Here is everything you need to know about the Texas Tech Red Raiders and the Iowa State Cyclones in our Texas Tech vs. Iowa State Big 12 Tournament men’s basketball preview.
No. 3 Texas Tech (23-8, 12-6) vs. No. 6 Iowa State (20-11, 7-11), 8:30 p.m. CT, Thursday (time is dependent on completion of Game 4)
Season series (1-1): Iowa State def. Texas Tech, 51-47, in Ames, Iowa, on Jan. 5; Texas Tech def. Iowa State, 72-60, in Lubbock, Texas, on Jan. 18.
Winner gets: a Friday semifinal game against the winner of Game 4 at 8:30 p.m. Friday.
Projected starting lineups
Texas Tech: F Kevin Obanor, F Bryson Williams, G Adonis Arms, G/F Terrence Shannon Jr., G Davion Warren
Iowa State: G Gabe Kalscheur, G Izaiah Brockington, F George Conditt IV, F Aljaz Kunc, G Tyrese Hunter.
Player to watch
Texas Tech F Bryson Williams: He earned selection to the Heartland College Sports All-Big 12 First Team and the All-Big 12 Coaches First Team after emerging as the Red Raiders’ leading scorer. Williams averaged 14 points and 4.3 rebounds as he took advantage of Terrence Shannon Jr.’s month-long absence to become one of the focal points of the Red Raider offense. He also adapted easily to Tech’s ‘no-middle’ defensive scheme. His 33-point performance at Kansas in Tech’s double-overtime loss will be talked about for a while.
Iowa State G Izaiah Brockington: He earned selection to the Heartland College Sports All-Big 12 First Team and the All-Big 12 Coaches First Team after transferring from Penn State to join the Cyclones. He became the focal point of the Cyclones’ offense as he averaged 17.5 points and 7.2 rebounds per game, both of which led Iowa State. Brockington plays nearly every minute, and at one point in Big 12 action he scored at least 22 points in four straight games. If he doesn’t score at least 20 points, then the opposing defense has done its job.
Texas Tech: It’s unclear what anyone expected when Chris Beard left Texas Tech for Texas. But the elevation of Mark Adams to head coach led to the Red Raiders maintaining their standard. The Red Raiders went 5-1 against the conference’s Top 4 teams — including a sweep of Texas — and Adams earned the Heartland College Sports Coach of the Year Award. As the season evolved, the Red Raiders ended up with a half-dozen players that averaged at least eight points per game, and a defense that is hard to goad into mismatches. Even better news is that it sounds like Kevin McCullar is on track to be back in the lineup for the Big 12 Tournament.
Iowa State: Like the Red Raiders, the Cyclones hired a new head coach last offseason in T.J. Otzelberger, who worked as an assistant coach under three different Cyclones head coaches. He inherited a two-win team in which most of the players either graduated or transferred away. So Otz went to work, bringing in a group of transfers, managing to hang onto prized recruit Tyrese Hunter and the Cyclones became the surprise team of non-conference with a 12-0 start. Iowa State ended up with a losing record in Big 12 play, but a 4-1 surge to end the slate put them in position to win 20 games and be a virtual lock for the NCAA Tournament in Otz’s first season. There’s more work to do, but he’s built a foundation that should be solid for seasons to come.
If Texas Tech wins on Thursday, the all-time series between the two teams will be an even-up 21-21.
Texas Tech 58, Iowa State 53. Defense travels, and these two teams have two of the best in the country. But you need to score, too, and I’ll take Tech’s balance over Iowa State’s reliance on Brockington in a game like this.
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.