Cincinnati at Texas Tech Preview

Cincinnati (14-7, 3-5) will look to regroup Saturday when they visit Lubbock (TX) for a 6 pm tip off against the 15th-ranked Texas Tech Red Raiders (16-4, 5-2).

Following the Bearcats' 69-65 road loss at West Virginia, Wes Miller called his team's blown 10-point lead with six minutes remaining both a "meltdown" and "unacceptable."

"I'm extremely disappointed in how we finished the game. We have to be better at closing out, especially a 10-point lead with six minutes left. That's inexcusable and falls on the coach. I have to do better at preparing my team. We blew an opportunity on the road," Miller said during his post-game press conference.

Cincinnati will try to rebound against a Texas Tech team that is currently second in the Big 12 standings and is also coming off a road loss to TCU, 85-78.

(Photo: Texas Tech Athletics)

Key stats and notes:

Tech currently ranks 15th in the NET ratings and 27th in Kenpom. The Red Raiders are 11-0 at home this season with a 16.8 average margin of victory. Tech ranks 13th nationally in Kenpom's adjusted offensive efficiency and 78th in adjusted defensive efficiency.

- Grant McCasland has seen six different players lead his team in scoring this season.

- Texas Tech averages 77.2 points per game, while giving up 68.1 points per game. Their 9.2 scoring margin ranks ninth in the Big 12, behind Cincinnati. 

- Tech makes 46.6 percent of their field goal attempts and currently ranks second in the Big 12 in 3-point field goal percentage (37.6). Tech averages nine made 3's per game. Defensively, they have the worst 3-point defense in the league, allowing teams to convert 34.2 percent of their attempts. They rank ninth in field goal percentage defense (42.5 percent)

- Cincinnati allowed West Virginia to attempt 22 second half free throws, and 28 for the game. Against Texas Tech, they will have to be better defensively. Tech leads the league in free throw percentage, making 77.5 percent of their attempts.

- UC remains eighth nationally in rebounding margin and best in the Big 12 with a 10.0 season margin, after out-rebounding West Virginia 42-33. Texas Tech isn't a great rebounding team so there could be opportunities for second chance points that the Bearcats have to capitalize on. Tech ranks second to last in the Big 12 in both total rebounds per game, as well as rebound margin. 

Cincinnati's 1961 national title run began with a 78-55 win over Texas Tech in Lawrence, Kansas, and it's the only all-time meeting between the teams..

Players to watch:

6'2 Sophomore G Pop Isaacs

The Vegas native leads the Red Raiders in scoring at 17.4 points per game and also leads the Big 12 with 20.3 ppg. in conference games.

Isaacs is coming off a 25 point performance against TCU along with career-high 9 assists. The versatile wing had a career-high 32 points against BYU and has scored in double-figures 17 times this season with a career-best 11 straight. More of a volume shooter, he connects on 33 percent of his three-point attempts and has made three or more attempts from deep in seven of his last nine games. Isaacs has made 83 percent of his free throw attempts this season, after making 89 percent as a freshman. 

6'0 Fifth Year Senior G Joe Toussaint

A West Virginia transfer, Toussaint is currently averaging 13 points per game, while making 43.1 percent of his field goal attempts. Toussaint had nine assists in the TCU loss, but also turned the ball over eight times. Still, Toussaint leads the Red Raiders in assists per game (4.3). While he is only making 31 percent of his 3-point attempts, Toussaint is an elite free throw shooter at 85.4 percent. That mark ranks third in the Big 12.

7'0 Fifth Year Senior F Warren Washington

Tech is Washington's fourth school after playing at Oregon State, Nevade, and Arizona State prior to arriving in Lubbock. Washington leads the Big 12 by shooting 71.7% and 1.7 blocks in conference games. For the season, he is averaging 10.5 points per game, 7.8 rebounds per game, and has made 64.5 percent of his field goal attempts. Had a season-high 19 points against BYU and produced 14 points and 6 rebounds at TCU and has pulled down 12 or more rebounds three times this season.

6'3 Senior G Chance McMillian

McMillian spent the last three seasons at Grand Canyon, but has transitioned well to the Big 12, averaging 10.4 points per game, 3.5 rebounds per game. McMillian has shown an elite shooting ability this season, making 48.7 percent of his field goal attempts, 44.9 percent of 3-point attempts, and 89.5 percent of free throw attempts. Coming off 19 points at TCU after his career-high 27 points at Oklahoma, McMillian earned  Big 12 Newcomer of the Week honors for the second time this season. McMillian has team-best 153 career 3's and has made 11-of-17 attempts from deep over the last two games. 

6'6 Sophomore F Darrion Williams

Williams earned Mountain West Freshman of the Year last season at Nevada after averaging 7.6 points, 7.3 rebounds. This season, he is averaging 9.0 ppg, 6.9 rpg, and has scored in double figures in 8 games. Williams led Tech with 11 rebounds at Oklahoma along with five assists and has 5 double-figure rebounding games to go with four double-doubles this season, His best game was a 14 point, 10 rebound showing against Oklahoma State. Williams can score at all three levels and is currently 86 percent on free throw attempts.

6'5 Senior G Kerwin Walton

Walton began his career at North Carolina prior to transferring to Tech following the 2021-22 season. Walton has started in the last 12 games and scored a team high 18 points on six made 3-pointers against Houston. The Minnesota native is 34-for-66 (51.5%) on 3's this season and averages 7.8 points per game. Walton has been extremely efficient from the field, making 55.2 percent of his attempts. 

Final Thoughts:

Vegas likes Tech by 5.5 with an over/under set at 141.5.

This team reminds me a lot of BYU with their shooting ability and have the chance to get hot in a hurry if UC gets lost defensively on the perimeter on rotations against the pick and roll at the top of the key. TCU beat Tech by getting to the free throw line and converting 24-of-32 attempts. In both Tech losses to Houston and TCU, they had double digit turnovers. Forcing turnovers, converting second chance opportunities, and limiting silly mistakes early will be keys in picking up a Quad 1 win on the road. 

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published