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Oklahoma

vs.

Texas Tech

College Basketball

Pick

2/13/18

Things have gone in almost opposite directions for these teams over the last couple weeks. Oklahoma is in free fall, losing six of its last eight games, while Texas Tech is suddenly first in the Big 12 and won its last six. With the Red Raiders at home, you’ll be hard pressed to find someone backing the struggling Sooners.

The biggest problem for Oklahoma this season has been winning on the road and this game won’t help. The Sooners have lost their last six road trips, most recently falling at Iowa State, which sits at the bottom of the Big 12 standings. Even worse for them is that Texas Tech is dominating opposition, winning its last three all by at least 12 points. Everything is working for the Red Raiders offensively and defensively.

It’s a wonder how much should be put into the last time these teams played, which was over a month ago when Oklahoma won 75-65. Tech actually led at halftime and then Trae Young took things into his own hands and finished with 27 points and nine assists. Oklahoma won by making twice as many free throws (18 to 9) and holding Tech to just 6-of-25 shooting from deep.

Texas Tech has jumped to the top of the standings through defense as it leads in multiple categories, namely defensive efficiency. Its weakest spot may be giving up free throws, which is where Young and Oklahoma need to attack. If Young attacks and draws fouls, that could at least keep the game close. The problem is that Young also went 7-of-23 from the field in that last meeting and he could easily have just as difficult of a time getting open looks against this defense. Christian James came through with 15 points in that win, but similar to the rest of the team outside of Young, he’s hard to trust. James had 22 points in the loss to Iowa State, but just 23 total in his previous three games. Young is trying to will his team to wins, but when other players on the team don’t step up, that’s not enough.

The Sooners will probably run into trouble again unless someone else other than Young can step up in this game. The Red Raiders are great defensively and it’s hard to see Oklahoma getting enough outside of Young. The other reason for OU’s struggles is on the defensive side where it ranks below average in most categories, namely in field-goal percentage allowed.

Tech probably has the worst offense in the conference, but has seen throughout the season, that doesn’t really matter. Point guard Keenan Evans has gone quietly under the radar, but he’s doing it all with more than 18 points per game. Young gets the hype, but Evans has been equally important to the Raiders, at least on the offensive end and in late game situations. Outside of Evans, the Raiders have also gotten more consistent production from Jarrett Culver and Zhaire Smith, both freshmen that can do a little bit of everything.

If Oklahoma had a better defense there’d be more reason to take the road team. However, the lone reasons to back the Sooners in this spot is that they’re in dire need of a win and beat Tech in the previous meeting. With how the Red Raiders are playing, there’s little reason to suggest they’ll slip up in this spot in a rematch with Trae Young.

Our Pick - Texas Tech -7

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