The Big 12/SEC Challenge is finally here and the matchups promise to be thrilling. One of them will be South Carolina vs. Texas Tech. The Gamecocks are coming off a big 77-72 victory over the Florida Gators in Gainesville. The Red Raiders, meanwhile, are coming off a 75-70 win over the Oklahoma State Cowboys.
— Texas Tech Basketball (@TexasTechMBB) January 25, 2018
The Gamecocks shocked the world last year by storming all the way to the Final Four. Led by SEC Player of the Year Sindarius Thornwell, the Gamecocks used their relentless defense to frustrate teams such as Duke and Florida before losing to Gonzaga in the semifinal. South Carolina has taken a step back this season, but its victory over Florida is a big resume booster.
The Red Raiders missed the playoffs last year but look like a lock to get in this year with a 16-4 record. Here is how both teams match up with each other.
Neither team sticks out offensively. The Red Raiders are averaging 77 points per game and are 60th in Kenpom offensive efficiency (111.5). The team’s leading scorer is Keenan Evans who averages 17 points per game on 48 percent shooting. Meanwhile, the Gamecocks are only averaging 71 points per game and are 147th in Kenpom offensive efficiency (105.4). Chris Silva leads the way with 15 points per game on 49 percent shooting.
Texas Tech is one of the best defensive teams in the country. Nationally, the Red Raiders rank seventh in points allowed (62 PPG), 17th in field goal percentage allowed (.393 FG%) and fourth in Kenpom defensive efficiency (89.1). The Gamecocks are not too shabby on defense themselves. Nationally, they rank 38th in points allowed (66 PPG), 95th in field goal percentage (.420) and 25th in Kenpom defensive efficiency (94.3)
Big 12/SEC Challenge last year
Texas Tech defeated LSU last year 77-64. Forward Zach Smith led the way with 25 points on 80 percent shooting. South Carolina did not participate in the Challenge last year.
The game will start Saturday at noon and will be featured on ESPN 2.