Mens Basketball: Texas vs Texas Tech - D1SportsNet


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Mens basketball

Texas vs Texas Tech

Texas will be without two of the guards that began the season in its starting lineup when it faces No. 8 Texas Tech on Wednesday at the Frank Erwin Center in Austin, Texas,

With junior guard Kerwin Roach II out with an injured left hand and sophomore guard Andrew Jones at home in Irving getting treated for leukemia, the Longhorns will have to rely on their surprisingly productive bench and some freshmen to help them stay afloat in the stacked Big 12 Conference race.

Texas (11-6, 2-3 in Big 12 play) started four true freshmen -- guards Matt Coleman and Jase Febres along with forwards Mohamed Bamba and Jericho Sims -- during its Jan. 10 home win against No. 16 TCU. The Longhorns used a seven-man rotation in Saturday's 65-64 loss at Oklahoma State.

Junior guard Eric Davis Jr. has stepped into the breech for the Longhorns, averaging 20.0 points per game while hitting 15-of-25 (.600) field goals, including 8-of-14 (.571) 3-pointers, in 37.0 minutes per game over the past two contests. He led Texas with 18 points (7-10 FG, 4-5 threes) in 33 minutes on Saturday in the Longhorns' loss at Oklahoma State.

"Eric's a feel-good guy," Texas coach Shaka Smart said. "If it was up to me to orchestrate things, he'd go in and hit a quick three, he'd get a layup, make a couple of free throws. Then, you could count on him to play really, really well."

Bamba rules the paint for Texas and registered his seventh double-double of the year with his 11-point, 10-rebound effort at Oklahoma State on Saturday. He enters Wednesday's contest leading the Big 12 in both rebounding (10.4 rpg) and blocked shots (4.44 bpg) and ranks second nationally (thru games of Jan. 15) in blocks per game.

While the Longhorns are trying to piece together wins, Texas Tech is surging, heading to Austin with a full head of steam produced by a 72-71 win over No. 2 West Virginia at home on Saturday. Earlier in the season, the Red Raiders won decisively at Kansas; their only loss in league play is to now-No. 4 Oklahoma on the road.

"Coach (Chris) Beard has got them really bought into playing as a team," Smart said about his Tech counterpart. "If you look at their statistics, I believe they have only (three) guys in double figures scoring wise. But they've got a lot of really good players who have bought in right now who have scored five, six, seven, eight points (per game)."

Texas Tech (15-2, 4-1 in Big 12 play) started off the year with six straight wins and then lost to Seton Hall. The Raiders kept going and now boast a 4-1 mark over ranked teams, which could make for a dynamite NCAA Tournament resume.

"Everybody in this room understands Big 12 basketball," Beard said to the assembled media after Saturday's win. "The difference between a disappointing season and a good season is three or four possessions. The difference between a good season and a great season is another three or four possessions.

The Red Raiders have established a program single-season mark and a nation's-best five Top 25 victories on the season. Texas Tech has secured victories in eight of their last nine home games against Top 25 foes sparked by four wins over Top 10 opponents.

"We were right there last year," Beard added. "This year, it is nice to win close games, but we're just getting started. This race doesn't even really start until February. We're still all just kind of positioning ourselves and trying to survive and win the next one."

Texas leads the all-time series with the Red Raiders, 85-56, with their most recent meeting a 61-52 Longhorns win in last season's Big 12 tournament in Kansas City. Texas has won 21 consecutive games against Texas Tech in Austin entering Wednesday's contest. The last Texas Tech win in Austin came during the 1995-96 season when both schools were in the Southwest Conference.