen and sophomores have played 55% of the minutes for the Tigers this season, and have scored 65% of the points, pulled down 49% of the rebounds, and registered 54% of the Tigers' assists and blocked shots this season, and pilfered 52% of the team's steals. Five of the Tigers' top seven in 3-PT FG% are freshmen and sophomores.