Texas Tech has seemingly had a tough time staying focused in trips to Stillwater. Oklahoma State is dealing with distractions of its own.
The 22nd-ranked Red Raiders look to end a six-game road losing streak to the Cowboys, who will be trying to put off-court issues behind them Saturday night in the Big 12 opener for both teams.
After winning its first nine games, Texas Tech (12-2) had every reason to be confident in its ability to bounce back from last season’s 3-13 conference record. The Red Raiders, however, lost two of their next three and go into their first Big 12 game trying to win at Stillwater for the first time in seven contests.
Texas Tech lost 11 of its last 12 road games against Oklahoma State (12-2). The Red Raiders went 0-2 overall against the Cowboys last season and trail in the series 34-13.
Though the Cowboys enter this meeting with six wins in seven games, they have plenty to overcome as they try to make the NCAA tournament for the second straight season under coach Travis Ford.
Ford said he expects forward Marshall Moses back from what was announced as a one-game suspension following an arrest on a marijuana possession charge. That was only the most attention-grabbing issue Oklahoma State has been dealing with.
Reserve Teeng Akol decided to transfer during the semester break, and several players got ill after apparently eating some bad hamburgers after a 63-59 loss to Rhode Island last Saturday.
Ford said it all led to a stretch of subpar practices prior to a 79-61 win over Coppin State on Tuesday night.
“Our team has been a little bit distracted … with illnesses and off-court stuff and things like that,” Ford said. “We have got to get everybody back together and back on the same page.”
Ford desperately needs his top rebounder as Big 12 play begins. The 6-foot-7 Moses is averaging 11.2 points and 10.2 rebounds.
James Anderson is the Cowboys’ leading scorer, averaging 21.5 points while adding 5.9 rebounds and 1.4 steals. He had 24 points in Oklahoma State’s 92-82 win at Texas Tech on Feb. 18, the teams’ last meeting.
Mike Singletary had 24 points in 29 minutes off the bench in that contest to lead the Red Raiders. The junior forward is now a starter and Texas Tech’s leading scorer, posting 15.8 points per game.
Singletary was one of four Red Raiders to score in double figures in an 86-78 win over UTEP on Sunday. D’walyn Roberts, out for most of a 76-75 victory over McNeese State on Jan. 1 due to flu symptoms, had 15 points and 13 rebounds.
“He really just helps out so much,” Singletary said of having Roberts healthy. “Just by the way he plays. He rebounds and he blocks shots, and that really gets us going. We know if we get beat on defense that he can just come across and block a shot and start our fast break.”
David Tairu continues his strong play off the bench, reaching double figures in scoring each of the past six games. After starting the first six games of the season, Tairu asked coach Pat Knight to use him as a reserve.
“It’s working,” Knight said. “He came to us; he just feels more comfortable. He can watch things, kind of see how they develop. He’s a starter coming off the bench.”