Oklahoma Sooners vs. Texas Tech Red Raiders Pick & Prediction JANUARY 27th 2024

There were not exactly high expectations for either Oklahoma or Texas Tech entering this season after both finished 5-13 in the Big 12 in 2022-23.

The Sooners were picked by the coaches to finish 12th in the league, while the Red Raiders were selected eighth.

How things have changed heading into Saturday’s meeting between the teams at Norman, Okla., as Oklahoma is ranked 11th in the nation and Texas Tech is 20th.

Texas Tech enters the game following an 85-78 win at home against then-No. 20 BYU last Saturday. The Red Raiders (15-3, 4-1 Big 12) have won 10 of their last 11 games.

Both Texas Tech head coach Grant McCasland, and Oklahoma counterpart Porter Moser, talk often about toughness and physicality being at a premium in the Big 12.

“If you want to be the toughest team, and you really believe that, then it’s 40 minutes,” McCasland said. “It doesn’t ever stop. It doesn’t matter what the score is. … I don’t really care what the score is. There’s a way to play this game and if you don’t play it with that grit, it doesn’t matter. The score is not always going to be in your favor.”

The Red Raiders have been led by sophomore guard Pop Isaacs, who is averaging 16.9 points. Since conference play began, he’s been even better, averaging 19.8 points. Isaacs is coming off a career-high 32-point performance in last weekend’s win over BYU.

Isaacs has continued to play since being named in a reported civil lawsuit accusing him of “sexual abuse towards a minor” during the team’s trip to the Bahamas early in the season. The lawsuit became public Jan. 5.

“My teammates have been there for me,” Isaacs said after the BYU game. “They’ve had my back. I’ve been having fun playing the game of basketball, playing the game I love. Honestly, everything’s been pretty good.”

The Sooners (15-4, 3-3) are coming off a disappointing 75-60 home loss to Texas on Tuesday where they shot a season-low 39.3 percent from the floor.

“This can’t define us,” Moser said. “We’ve gotta grow from struggle. We’re gonna struggle. Grow from it. But you’ve gotta get back and go get on one-game win streaks after this, and that’s the next one. … We’ve gotta get rested and ready for another physical, defensive game.”

McCasland said he expected the Sooners’ loss to give Moser’s team a bit of an edge entering Saturday’s game.

“He always has them prepared,” McCasland said. “I mean, defensively, offensively, they’re going to have a great plan. And obviously they’ve gotten more aggressive in the way they played, I think, the game on both ends.”

Oklahoma is led by Javian McCollum, who is averaging 14.6 points per game.

Saturday’s matchup is the lone game scheduled between the teams this season. They split two games last season, with each team winning on the road.

While the game will be the first meeting between the pair at their current schools, Moser and McCasland have squared off before. In the 2020-21 season, Moser’s Loyola-Chicago squad beat McCasland’s North Texas 57-49.

–Field Level Media

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