The Texas Tech men’s basketball team is looking to remain undefeated as they face off against the Providence College Friars at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday for the Big 12-Big East Battle at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Rhode Island.
After Mark Adams became the first head coach in program history to win each of his first six games, he’ll be tasked with getting the Red Raiders ready for their first official away game of the season. This year's Big 12-Big East Battle will also be Tech’s first game in school history to take place in Rhode Island.
Providence’s most recent game resulted in a 85-71 victory over Saint Peter’s University on Saturday, and the Friar's leading scorer was 6-foot-8 graduate student forward Noah Horchler, who recorded his third double-double of the season after scoring 25 points and recording 11 rebounds.
Horchler reached his scoring total by shooting a season-high 75 percent from behind the arc (3-4) and added on another team-high five assists. Horchler’s 39 minutes against SPU were one shy of the full game, and the only other player in the game to match his playing-time total was Providence’s 6-foot-4 graduate student guard Aljami Durham.
Unlike Horchler, Durham didn't set personal season-bests with his abundance of playing time against SPU, instead recording 7 turnovers for the most by a Providence player all season.
On the other hand, the Red Raiders had only one player reach 30 minutes in their last game against Lamar, when junior guard Terrance Shannon Jr went 4-8 from behind the arc and 5-11 from the field for a total of 15 points.
It was senior forward Kevin Obanor who led Tech in scoring against Lamar though, earning 20 points in only 20 minutes on 60 percent shooting from the field and 50 percent (3-6) from three. He also recorded 7 rebounds, second only to super-senior Marcus Santos-Silva’s 12.
“It feels good to score but at the same time we have a very talented group that can all score,” Obanor said after the win over Lamar. “...Some days might be my night to score but my main goal is to always be on the defensive end, always play my heart out, keep rebounding, just doing the little things in order for us to win.”
Tech has got a lot of rebounding production from their forwards so far this season, with all four of their forwards who average over ten minutes per game filling in the top four rebounders for the Red Raiders so far this season.
Tech’s 42 rebounds-per-game average trails only TCU in the Big 12 so far this season (43), but they lead the conference in offensive rebounds per game with 17 and have also given up the fewest rebounds to opponents (145), according to Big 12 Sports.
Super-Senior Bryson Williams currently leads the team in total rebounds with 37, while Santos-Silva trails shortly behind with 34. Obanor’s 28 ranks third, and 6-foot-11 redshirt-freshman Daniel Batcho has one less with 27.
Batcho’s 27 rebounds come despite a small sample of playing time so far this season, and his production in the glass-cleaning department has earned him public praise in postgame press conferences from teammates and coaches several times this season.
"I think I'm just trying to play hard and do everything out there that I can," Batcho said after Tech’s win over Omaha. "Because I know like, right now I'm not paying a lot of minutes, so as soon as I'm on the court I'm trying to play as hard as I can."
The effects of Batcho’s efforts can be best observed by seeing how many rebounds he would score if he played a single minute, and comparing it to other players in the Big 12 with at least five rebounds. Batcho’s rebound-per-minute rate is .45, the best in the conference as of Nov. 30, according to Big 12 Sports.
The next four players trailing Batcho are Oklahoma’s Mawein (.429), West Virginia’s Paulicap (.404), Baylor’s Tchamwa Tchatchoua (.373) and Tech’s Santos-Silva (.351).
The Red Raiders will be looking to win the rebound battle over Providence in an effort to remain undefeated and earn their seventh win this season in Rhode Island on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.
With a chance to earn a 7-0 start for only the fifth time in school history, Adams will be tasked with getting the Red Raiders ready for their first away game this season against Providence. Tech’s next game is not for another six days, when the Red Raiders take on Tennessee in the Madison Square Garden in New York for the Jimmy V Classic.