Former UTEP, A&M and Kentucky head coach Billy Gillispie, who took over at Texas Tech this past offseason, leads his Red Raiders into Fort Worth tonight to take on Jim Christian's Horned Frogs in what the TCU Athletic Marketing Department is billing as a "Big 12 Preview" since the two schools will again be conference rivals starting next season.
The 6-2 Frogs, you might be surprised, currently have an RPI ranking of #18. Even more suprising may be the fact that they've gotten off to this fast start while playing the 14th-toughest schedule in the country. Five of those six wins have been decided by less than five points, illustrating an ability to win close game that Coach Christian and the players attribute to vastly improved team chemistry.
Their opponents tonight, the 4-3 Red Raiders, have won just once away from Lubbock this year- a 61-54 win at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi this past Thursday. But they are pretty adept at perhaps the most important skill in basketball: putting the ball in the hoop. Coming into tonight, they are tied for 25th in the country in field goal percentage at 48.7% and rank 36th in the nation in three-point shooting at 40.5%. Their two main scoring threats are Canadian junior guard Ty Nurse, who averages 12.3 points a contest, and Fort Worth's own true freshman forward Jordan Tolbert (out of All Saints HS) with 11.0.
Good news for those of you who don't have access to the mtn- tonight's game will be on real TV, with the 6:00pm tip off on CBS Sports Network. But senior point guard Hank Thorns doesn't want people sitting at home watching TV, as he told the Star-Telegram this morning:
"We have a great arena and the more packed it gets...the louder it gets. The bandwagon is always open for people who want to jump on. We're playing pretty good basketball."
The atmosphere at Daniel-Meyer Coliseum has been pretty dead the past couple of years, and it's not going to turn into Cameron Indoor Stadium overnight. But with Tech in town, tonight is a good night to start that turn-around process. I'm challenging the students to lead the charge.