Here’s a preview of the Texas Longhorns and the Texas Tech Red Raiders in Game 6 of the 2021 Big 12 Men’s Basketball Tournament at the T-Mobile Center in Kansas City.
No. 3 Texas (17-7, 11-6 in Big 12) vs. No. 6 Texas Tech (17-9, 9-8), 8:30 p.m. CT, Thursday, ESPN or ESPN2 (time is dependent on completion of Game 5)
Season series (Texas Tech won, 2-0): Texas Tech def. Texas, 79-77, in Austin, Texas, on Jan. 13; Texas Tech def. Texas, 68-59, in Lubbock, Texas, on Feb. 27.
Winner gets: a Friday semifinal game at 8:30 p.m. CT.
READ MORE: 2020-21 Big 12 Basketball Individual Awards
READ MORE: Predicting Every Big 12 Tournament Game
Projected starting lineups
Texas: F Greg Brown, F Jericho Sims, G Courtney Ramey, G Matt Coleman III, G Andrew Jones.
Texas Tech: F Marcus Santos-Silva, G Micah Peavy, G Kevin McCullar, G Kyler Edwards, G Mac McClung.
Player to watch
Texas: F Jericho Sims. The senior forward is picking the right time to show the Longhorns an uptick in his play. He’s averaging 8.7 points and 6.6 rebounds per game this season. But, he put together a double-double (16 points, 13 rebounds) in the Longhorns’ win over Oklahoma, and in the past seven games he’s averaged 11 points per game. This is the forceful, efficient Sims the Longhorns need in March. He is 35-for-45 from the floor in that span.
Texas Tech: G Kyler Edwards. When the Red Raiders made their run to the national championship game two years ago, Edwards, then a freshman, hit double figures in the national title game. He’s had an up-and-down year, but right now he’s moving up. He’s hit double figures in each of the last four games, he’s shot 20-of-28 from the floor and averaged 14.8 points per game, four points better than his season average. If this is the Edwards the Red Raiders get the rest of the way, they could make a long run in the NCAA Tournament.
Heading into the Tournament
Texas: After a three-game losing streak directly after the Longhorns had to cancel three out of four games, they’ve now won six of their last eight games, including the last three. Two of the three losses were to ranked teams, including Texas Tech, but one of their wins was over Kansas in overtime. Texas has scored at least 70 points in six of those last eight games. But, beware. The Longhorns’ lowest scoring output during that span came against — you guessed it — Texas Tech.
Texas Tech: The Red Raiders have been a team of streaks, and that’s concerning going into the Big 12 Tournament. Since Jan. 5, the Red Raiders have won three straight, lost two straight, won three straight, lost three straight, won three straight and then lost the season finale against Baylor. Texas Tech’s pattern this year has been that once a streak begins, it goes for at least two games. If that continues in Kansas City, then it will be a short stay, since a loss to Texas would make two straight.
Number to know
38.7: The Longhorns rank No. 2 in the Big 12 in rebounding offense, as the Longhorns have 928 rebounds in 24 games, second only to Kansas.
63.3: The points per game the Red Raiders’ defense gives up, which is the best in the Big 12 this season.
Texas. I went back and forth on this one. The Red Raiders have, frankly, had the Longhorns’ number the past few years, including winning both regular-season matchups this season. But the Longhorns are on an upswing right now, and after a period of imbalance, their backcourt-frontcourt balance that fueled their rise to the No. 4 ranking in January is back. The Red Raiders have plenty of defensive tricks to throw at the Longhorns. But their inconsistent on offense will be a problem against a Longhorns team that is playing much better on offense right now. I admit this flies in the face of the recent past, but I think the Longhorns win this one.
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