Seton Hall Pirates (5-1) vs. No. 22 Texas Tech Red Raiders (6-0)
When: 6:30 p.m. ET
Where: Madison Square Garden
TV: FS1 (Brian Custer and Donny Marshall)
All-Time Series: Texas Tech leads 1-0
After a tough loss at the hands of the Rhode Island Rams on Thanksgiving, the Seton Hall Pirates found themselves on the outside looking in of the AP Top 25 this week.
The Pirates came in at 26, receiving the most votes out of all teams to not make the rankings. However, a win tonight would boost The Hall’s chance of finding their way back in the Top 25.
Easier said than done, however. Texas Tech has a very good team this year, with a deep roster and a high-powered offense that hasn’t scored less than 75 points in any game so far. The Red Raiders are led by senior guard Keenan Evans, who leads the team in scoring at 15 PPG through the first six contests and owns a ridiculous 52.5 percent shooting clip.
The Pirates counter with point guard Khadeen Carrington, who has had some shooting woes so far this year. While he is shooting 39 percent from the field, he is just 4-20 from downtown. Carrington has been able to distribute, averaging 4.3 assists per game. But this will be yet another test for him at the point guard position, as Texas Tech has several quality guards.
Where Carrington has lacked on offense, Desi Rodriguez has picked up the slack. Rodriguez leads the team in scoring at 17.8 points per ame, and has been far more consistent this year than in years past. He put the team on his back last Friday in the win over Vanderbilt, and tonight could be a similar case.
Texas Tech has a big man to match up agains Angel Delgado: 6-foot-11 Tommy Hamilton IV, who played the first three years of his collegiate career at DePaul. Hamilton, while big, is not a big player on the boards. However, his size should be able to disrupt Delgado’s post play on offense.
Seton Hall is going to need to match Texas Tech’s bench depth if they want any chance of leaving MSG with a win. The Red Raiders are averaging 41.6 points from their bench, including 108 combined bench points in their last two games.
Three of Texas Tech’s top five scorers have not started a game this year. Jarrett Culver and Zhaire Smith are the key reserves. Culver is second on the team in scoring, putting up 11 PPG in just 18 minutes per game, while Smith is shooting 70 percent from the field. Yes, 70 percent. And it hasn’t come cheap, either (21-30 FG).
The Pirates will have to match this depth. Freshmen Myles Cale and Sandro Mamukelashvili were quiet in the NIT Season Tip-Off, scoring just five points combined over the two games. That can’t happen on Thursday night.
This will be the Pirates’ biggest test to date, but that will change on Sunday when they take on the Louisville Cardinals on the road. This week of games is perhaps the toughest the Pirates will face until they come back to MSG for the Big East Tournament.
As for tonight, expect a very close game that will be within six points for most of the night. This one is destined to be a nail-biter.