The special guest will be former Naismith and Wooden Award winner Kevin Durant, who will have his #35 jersey retired at half time of the game. Durant, who is currently averaging 26.3 points per game for the Oklahoma City Thunder, will join T.J. Ford and Slater Martin as the only men's basketball players to have their numbers retired in the 103-year history of Texas basketball.
The Red Raiders (12-15, 2-10) are coming off of a 79-73 loss in College Station in which the Aggies shot 51 free throws to 22 for Texas Tech. Head coach Pat Knight's public reaction to the discrepancy resulted in his suspension for tonight's game.
The top player for Texas tech is sophomore point guard John Roberson, who played at Plano High. The 5-10 floor general leads the Red Raiders in scoring at 14.1 points and is one of the nation's assist leaders at 6.6 per game.
Joining Roberson as a top scoring threat is sharpshooting guard Alan Voskuil. The 6-3 senior is knocking down 45.4% from three-point land and averages 14.0 points per game.
For Texas, the play of Dogus Balbay has been key in winning three of the last four games. All starts, the 6-0 sophomore has averaged 7.3 points, 3.3 rebounds, 7.0 assists and 1.3 steals the last four games.
In seven Big 12 games in which the darting point guard has played 20 minutes or more, he has averaged 6.6 points, 3.8 rebounds and 5.7 assists. The numbers include an impressive 40/11 assist to turnover ratio.
Texas doesn't enter tonight's game without questions however. Sophomore forward and third leading scorer Gary Johnson will be a game time decision after suffering a sprained ankle in the closing minutes against Oklahoma. Johnson scored 15 points and pulled down seven rebounds in the Longhorns 71-49 win on January 17 in Lubbock.
The Longhorns would miss his rebounding and scoring ability in the paint as Texas has consistently had an advantage in those two areas against the Red Raiders in recent years.
A Look at the Coach
Rick Barnes, who is in his eleventh season at Texas, coaches the Longhorns. Barnes has a career record of 467-235, including 265-101 at Texas. Barnes is 127-45 in Big 12 games at Texas.
A Look at the Numbers
Texas shoots 44.4% from the field, 32.3% from three and 66.3% from the free throw line.
The Red Raiders convert 45.5% overall, 37.5% from the three-point line and 71.4% from the foul line.
The Longhorns surrender 40.7% shooting and own a +4.9 rebound advantage.
Texas Tech surrenders 44.1% defensively and checks in with a -1.5 rebounding margin.
The Longhorns are committing 12.3 turnovers per game, while Texas Tech is turning the ball over 14.8 times per contest.
The Longhorn Starters
G Dogus Balbay 6-0 So. (2.7 points, 2.0 rebounds and 2.9 assists)
G A.J. Abrams 5-10 Sr. (17.1 points, 2.0 rebounds and 1.4 assists)
G Justin Mason 6-2 Jr. (6.6 points, 3.9 rebounds and 4.6 assists)
F Damion James 6-7 Jr. (15.3 points, 8.7 rebounds and 1.4 assists)
C Dexter Pittman 6-10 Jr. (8.7 points, 4.5 rebounds and 0.8 blocks)
Key reserves include 6-11 senior Connor Atchley (5.4 points, 3.5 rebounds and 1.6 blocks), 6-1 freshman Varez Ward (3.6 points, 2.4 rebounds and 1.8 assists), 6-10 sophomore Clint Chapman (1.3 points and 1.6 rebounds) and 6-10 sophomore Matt Hill (1.3 rebounds).
The Red Raider Starters
G John Roberson 5-10 So. (14.1 points, 3.4 rebounds and 6.6 assists)
G Nick Okorie 6-1 Jr. (10.5 points, 3.1 rebounds and 1.6 assists)
G Alan Voskuil 6-3 Sr. (14.0 points, 4.1 rebounds and 2.0 assists)
F Robert Lewandowski 6-10 Fr. (7.1 points and 4.0 rebounds)
C Esmir Rizvic 7-0 Sr. (1.1 points and 1.3 rebounds)
Key reserves are 6-5 sophomore Mike Singletary (10.6 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.8 assists), 6-6 senior Michael Prince (4.0 points and 3.1 rebounds), 6-7 sophomore D'walyn Roberts (5.7 points and 3.7 rebounds) and 6-7 freshman Corbin Ray (1.9 points and 1.5 rebounds).
What to Watch For
The Longhorns have to first bring intensity and energy to the game and can't have a letdown coming off of Saturday's huge win against a bad Texas Tech team. Tonight is key for Balbay to bring the energy early on and get the guys going.
Speaking of Balbay, he must stay out of early foul trouble in every game as Texas suffers greatly without him. Texas Tech's John Roberson has the ability to get Balbay in foul trouble and it wouldn't be a surprise to see the Red Raiders go after him early to try and get him out of the game.
Abrams has the tough task of chasing Voskuil. Abrams must make Voskuil put the ball on the floor going right. If the senior can catch and shoot working right to left, he shots over 50%. If he can catch, shot fake and take one or two hard dribbles to get into a mid-range jumper, he still shoots over 50%. Forcing him right is the key. Texas must take away his left hand and stick to him on the catch taking away clean looks.
Damion James and Dexter Pittman must dominate on the offensive glass, period. There is no excuse why Texas shouldn't pound the Red Raiders on the glass with a quickness advantage at every position and a decided strength advantage at center with Pittman.
The Texas guards have to get the ball inside to Pittman from the start. Texas should play inside out against Texas Tech. James will have the weak side offensive rebounding all to himself assuming Texas can get the ball into Pittman as Tech will have to rotate and double.
A.J. Abrams has to take smart shots. If Balbay rebounds, Abrams will get some good looks in transition as Balbay creates a transition opportunity when he rebounds and takes away the need for an outlet pass. One pass, quick shots unless totally uncontested aren't smart shots against a Texas Tech team that Texas can take advantage of on the interior and on the offensive glass.
Texas Tech guards Roberson and Voskuil are quality free throw shooters. When Michael Prince and D'wayln Roberts are in the game, they should be fouled if they go up with a shot inside of six feet. Prince shoots just 45.9%, while Roberts checks in at 58.7%.
Mike Singletary is a quality scorer and rebounder off the bench for Tech. The 6-5, strong-bodied sophomore plays the game with an excellent hoops IQ and has a knack for finding soft spots in zones or against man along the baseline. Texas has to keep a body on Singletary when a shot goes up. If he catches and faces up outside of 15 feet, contest and block out.