Texas Tech had a relatively disappointing trip to Maui, but they’ll get a chance to build up to conference play with a series of winnable games at home, where they have won 24 consecutive games dating back to the end of the 2020-21 season. That stretch of games starts tonight, with the Red Raiders facing a lowly Georgetown team in the Big 12-Big East Battle. The Hoyas were expected to be bad coming into the season but somehow have looked even worse than expected. They have three losses already despite not playing a single top-80 opponent, and their best win is over a sub-180 Kenpom squad in La Salle. Needless to say, Patrick Ewing’s seat should be scorching hot right now, and without drastic changes, it’s hard to envision the once-elite program having any sort of success in the near future. Despite the brand name, this is a team that Tech should beat and a game that will have absolutely no impact on the Red Raiders’ resume in March… unless they lose.
Where: United Supermarkets Arena (Lubbock, Texas)
When: 7:00 CST
Odds: Texas Tech -16.5, O/U: 137
Three players to watch
Wahab is a transfer who originally left the program in 2021 to go to Maryland, only to return after his stint for the Terrapins did not go to plan. He is capable of being a high-usage player offensively, averaging over 12 points per game on 55% shooting. Wahab is mostly an interior player, but he can stretch his shot out to about 20 feet. He is not a good passer though, as he has one assist for the entire season. One. Double-teaming him in the post has been an effective strategy for opposing teams. One thing to watch is his ability to hit the offensive glass- Wahab has two seven-OREB games already this season and is a very good finisher off of put-backs. Defensively, he is not much of a shot blocker but moves well for his size.
Spears has emerged as the heart and soul of this Hoyas team, which is not saying a ton but he has been their best facilitator and has played at least 35 minutes in every game. The Duquesne transfer is not a consistent shooter and is not good at finishing at the rim, particularly through contact, but he is a smart offensive player and is trusted a lot for a young player. Spears is probably my favorite player on Georgetown’s roster, and if he stays for a couple more years could be a cornerstone of their attempted rebuild. His passing will be an important factor in tonight’s game.
A strong candidate for the all-name team in college basketball (and not to be confused with Ali Ali of Butler), Akok has shown a lot of flashes on the basketball court when he’s been healthy. The 6’10 senior transfer from UCONN has dealt with injuries in every year of his college career, but on the court, he’s been one of the best shot blockers in the nation from a rate standpoint. Akok is incredibly skinny, which limits his rebounding and ability to draw fouls, but his defensive instincts help out this Georgetown team a ton. He’s also developed a good jump shot, albeit on low volume as he’s only attempted 25 threes on the season after taking 28 all of last year. Akok will play heavy minutes at the 5-spot (interchangeable with Wahab), so look for him to have a good matchup with Daniel Batcho.
What They’re Good At
Uhh, not much of anything? That sounds harsh but it’s true. They shoot threes at a decently high clip (36.6%) but don’t take a lot of them (342nd nationally in 3pt rate). They shoot well from the foul line but also don’t take a lot of those shots (186th in FTR). They are good at shot-blocking, but a lot of that is down to Akok Akok just being a great individual defender that can overwhelm the opponents that they have been facing (none of which have a big as good as Batcho). So yeah, there’s not a lot to choose from here. They do play at a faster tempo than most teams that Tech will face, which is interesting but not necessarily a good or a bad thing.
Keys for Texas Tech:
Crash the glass: Despite their size, the Hoyas are in the bottom 100 nationally for defensive rebounding. This seems like a really good game to get things going on the boards, which is one thing Tech has been inconsistent with this year.
Communicate well: The Ohio State game had way too many defensive breakdowns. Georgetown might not have the talent to exploit those mistakes like the Buckeyes did, but you don’t want to give them open shots when they have proven to at least be decent at hitting them.
Establish the style of play: This sounds cliche but it’s true. Tech is the superior team on paper. They have indicators (steal percentage, 2pt defense, assist rate, etc…) that should give them substantial advantages on both sides of the court as long as they play their game, so just staying in rhythm and getting Georgetown to play your style of game will be critical in this one.
Final thought: Yeah, you need to win this game. Not because beating Georgetown would be some massive win for the program, but rather that on a resume losing to them looks more like losing to Texas Southern than losing to a Big 12 school. I have a good feeling that Mark Adams will have his Red Raiders ready to fight tonight. If that is the case, Tech should
roll in this one. Georgetown lacks the talent, cohesiveness, and schematic detail to be able to consistently win these sort of games.
Final Prediction: Texas Tech 80-61 Georgetown