In the past week, the Tigers’ basketball team experienced the emotional high of upsetting a top 5 team on the road in Baylor and leaping to number two in the national rankings, but fell victim to the mediocre Oklahoma State Cowboys in Stillwater only four days later in a clear trap game. Luckily for the Tigers, they have the luxury of returning to their homecourt, and will get to face the worst team in the Big 12 as well when the Texas Tech Red Raiders arrive in Columbia for Saturday afternoon’s contest.
Texas Tech is an up-and-coming team that has fought hard for new head coach Billy Gillispie, but has been forced to deal with a demanding Big 12 conference schedule that hasn’t done them any favors. At 0-7 in conference play (7-12 overall), the Red Raiders have failed to win a game in 2012, and picked up their last victory in a narrow 62-54 matchup at home against Southeastern Louisiana. A big reason for the struggles of Tech has been their ineptitude to score, especially in a conference known for its high-flying shootouts. In their seven conference games, the Red Raiders have failed to score over 60 points, a fact that doesn’t bode well against the up-tempo pace of the Tigers, who average nearly 83 points per contest.
While the Red Raiders have nine freshmen filling out their roster, newcomer Jordan Tolbert is clearly the most valuable asset to Tech, as he leads the team in scoring (12.6 points per game) and rebounds (6.4 per game). In similar fashion to Tigers’ forward Ricardo Ratliffe, Tolbert takes smart shots and sports a 56.6 field goal percentage as a result.
However, there isn’t a whole lot of talent surrounding the Red Raiders’ talented freshman, and coach Gillispie will attempt to slow the game down and create a defensive struggle. But with an incredible amount of youth and current lack of talent, this team has a long ways to go before it can compete with teams like Mizzou, and especially on the road in Columbia, where the Tigers have played at their preferred pace in each home matchup.
For the incredibly impatient bandwagon Tigers fans who seemed ready to jump ship following the team’s second loss in 20 games, this contest will be a reminder that Mizzou is still a top team, and just happened to have an off night in Stillwater. The Tigers are still a confident bunch, and with a convincing win Saturday afternoon, will be able to completely put Wednesday’s events behind them as they prepare for another important week of Big 12 games.