January 28, 2009

Game Preview: Aggies up next for Raiders

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Texas Tech dropped a difficult road game to Missouri on Saturday. The loss moved
the Red Raiders to 11-8 on the season and 1-3 in the conference. They will now
travel to Texas A&M (15-5, 1-4 Big 12). The Aggies have struggled in conference
but have non-conference wins over Arizona, Alabama, and LSU. The tip off is
scheduled at 8:00 p.m. CST on Tuesday and will be televised on ESPNU.


Texas Tech leads the series 63-55 and has won three of the last four against the
Aggies. The last meeting was a 98-54 victory for A&M.


  • Freshman forward
    Robert Lewandowski led Tech with a career-high 16
    points to go along with six rebounds at Missouri. He has two of his four
    double-figure scoring efforts this year in conference play.

  • Senior guard Alan Voskuil is second in the Big 12 in 3-point shooting
    (.463) and was ninth nationally in the latest NCAA rankings. He has 169
    career triples and has led the team each of the last two years.

  • Sophomore guard John Roberson is one of two Red Raiders (Voskuil) to
    start every game in 2008-09. He is fifth in the Big 12 with 34.3 minutes per
    game and has logged at least 35 minutes 13 times.


  • Junior guard Donald Sloan led the Aggies with 17 points at Texas on
    5-of-7 shooting. He has scored in double digits in 13 outings this year and
    has shot 50 percent or better four times.

  • Senior guard Josh Carter has scored 1,355 career points, which ranks
    10th on the all-time A&M scoring list. He needs 27 points to tie for ninth
    on the school chart.


  • Junior forward Chinemelu Elonu has 11 double-figure scoring outputs this
    year after having two in his career prior to 2008-09. He leads the Aggies in
    field goal percentage with a .659 mark.

  • Texas A&M has won at least 15 games in each of the last five seasons.
    Prior to the current string, A&M hadn't won at least 15 games for five years
    in a row since 1985-89.


Robert Lewandowski had another solid outing on Saturday with sixteen points, six
rebounds, and two blocks. The performance was his best since his ten points in
the conference opener against Baylor. Just a freshman, the 6-foot-10 post has
struggled at times with consistency as well as turnovers. Getting another strong
performance out of Lewandowski will be critical as the Aggies feature two very
talented big men. Bryan Davis (10.2 ppg) and Chinemelu Elonu (10.3 ppg) are both
true low post talents with loads of athleticism. Both players possess solid back
to the basket moves and rebound well on the offensive end. Defensively,
D'Walyn Roberts has been pushed around by the more physical big men like Davis therefore
Lewandowski's defense will be essential in the Red Raiders slowing the Aggie

Another option for Pat Knight could be junior Darko Cohadarevic, who in limited
minutes has put in some solid work in the low post. His quality play on the
defensive end has been overshadowed by his tendency to take horrendous shots on
the offensive end. Getting some smart minutes out of Darko will go a long way to
keeping Lewandowski fresh towards the end of the ball game. Another area where
the Red Raiders could benefit is when Elonu or Davis is out of the game. The
Aggies next best post is only playing 12.7 minutes. No other Aggie post has
played regular minutes since the start of Big 12 play.


Following a disappointing road loss at Missouri on Saturday, Texas Tech will
look to rebound with a road matchup at Texas A&M. Not only are they attempting
to move to 2-3 in conference but the Red Raiders will also be looking to redeem
themselves from the disaster that occurred the last time they visited College
Station. In March 2008 Tech found themselves riding high on a two game winning
streak but that came to a screeching at the hands of the Aggies. When the final
buzzer sounded, the scoreboard read 98-54 which represented the worst loss in
school history. Unlike last season,
Pat Knight's ball club is coming off a loss
and will be looking to get back on the winning trail. Last year Knight felt the
team would struggle against the Aggies as they hadn't handled success to well
this season. This year he will get a chance to see if his team can overcome
adversity as they enter Tuesday night having lost four out of five.

In Tuesday's matchup both teams will be featuring a handful of new faces in
their rotations. Mike Singletary, arguably Tech's best performer recently, only
played three minutes in the last meeting. Another major contributor, point guard
John Roberson, played just eleven minutes but did score eight points in the
rout. Newcomer to the rivalry Nick Okorie will be playing his first game in the
series. Two posts players that have earned lots of minutes lately,
Michael Prince and D'walyn Roberts also only combined for 27 minutes. Each player should
get twenty plus minutes this go around as Tech looks to make it four wins out of
the last five against the Aggies.


Texas A&M is very similar to the Texas Longhorns in that they play a slow down
tempo that focuses on defense yet struggles at time offensively. Their overall
defense is ranked 4th in the league at 63.6 points per game while the offense is
ninth in the league at 69.3 points per game. The lack of scoring is due in large
part to an abysmal field goal percentage, 43.3% on the season. An interesting
defensive statistic is that despite limiting teams to 63.6 ppg, A&M is allowing
teams to shoot 42% which is near the bottom of the conference rankings. Their
three point defense has been even worse as they are the Big 12's worst allowing
opponents to shoot 36% from behind the arc. Their low points per game may be a
bit of a mirage simply due to the fact that they like to play a half court game.

An area in which the Red Raiders have dominated lately is the rebounding battle.
They have outrebounded the opponent in every conference game. Texas A&M on the
other hand is ninth in the Big 12 in rebounding and has been outrebounded by a
total of 45 boards during conference. Their closest rebounding deficit was minus
six against Kansas in a twenty point loss. If the Red Raiders can keep up their
strong rebounding as well as register some put backs on the offensive glass,
they will put themselves in a good position to steal a road win.

Let's take a look at the personnel for the Aggies. The starters will get the
bulk of the minutes unlike the Red Raiders where Singletary and Okorie play
significant minutes off the bench.
B.J. Holmes will get important time at the
backup point guard but other than that not many Aggies will see major minutes
off the bench.

Donald Sloan is the starting point guard. He is a very explosive guard that has
some issues with consistency. In two losses during conference play, Sloan has
pulled a disappearing act by only scoring eight points against Oklahoma and six
against Kansas. He went 4-14 in the two game stretch before putting in a 5-7
night with 17 points against the Longhorns. Sloan is not necessarily the best
passer (3.7 apg) or the best shooter (37% FG) but he is a physical guard that
gets to the foul line nearly 5 times per game. His ability to get into the lane
and to the foul line will be something the Red Raiders must limit.

The other guard Sloan's high school teammate Derrick Roland. Roland is a freak
athletically but that hasn't translated into success on the offensive end of the
floor. He is only averaging 5.4 ppg despite playing 24.8 minutes per game. His
two turnovers a game are also a problem as he is only averaging 1.7 assists per
game. Unlike his backcourt partner Sloan, Roland has only gotten to the like 24
times in 18 games. Roland's greatest contribution will come on the defensive end
where he is active, long and disruptive. He will most likely draw Alan Voskuil
or Nick Okorie since defensive ace
Josh Carter will more than likely try to
limit Mike Singletary.

Josh Carter is the small forward for the Aggies. He is their best player as well
as the senior leader. However, Carter is really struggling to get on track in
conference play. He has played two solid scoring games with 15 and 17 points but
followed those with 7 and 9 point outings. His worst showing came in the
conference opener when he 0 for 7 with zero points and just one rebound. Carter
has struggled against Texas Tech averaging less than 10 points a game. Two
seasons ago, he was held scoreless in thirty minutes at home. In Lubbock that
same year, he was held to just 5 points in 33 minutes.

While the Aggies have looked to him for more scoring this season, Carter will
mostly be relied on to play solid defense against the Red Raiders best scorer.
His length can become very pessimistic as he never quits on the defensive end.
When he does score, Carter usually gets his buckets from behind the arc where he
is shooting 38%.

Bryan Davis is 240 lb. physical power forward for Texas A&M that will more than
likely get the assignment of covering Robert Lewandowski on the defensive end.
He is a bruiser down low but is limited in what he can do athletically. At
6-foot-9, he is a legitimate low post player that likes to get the ball deep in
the post and use his power to get to the bucket. He is also the Aggiest second
leading rebounder at 6 boards per game. Davis does have the tendency to get in
foul trouble and has fouled out of three games this year. If he gets called for
a couple of quick ones, it will benefit Tech as the Aggies will be forced to go
to a smaller lineup which Pat Knight can use his variety of undersized forwards

Chinemelu Elonu's performance on Tuesday night may very well be the determining
factor in the ball game. He is an extremely athletic post that has the ability
to completely take over a game like he did against Baylor when he had 17 points
and 16 rebounds. Since then however he has struggled. He scored seven points in
back to back nights while only averaging 5 rebounds in his last three games. His
athletic ability will make it a tough matchup for any Red Raider and attention
will need to be paid to him any time a shot goes up. Against Baylor, Elonu had
11 offensive rebounds. Once again, Tech will try to get Elonu in foul trouble
early as the Aggies are extremely limited in the low post options.

B.J. Holmes will be the third guard, giving Sloan a rest as the main ball
handler. His game is similar to John Roberson as they are both small quick
guards that look to score quite often. His play is essential as much like in the
post, the Aggies only have two other guard that contribute, neither of which
score much. Nathan Walkup and
Dash Harris combine to play 25.8 minutes per game
but only score 4.7 ppg between the two of them.


1. Play at a fast pace. The Aggies depth as well as their inability to
shoot the ball well severely hinders their ability to get up and down the floor
in a fast paced ball game. With only a few scorers, Texas A&M shouldn't be able
to keep up offensively if Tech can get out, run, and finish on the fast break.

2. Singletary has to have a huge game. A key to beating the Fightin'
Farmers is getting them in foul trouble. No Red Raider is quite as effective at
drawing fouls as Singletary. If he can be his usual aggressive self, as well as
draw a few cheap ones on the Aggies big men, Tech should be able to take
advantage of their short bench.

3. Play Hard! Despite struggling early against Missouri, Tech kept
battling to stay in the game. If they give the same kind of effort against A&M,
they will leave College Station victorious due to their solid rebounding and
attacking offense.


The starters

Forward - Bryan Davis 6-9 Senior

Forward - Chinemelu Elonu 6-10 Junior

Guard - Donald Sloan 6-3 Junior

Guard - Josh Carter 6-7 Senior

Guard - Derrick Roland 6-4 - Junior

The reserves

Guard - Nathan Walkup - 6-7 Sophomore

Guard - Dash Harris - 6-1 Freshman

Guard - B.J. Holmes - 6-0 Sophomore

Forward - David Loubeau - 6-19 Freshman

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