LUBBOCK, Texas – Back in the national top-10 and playing at home to start the week, No. 8-ranked Texas Tech is set to host No. 23 Oklahoma at 8 p.m. on Tuesday at the United Supermarkets Arena before traveling to Austin to play Texas on Saturday.
The Red Raiders (13-1, 2-0 Big 12) have only one loss through 14 games for the second straight season and for the fourth time in program history (1995-96, 2001-02, 2017-18, 2018-19) following wins over West Virginia and Kansas State to begin conference play last week. TTU currently leads the nation defensively by limiting opponents to 33.4 shooting from the field and 24.1 percent on 3-pointers and is ranked No. 8 in the Associated Press Top-25, No. 8 in the USA TODAY Coaches Poll, No. 6 in the ESPN Power Rankings and is No. 7 in the NCAA NET Rankings. The Sooners (12-2, 1-1 Big 12) split their conference openers with a loss at Kansas before a 10-point win over Oklahoma State. TTU is now 9-0 on its home court this season after the team's 63-57 win over KSU last Saturday and is 42-4 at home under coach Chris Beard who is in his third season leading the program.
"They are going to be in the fight for the conference championship," said Beard of OU. "They are one of the older, more experienced teams in the country. It's a team we have a lot of respect for and obviously they have one of the best coaches in the history of the game and really good players. They have versatile players with big guys who are skilled and can shoot. A lot of times they will have four playmakers on the court and that puts a lot of pressure on your defense."
Texas Tech will return to action this weekend when it travels to Austin to play Texas at 1 p.m. inside the Frank Erwin Center. The Red Raiders have not won in Austin since Feb. 24, 1996, a string of 22 straight losses to the Longhorns on their home court.
POLLS/STAT RANKINGS: Texas Tech is back in the AP Top-25 after starting the season with a 13-1 record following the wins over WVU and KSU last week to move up from No. 11 to No. 8 this week. Statistically, the Red Raiders lead the nation by limiting opponents to only 33.4 percent shooting from the field and 24.1 percent on 3-pointers. The team's defense is ranked second by limiting opponents to only 53.1 points per game through 14 games and the team's margin of victory of 20.4 points ranks ninth nationally. TTU tops the Big 12 statistically with 17.29 turnovers forced and is second with 5.1 blocks per game, a 69.4 percentage on free throws, 7.6 steals per game and 71 total blocks and 107 total steals. Jarrett Culver currently ranks second in the Big 12 with 18.7 points per game which is 72nd nationally, while Matt Mooney is second in the conference with 2.00 steals per game and Tariq Owens is second with 34 total blocks. Owens is 20th nationally with 2.43 blocks per game and Culver is 54th with a 56.0 shooting percentage. The Red Raiders, who were unranked in the preseason polls, have now been ranked in seven straight polls. The team appeared in 14 AP polls last season and advanced to the NCAA Elite Eight, but would enter this season unranked through three weeks. The Red Raiders finished the 2017-18 season at No. 6 in the USA TODAY Coaches Poll and were in its Top-10 rankings seven times during the season. The No. 6 ranking to finish the season matched a program-best set on Feb. 12, 2018 in the USA TODAY Coaches poll and on Feb. 19, 2018 in the AP Top 25 Poll.