No. 11 Texas Tech ready to host UT-Rio Grande Valley

LUBBOCK, Texas -- The last time Texas Tech stepped on the court for a game, the Red Raiders gave national powerhouse Duke a good fight at Madison Square Garden in a nonconference tilt that had the nation's attention.

Now the Red Raiders will shift gears and host Texas-Rio Grande Valley on Friday in their final nonconference game before the start of Big 12 play next week.

Although it's a dramatically different setting, No. 11 Texas Tech (10-1) won't change its approach too much.

"We just get right back to the process," Texas Tech coach Chris Beard said. "It started on Christmas night when guys got back in the weight room."

The Red Raiders' tenacity on defense got the attention of Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, who complimented Texas Tech's approach on that end of the floor both publicly to the media and privately to Beard.

"He did have some really kind words for me after the game as well as the day before," Beard said. "If anything, it kind of validates what we do and who we are."

UT-Rio Grande Valley (8-6) enters the game with a defensive mindset similar to the Red Raiders.

The Vaqueros have held opponents to 65 or fewer points in five of their eight victories. Most recently, UT-Rio Grande Valley defeated McNeese State, 68-64, to stop a two-game skid and improve to 6-3 on its home court in Edinburg, Texas.

Vaqueros coach Lew Hill said his team lost sight of itself in falling to Texas State and Rice in mid-December.

"We just had to get back to doing what we do, which is defending," Hill said. "That's what we did against McNeese. The two previously we lost, we thought we were an offensive team. Sometimes kids get sidetracked and tricked a little bit. But we got back to defense making the game ugly and attacking the paint."

UT-Rio Grande Valley's top priority will be trying to slow down Texas Tech guard Jarrett Culver, who leads the Red Raiders with 19.6 points per game. Culver scored 25 points against Duke and 30 versus Abilene Christian in Texas Tech's last victory on Dec. 15. Culver has scored 20 or more six times this season.

Texas Tech had a season-high 24 turnovers against Duke, so the Vaqueros might see a weakness they can exploit there.

"Obviously some of the issues we had in the Duke game we better clean up pretty quick because this team has the same type of aggressiveness on defense," Beard said.

The Red Raiders are looking for offensive consistency from other players to take some of the pressure off of Culver. Guard Matt Mooney is the only other Texas Tech player averaging in double digits at 10.6.

But the stats aren't fooling Hill and the Vaqueros.

"You start with Culver and (Texas Tech) is going to lean on him, but they have other players who can score the ball as well," Hill said.

UT-Rio Grande Valley will be facing its third Power-5 opponent of the season. Oklahoma defeated the Vaqueros by 15 in Edinburg and UT-Rio Grande Valley lost to Georgia Tech by 28 in Atlanta.

Texas Tech, which took its first loss of the season against Duke, 69-58, won its first 10 games, all by 11 points or more.

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