Texas Tech’s men’s basketball team will look to add a win to their 8-1 record when they take on its highest-ranked opponent of the season, No.5 Gonzaga at noon on Saturday for the Jerry Colangelo Classic at the Footprint Center in Phoenix, AZ.

Tech owns a 3-0 all-time record against Gonzaga, with the last win sending the Red Raiders to their first Final Four in program history, according to Tech Athletics. 

“Their program speaks for itself,” head basketball coach Mark Adams said of Gonzaga following Tech’s win over Arkansas State. “When I look back at when we played them in that elite-eight game, when you look at our journey … we feel like Gonzaga might have been the toughest team we played.”

The Red Raiders are coming off a 75-62 win over Arkansas State on Tuesday, while Gonzaga hasn’t played since Dec. 9. A matchup featuring Gonzaga against Washington was scheduled for Dec. 12 but was cancelled due to COVID-19 protocols in the Huskies program. 

After Tech’s win on Tuesday, Adams was asked to share his opinion on Gonzaga’s long rest period before their contest.

“I certainly like the time off to prepare, guys are rested, a lot of preparation, they’re mentally and physically gonna be ready,” Adams said. “Not to take anything away from Arkansas State but I think in the back of our guys’ mind we were still thinking about Gonzaga.”

Tech got its first win over a ranked opponent with a 57-52 overtime victory over No.18 Tennessee on Dec. 7, who was ranked No. 13 at the time, according to the Associated Press Top 25 Poll. 

Gonzaga’s 7-foot-1 freshman center Chet Holmgren (7-foot-6 wingspan) was the top-ranked recruit in the Class of 2021, according to ESPN and 247 Sports. 

So far this season, Holmgren has averaged 13.5 points and 8.2 rebounds. He recorded a season-high 15 rebounds and matched it with 15 points in Gonzaga’s last game against Merrimack,, according to Gonzaga University Athletics. 

Holmgren also leads the West Coast Classic with 3.9 blocks-per-game, according to WCCSports. 

Adams will be tasked with finding a way to stop the 7-foot-1 matchup, but it’s safe to assume 6-foot-11 redshirt-freshman Daniel Batcho will play a big role in defending Holmgren. 

Batcho, who has earned public praise from his coaches and teammates on multiple occasions this season, recorded a season-high 11 rebounds in Tech’s upset win over Tennessee. 

Holmgren is far from the only talented player on the No.5 Bulldogs’ roster though, with junior forward Drew Timme leading the Bulldogs in scoring with an average of 18.4 points-per-game. Last season, he led the West Coast Conference in scoring with 19 points-per-game.

On the other hand, the Red Raiders' top scoring average is shared by two players, with junior guard Terrence Shannon Jr and redshirt-junior guard Kevin McCullar both averaging 14.3 points-per-game this season, according to Tech Athletics. 

Both players recorded 42 minutes in Tech’s overtime win over Tennessee, and Shannon was notably held out of the second half of Tech’s last game against Arkansas after experiencing back spasms. 

“It was hurting at halftime and thought we’d try in the second half, but he just couldn't go…” Adams said after Tech’s most recent game. “I don’t think it’s anything serious, he’s had that off and on for the last couple of years … I expect him to be back in the next couple of days.”

Adams also said a knee issue could sideline junior guard Mylik Wilson for a few games, who leads Tech with 3.3 assists-per-game, according to Tech Athletics.

“Mylik has a knee issue that we’re looking at and it may need surgery, so we’re trying to decide what to do with him at this time,” Adams said. “if he does have surgery … it’ll keep him out two or three weeks. More than likely we’ll keep him out for the next couple games. 

After defeating their first ranked opponent of the season on Dec. 7 against Tennessee, Tech will look for another upset over Gonzaga on the Phoenix Suns’ home court.

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