1. Diaper Dandy
While we’re all used to Kentucky being the team that brings talented freshmen to the floor, Texas Tech brings one of their own to today’s match up. Freshman Jahmi’us Ramsey leads the Red Raiders in scoring on the season, averaging 15.5 points per game. Ramsey was a four-star and top-35 rated prospect coming out of high school, who stands at 6’4″ and 195 pounds. On top of the points he’s pouring in this season, Ramsey is also averaging 4.9 rebounds, 1.8 assists, and 1.5 steals.
An Arlington, Texas native, Ramsey can score from all three levels and is the best perimeter shooter on this Red Raider roster. He’s hitting 40.3% of his threes on the year, but has struggled to find consistency at the free-throw line, shooting just 66.7% from the stripe. Ramsey may be due for a breakout game, as he’s been in a bit of a recent slump, scoring 10 or less points in three of the last four games. Before that skid, he had only scored single digits one time all season.
2. Balancing Act
The key to success this season for Texas Tech has been a constant balanced attack in all facets of the game. Most teams will have one or two players who score most of the points, grab most of the rebounds, or dish out most of the assists, but Texas Tech doesn’t fit that mold. Kentucky has extremely balanced scoring, but rebounding, assists, steals, blocks, and perimeter shooting are all mostly dominated by one to two players. For the Red Raiders, outside of Ramsey’s 15.5 points per game, they have three other players averaging double figures in scoring.
In addition to scoring being balanced, most of the team stats stay even-keeled as well. Four of their five starters pull down at least 4.3 rebounds, three starters have over 2.5 assists per game, and four starters have over 1 steal per game. In the past few games, Kentucky has been able to focus on shutting one or two players, while the others weren’t going to beat the Cats. That may not be the case tonight, as any player has the capability to take the lead, with six different Red Raiders having led the team in scoring in games this season.
3. Not everything is bigger in Texas
Stop me if you’ve read this before in one of these posts, but Kentucky is going to go up against a team tonight without a major post presence. I feel like a broken record bringing this up so often, but the fact remains the same. Texas Tech’s usual starting lineup measures in at 6’3″, 6’4″, 6’4″, 6’6″, and 6’8″. In comparison to the starters for Kentucky, a pretty clear size advantage at three of the five positions should be evident for the Cats.
Even better news for the Cats, is that 6’8″ starting senior forward, TJ Holyfield, is the biggest contributing player on the roster, with no other player over 6’6″ contributing for Chris Beard’s squad. Kentucky should look to score in the lane as much as possible with no true rim protector on the roster. Texas Tech has been able to remedy this with great perimeter defense, not letting opposing teams even get to the lane on a regular basis.
4. L’s Down
Similar to Kentucky’s schedule so far this season, the most impressive win on the résumé for Texas Tech is knocking off then top ranked team in the country, the Louisville Cardinals. Louisville has just three losses on the year and two of the teams are facing off against each other today. The win over Louisville is Texas Tech’s lone quadrant one win on the season, sitting at 1-6 versus quadrant one opponents.
While not having a ton of wins in the first quadrant isn’t a great look for the Red Raiders, they also don’t have any really bad losses. In fact, Head Coach Chris Beard has the Red Raiders undefeated in all quadrant 2, 3, and 4 games. Sitting at an overall record of 12-6 on the season, Texas Tech has made a bad habit of turning one loss into a streak, as they lost three games in a row at the end of November, two games in a row at the beginning of January, and a loss to Kentucky today would be their second loss in a row for the second time in January.
5. Winless against the Cats
Tonight’s game in Lubbock will be just the fifth time in history that Kentucky and Texas Tech have faced each other, with Kentucky having won all four of the previous match ups. The Cats take on the Red Raiders for the first time since 1994, and travel to play at Texas Tech for the first time 1965. With no real history of how this match up usually plays out, Texas Tech is slated as a 4-point favorite going into tonight’s game, just the fourth time this season that Kentucky has been an underdog. The Cats are 2-1 in the previous three games as the underdog.
Texas Tech will have United Supermarkets Arena jammed packed loud and early for this huge match up. The administration at Texas Tech announced earlier this week that the game would be a black out and that they’d be hosting a pregame tailgate, giving away free beer to students who want to start the party early in the day. We’ve seen all sorts of promotions for when Kentucky comes to town, but never in my life have I heard of a school giving away free booze to encourage attendance and rowdiness. Cal always says “We’re you’re Super Bowl,” and he’s exactly right.
Go Cats. Beat Red Raiders.