NCAA Monday Night Basketball: Texas Tech/Oklahoma Preview

by Big Al Staff

A college basketball doubleheader on ESPN concludes at 9 PM ET in a battle between two Big 12 teams nationally ranked in the top 25 coming off victories in the Big 12/SEC Challenge.

Oklahoma has won five games in a row to improve to an 11-4 mark after upsetting Alabama in Norman on Saturday, 66-61, as a 3.5-point underdog. The Sooners were without their leading scorer, Austin Reaves, and Alondes Williams against the Crimson Tide due to COVID quarantine protocols. They will not be available for tonight’s game.

Lon Kruger’s team has now pulled off three straight upset victories against ranked opponents. Oklahoma defeated Kansas and Texas in conference play before upsetting an Alabama team that was ranked ninth in the nation by the Associated Press. The Sooners took the Crimson Tides’ ninth spot in the new AP poll this week.

Kruger has over 70% of the production return last year's 19-12 team. Reaves leads the way this year with a 15.8 points-per-game scoring average while adding 5.1 assists-per-game and 5.1 rebounds-per-game. De’Vion Harmon is second on the team with a 13.1 points-per-game scoring average after pacing the team with 18 points on Saturday. Brady Manek is adding 11.0 points-per-game along with 4.0 rebounds-per-game.

Oklahoma is 25th in the nation adjusted offensive efficiency and 28th in defense at kenpom. The Sooners have been tough to score on inside the arc, with opponents making only 45.6% of their 2-point shots. But Oklahoma is allowing opposing shooters to convert 35.8% of their 3-pointers, 262nd in the nation. The Sooners are second in scoring in the Big 12 with a 76.9 points-per-game average.

Kruger’s team has high-profile victories against Texas, Kansas, and West Virginia to go along with their win against the Crimson Tide. Oklahoma is 6-3 in Big 12 play with losses to Baylor, Kansas, and Texas Tech. They also lost to Xavier in non-conference play.

Texas Tech ended a two-game losing streak on Saturday with a 76-71 victory in Baton Rouge against LSU as a 4.5-point favorite. The Red Raiders trailed 71-64 but scored the final 12 points of the game to pull out the victory.

Texas Tech dropped to 13th from 10th in today’s new Associated Press poll with a 12-5 record. The Red Raiders return home, where they have won only once in their four games in conference play.

This group is likely Beard’s most talented team in his five years as head coach of this program. While he lost three starters from the team that finished 18-13 last season, he was aggressive in attracting some high-level transfers while bringing in a good freshman class to join junior Kyler Edwards and sophomore Terrence Shannon. Some of the depth Beard had established diminished when five-star freshman Nimari Burnett decided to leave the team to transfer to another school. He was averaging 17.7 minutes-per-game but only scoring 5.3 points-per-game. Georgetown transfer Mac McClung has adapted to Beard’s system to lead the team with a 17.5 points-per-game scoring average. Shannon is second on the team by scoring 13.6 points-per-game.

Texas Tech is once again an outstanding defensive team under Beard. They are 13th in the nation in adjusted defensive efficiency, according to kenpom. The Red Raiders are also seventh in the country by forcing turnovers in 25.0% of their opponent’s possessions. This team thrives in getting second-chance shots. Texas Tech rebounds 35.2% of their missed shots, 22nd in the country. They also get to the free-throw line as they rank 20th in free throw rate. The weakness of this team is shooting the basketball. The Red Raiders make only 33.0% of their 3-pointers and 49.2% of their shots inside the arc, ranking 189th and 202nd, respectively. Kenpom ranks their adjusted offensive efficiency at 24th.

Texas Tech is 4-4 in the rugged Big 12 with losses to Baylor, West Virginia, Kansas, and Oklahoma State. They lost to Houston in non-conference play. Their highest-profile wins are against Texas and Oklahoma, along with Saturday’s victory against LSU.

BookMaker lists Texas Tech as a 7.5-point favorite with the total set at 131.

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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