The Texas Tech men’s basketball team will begin the postseason at 11 a.m. on Thursday at the Sprint Center in Kansas City against Texas. The Phillips 66 Big 12 Championships begin on Wednesday at 6 p.m. with Iowa State and Oklahoma State facing off, followed by an 8 p.m. game between Kansas State and TCU.
Tech finished the regular season with an 18-13 (9-9 Big 12) record and is slotted as a fifth seed in the Big 12 tournament. Texas finished with a 19-12 (9-9 Big 12) record and is the fourth seed in the tournament. Kansas, Baylor and Oklahoma round out the top three seeds in the conference tournament, followed by Tech and Texas. West Virginia is the sixth seed followed by TCU, Oklahoma State, Iowa State and Kansas State.
The Red Raiders are entering Thursday’s matchup on a four-game losing streak. Their most recent loss came against No. 1 Kansas in the last regular-season matchup of the year. The Jayhawks beat Tech 66-62 in the United Supermarkets Arena on Saturday.
The Longhorns are entering the postseason after suffering an 81-59 loss to Oklahoma State on Saturday. Before that, however, Texas had won five games in a row including double-digit victories over No. 20 West Virginia and No. 22 Texas Tech.
Tech and Texas have split their season series at 1-1. The Red Raiders won the first meeting 62-57 in Austin after being down 12 points at the half. Big 12 Freshman of the Year Jahmi’us Ramsey led the team with 18 points followed by fellow freshman guard Terrence Shannon Jr. who finished with 13 points. Sophomore guard Andrew Jones led the way for Texas offensively, scoring 18 points on 6-14 shooting.
As a team, the Red Raiders shot 46.7 percent from the field and 25 percent from the three-point line, but the difference in their first and second half shooting performance was big. Tech shot 39 percent from the field and zero percent from the three-point line in the first half before turning things around after the break.
The Longhorns flipped the script in the second matchup, beating the Red Raiders 68-58 in the USA. The Longhorns were down seven points at halftime before exploding for 38 points in the second half. Jones torched Tech for 22 points on 8-14 shooting. Ramsey again led Tech in scoring with 13 points, followed by freshman Kevin McCullar who scored 12 points.
As a team, the Red Raiders finished the game shooting 39 percent from the field and 33 percent from behind the arc. But, unlike the first meeting, Tech’s shooting got worse in the second half while Texas made over 60 percent of its shots from the field and the three-point line in the second half.
Jones has been the Longhorns leading scorer the last two games against Tech, averaging 20 points and three three-pointers against them this year. The team's second-leading scorer in the game has either been junior guard Matt Coleman III or sophomore guard Courtney Ramey.
All three of Texas’ guards are averaging over 10 points per game this season. The Red Raiders have been able to limit the use of all three guards, but Jones has been able to get loose and make shots in both matchups.
The Longhorns, in both matchups, have outrebounded Tech by seven and have made an average of three more three-points than the Red Raiders.
Grabbing rebounds has been a problem for Tech all season. Since conference play began, Tech ranks second to last in both defensive and offensive rebounds, according to Big 12 Sports.com. They are also second to last in rebounding margins with a -3.9 margin. The Longhorns are last in rebounding margins with a -5.7 margin but have still been able to outrebound Tech due to their size.
The winner of this matchup will take on either No. 1 Kansas or the winner of the Oklahoma State versus Iowa State matchup at 8 p.m. on Friday in the semifinals.