No. 21 Texas Tech will find out off the bat if its non-conference performances has it ready for Big 12 Conference play. The Red Raiders host No. 17 Baylor - a program second-year coach Chris Beard would like to emulate - on Friday.
“We’re getting better,” Beard said after last week’s 74-47 win against Abilene Christian. “Whether it’s enough to compete in this league is yet to be determined, but we are excited about the challenge. (Baylor is) the kind of program we’re trying to build here in a lot of ways. Why not start with one of the best teams in country on opening night?” The Red Raiders have won five straight, allowing more than 54 points once in that streak. The Bears have also won five in a row, outscoring those opponents by an average of 26.8 points. Baylor committed 39 turnovers in its past two games, which will not be a recipe for success against a Big 12 slate that starts with the Bears’ three in-state rivals.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, Fox College Sports
ABOUT BAYLOR (10-2): Senior guard Manu Lecomte leads the Bears with 18.4 points and has hit 13-of-22 from 3-point range in the past two games. Senior forward Jo Lual-Acuil Jr. adds 15.1 points and a team-high 10 rebounds per game, while senior forward Nuni Omot (11.8 points) and junior guard King McClure (11.7 points) also average double figures. Junior Jake Lindsey averages a team-best 3.8 assists off the bench for the Bears, who are minus-two in turnover margin - tied for 291st in Division I.
ABOUT TEXAS TECH (11-1): Senior guard Keenan Evans, who came off the bench in the Red Raiders’ last game, leads a balanced attack with 16.5 points and 3.8 assists. Zhaire Smith (10.3 points off the bench) has scored in double figures in seven straight games, while fellow freshman guard Jarrett Culver adds 10.2 points. The Red Raiders are ranked second nationally in scoring defense (58.7 points allowed) and are second in the Big 12 - and 12th nationally - with 18.5 turnovers forced.
1. Senior F Zach Smith (7.5 points, 4.3 rebounds) needs 20 points to become the 41st Texas Tech player to reach 1,000 career points.
2. Lual-Acuil (1.8) and freshman F Tristan Clark (1.4) combine for 3.2 blocks.
3. Texas Tech is 36-of-73 from the free-throw line during its past three games.
PREDICTION: Texas Tech 72, Baylor 66