Arizona-Texas Tech Preview
Arizona hasn't had much trouble so far, but they have yet to play away from home or face a major conference team.
That all changes Saturday night when the No. 9 Wildcats try to carry their momentum to the road, visiting fellow unbeaten Texas Tech for the first time in almost 38 years.
Arizona (4-0) has largely dominated its first four opponents, winning by an average of 23.8 points while shooting 51.2 percent from the field and 45.6 from beyond the arc. However, those games all were in Tucson against mid-major programs - none currently with a winning record.
The slate gets much tougher in December. After playing the Red Raiders (4-0), the Wildcats host undefeated Southern Miss on Tuesday and visit ACC foe Clemson next Saturday followed by a week off before facing seventh-ranked Florida.
"We're 4-0 and we've taken care of what we need to take care of to this point," coach Sean Miller said. "Our schedule now picks up in quality of opponent and the number of games covered in a short period of time."
Arizona, 6-5 on the road last season, is visiting a Texas Tech team which is on a season-opening 11-game homestand.
"I'm excited. Coach (Miller) said that it's the most exciting feeling to get a win on the road," Wildcats guard Nick Johnson said.
Like Arizona, the Red Raiders have mostly had no trouble against lower-tier programs, outscoring opponents by an average of 20.5 points.
They haven't beaten a ranked opponent since defeating No. 12 Washington on Dec. 3, 2009. They've since lost all 23 such matchups, including 10 at home by an average margin of 18.9 points.
The Wildcats will try to keep those streaks going in their first trip to Lubbock since a victory Jan. 4, 1975. They won the most recent meeting at home Dec. 30, 1994, but Texas Tech has a 28-22 lead over its former Border Conference rival in a series which dates back to 1934.
"We're going to have a Big 12 fan atmosphere there and we're excited," Red Raiders coach Chris Walker said. "But at the end of the day it's about Texas Tech, it's not about Arizona. It doesn't matter who the next game or the next team is, the next game is always the biggest game on our schedule."
This game matches two of the nation's highest-scoring teams, with the Red Raiders averaging 88.8 points and the Wildcats 85.3.
Seniors Mark Lyons and Solomon Hill lead the way for Arizona, each averaging 14.0 points. Lyons and Hill scored 18 and 17, respectively, and both went 3 of 4 from 3-point range in a 93-50 rout of Northern Arizona on Wednesday.
"We're going to press them, we're going to get up in them and we're going to play harder and more together," Walker said.
Texas Tech's top player has been reserve Jaye Crockett, averaging team highs of 16.0 points and 9.0 rebounds. Crockett had 20 points in 23 minutes Monday in an 84-75 win over Jackson State.
Fellow forwards Dejan Kravic and Jordan Tolbert, who average a combined 24.0 points and 13.3 rebounds, provide a strong inside presence for a Texas Tech team shooting 47.6 percent from the floor despite hitting 27.7 percent on 3-pointers.
The Red Raiders are off to their best start since opening 9-0 in 2009-10.
"They play with a lot of energy," Miller said. "Last year they were one of the youngest teams in college basketball, and they've really grown. You can tell in terms of quickness and athleticism. They like to press so taking care of the ball on the road is going to be a great challenge for some of our young players."