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Red Raiders vs. Texas Southern: Three Things to Watch

Texas Tech men's basketball is preparing to host its second game of the season on Thursday.

The No. 25 Texas Tech Red Raiders (1-0) are preparing for their second straight home game when they host Texas Southern (0-1) at 7 p.m. CT Thursday at United Supermarkets Arena.

The Red Raiders are 19.5-point favorites per SI

While the Tigers lost their opener, 90-77, to San Francisco, they did have a good 2022 season in the SWAC, going 13-5 while posting an 8-10 road record. Texas Tech is coming off its season-opening win over Northwestern State, 73-49. Last year, the Red Raiders were undefeated at home.

Here are three things to watch on Thursday.

Daniel Batcho

The center had a great game against Northwestern State, scoring 12 points and grabbing 10 rebounds for his first double-double. Coach Mark Adams has been consistent in his praise of the development of Batcho’s game from a year ago. Last season he averaged 2.2 points, 2.7 rebounds, and 0.5 blocks per game. 

This is accelerated development. It’s early in the season, but the thing Adams wants to see now is whether Batcho can sustain it, not just Thursday night but through non-conference. 

With the injury to Fardaws Aimaq, the earliest he could return would be Big 12 action. Batcho has to hold down the fort inside. For Tech to be successful, especially when they get into tougher games in the Maui Invitational, his consistency is key.

The Pop Isaacs Learning Curve

Richard ‘Pop’ Isaacs is a true freshman, and even in an era when you expect more of true freshmen, that Isaacs started on Monday night is an indication of the confidence Adams has in him early on. 

In truth, he’s also a good fit for this particular starting five, even though he’s a true point guard playing alongside another true point guard in De’Vion Harmon. Watching Harmon at Oklahoma and Oregon it’s clear he can work at the two-guard position, something Isaacs may not be ready to do just yet.

But there’s always a learning curve, and Isaacs experienced that in his first start, playing 18 minutes. Adams probably loved the two 3-pointers and 50 percent shooting overall, but definitely didn’t enjoy Isaacs’ team-high five turnovers. 

It bears monitoring because turnovers can land you on the bench and the Red Raiders have more depth at the guard position than a season ago.

Watch the Defense (for both teams)

Everyone knows about Texas Tech’s famed no-middle defense. Everyone is copying it. One has to hope that Adams patented it at some point.

While the Red Raiders held the Demons to under 30 percent shooting, the turnover differential was not in Tech's favor. Texas Tech committed 20 and only forced 14. Adams will want to flip that against Texas Southern, and not just because it’s a coachable moment. Texas Southern proved in its opener that it can force turnovers and possess the ball.

Even in losing to San Francisco, the Tigers were +13 in turnover margin — committing 10 and forcing 23. On paper, the Tigers lost because they fell behind by 15 in the first half and shot just 38.8 percent to USF’s 60 percent.

TSU didn’t look like a good shooting team in its opener. But its defense sure measured up, and that makes for an intriguing matchup against a Red Raider offense that was a bit sloppy on Monday.

You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard

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