Texas Tech Red Raiders vs. Brigham Young Cougars Pick & Prediction JANUARY 20th 2024

Life in the Big 12 Conference doesn’t allow much time for licking your wounds, something No. 25 Texas Tech will have to work through with another tough test up next.

After seeing their nine-game winning streak snapped at No. 5 Houston on Wednesday, the Red Raiders (14-3, 3-1 Big 12) host No. 20 BYU (14-3, 2-2) in Lubbock on Saturday as the conference gauntlet continues.

The Cougars arrive after their second straight win on Tuesday, blazing past No. 24 Iowa State 87-72 despite being short-handed.

Texas Tech fell for the first time in league play because of shooting struggles against the Cougars’ suffocating defense and a rash of turnovers that was contrary to how well the Red Raiders had handled the ball in their first three conference outings.

Despite knocking down 11 3-pointers, Texas Tech shot just 36.7 percent overall and coughed the ball up 14 times after finishing with single-digit turnover totals in the three previous outings. Kerwin Walton was a bright spot with 18 points on 6-of-9 shooting from 3-point range, but the Red Raiders rarely got second chances on offense and lost the battle on the glass 38-28.

Houston also finished its 77-54 win with a commanding 40-8 advantage in points in the paint.

“There wasn’t any question on who the tougher team was,” Texas Tech coach Grant McCasland said. “We knew coming into the game that we would have to play our best basketball to put ourselves in position to win the game. I thought rebounding would play a big part and I thought we showed some effort there, but their points in the paint and us turning the ball over was the difference in the game.”

Spencer Johnson and defense were the major differences against Iowa State for BYU, which had dropped its first two Big 12 games.

Playing without starting guard Trevin Kell and reserve big man Fousseyni Traore, the Cougars played only seven players until garbage time. Johnson churned out a career-high 28 points and point guard Dallin Hall came up huge with 11 points and eight assists in the win.

On the way to hanging up the most points that Iowa State has surrendered this season, BYU also cashed in at the free-throw line (20 of 24). The Cougars also turned the ball over only 11 times against a Cyclone defense that entered the night forcing 19 takeaways a game.

“I’m just proud of these guys’ togetherness and I’m proud of their fight and I’m proud of their belief,” BYU coach Mark Pope said. “If I could encapsulate one thing, it was our guys’ poise and their confidence and their refusal to not second-guess their decisions in real time.”

The challenge will be much different for both teams in their first matchup as league foes and first meeting in Lubbock since 1995.

BYU enters as the most prolific offensive team in the Big 12, averaging 85.7 points a game. Five Cougars average double digits in scoring, led by sixth man Jaxson Robinson with 14.3 points a game. If Knell is healthy and good to go from a foot injury, he is a major 3-point shooting threat with 47 in 100 attempts, while Robinson is shooting 38.9 percent from deep (42 of 108).

Texas Tech counters with a defense that was stingy during the nine-game winning streak and allows 65.5 points a contest on the season.

–Field Level Media

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