For the first time this season, Arizona (4-0) will take to the road as the Wildcats will travel to Lubbock, Texas for a bout with undefeated Texas Tech.
The Red Raiders (4-0) will be trying to extend their winning streak during the eleven game home stand that lasts for the entire non-conference schedule. So far, Texas Tech has beaten Prairie View, Nebraska-Omaha, Grambling State, and Jackson State by an average of just over twenty points.
Earning four early wins has given the program a boost after the team finished last season with an 8-23 record. Head Coach Chris Walker could be the reason for the early surge, as he has yet to lose in his time as a Head Coach. He was named the interim leader of the team in the offseason after Billy Gillispie resigned in late September citing health concerns and had been an assistant for seventeen years prior to this season.
Another key reason for the Raider’s early success is the emergence of Jaye Crockett. The redshirt junior has been the best player for Texas Tech this season, but plays a sixth man role. Crockett, a 6-foot-7 forward, comes off the bench, but earns 22.8 minutes while producing a team-high 16 points per contest. He is an aggressive scorer, already visiting the free-throw line seventeen times on the year.
Leading the starters on the court is another redshirt junior. Dejan Kravic has been marvelous for the Red Raiders’ inside game, scoring 13.5 points a game and averaging six rebounds a night. In addition, Kravic already has ten blocks on the season, which could deter players from attacking when he’s in the post. He will be a good test for the Arizona forwards going deeper into the season.
The only other forward that sees major minutes for Texas Tech is starting power forward Jordan Tolbert. The 6-foot-7 sophomore is one of four Red Raiders scoring in double digits as he is getting 10.5 per game. He attacks the post aggressively and isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty on the boards, averaging the second-most on the team with 7.3.
A freshman leads the way for Texas Tech’s backcourt. Josh Gray has only played four games in Lubbock, but has adjusted nicely to the next level, dishing out 14 assists already this season. However, his age may offset that, as he has turned the ball over 13 times. Gray is also one of the team’s top scorers, putting up twelve points a game.
Trency Jackson slips into the shooting guard spot, despite scoring just 29 points in four games. He transferred to Texas Tech from Northwest Florida State, where he led the College Raiders to the NJCAA national title game. So far this season, Jackson has just been about average, but that may be just what he needs to be in order for the team to be successful.
Rounding out the starting lineup is Jamal Williams, Jr. The 6-foot-4 junior is more of a guard than forward, but fits right in the middle of the lineup. Williams is similar to Jackson in the way that he is a starter, but fills his role nicely, doing a little of everything. He grabs four rebounds a game, while scoring 7.8 points. Williams also dishes out two assists a night to just 1.5 turnovers.
After Crockett, Daylen Robinson is usually the next to come off the bench. He is averaging starter minutes, playing just over half of the game. Even though he is getting so many minutes, Robinson's stat line isn’t very impressive.
He has thirteen turnovers this season to just nine assists and is only scoring 7.5 points a game. For being 6-feet tall, he isn’t expected to grab very many rebounds, but manages almost two a game. His upside is seen in his defensive ability, as Robinson has seven steals on the young season.
Toddrick Gotcher and Dutsy Hannahs are two other guards to look for off the bench, but neither is a star for Texas Tech and both average less than five points. However, Gotcher and Hannahs have seen double digit minutes in all four games this season, which shows Walker’s trust in them on the court. Both are role players that are vital to the team playing well.
As the Wildcats hit the road for the first time, there will be numerous things to look for. Arizona is starting two freshmen and playing another two in the rotation. It should be important for the Wildcats to get the younger players involved early and get the nerves settled. With the freshmen being a big part of the system this season, having them in sync will be important if the Wildcats want to come out on top at the end of the night.