Texas Tech basketball: Lady Raiders look to draw from SEC battles in matchup against Texas

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  • Krista Gerlich
    American basketball player and coach

Although the Texas Tech women's basketball team has gone 0-3 against Southeastern Conference opponents this season, Lady Raiders coach Krista Gerlich said there were stretches of good play in each game.

The experience — playing Georgia, Ole Miss and LSU — gave Tech a look at the type of athleticism and size the team will encounter in the Big 12 Conference.

Such is the case at 7 p.m. Wednesday, when the Lady Raiders face No. 9 Texas in Austin.

"We've played three SEC teams in the nonconference, and all three of them were big," Gerlich said. "They were athletic. They were very well-rounded. That's why we scheduled them: to prepare us for the Big 12. I think that we got a good taste of not only what the Big 12 teams are going to provide for us, the obstacles, but also that we were successful against them.

Texas Tech's Taylah Thomas (24) goes for a block Sunday against Oklahoma. Thomas netted a career-high 25 points against the Sooners.
Texas Tech's Taylah Thomas (24) goes for a block Sunday against Oklahoma. Thomas netted a career-high 25 points against the Sooners.

"Even though we didn't come out on top winning them, we were successful. We played well with them. So now it's a matter of us putting it all together so we can come out on the winning side."

Against No. 15 Georgia on Dec. 2, Tech held a 10-point first-half lead and was within three points late before the Bulldogs won 66-56.

The Lady Raiders (7-5 overall, 0-1 Big 12) enjoyed a similar start against Ole Miss, leading by eight in the first quarter of the Dec. 20 contest in Lake Worth, Fla.

Texas (10-1, 1-0) poses similar challenges. Gerlich complimented the Longhorns' press defense and emphasized the importance of the rebounding battle.

Texas has won seven in a row since its lone loss to No. 7 Tennessee. The Longhorns' résumé includes victories over No. 2 Stanford and No. 25 Texas A&M.

Texas Tech's Khadija Faye (23) and Taylah Thomas celebrate a bucket against Georgia on Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021, at United Supermarkets Arena in Lubbock.
Texas Tech's Khadija Faye (23) and Taylah Thomas celebrate a bucket against Georgia on Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021, at United Supermarkets Arena in Lubbock.

The Longhorns are coming off a 62-51 win over Oklahoma State on Sunday. Four players scored in double figures for Texas, led by Joanne Allen-Taylor and Audrey Warren with 14 apiece. Aliyah Matharu, the team leader at 15.6 points per game, tallied 12.

"Obviously they're playing really well," Gerlich said. "This is their second year under Coach (Vic) Schaefer. They're big. They've got a lot of big kids that play. And they play a lot of different combinations, so it's really hard to plan for their starters or for their top seven because they've had, I think, six or seven different starting lineups."

Tech, too, has been tinkering with its starting lineup because of injuries this season. The Lady Raiders' 97-91 loss to Oklahoma in the Big 12 opener Sunday was the team's first with the roster at full strength.

That provided a unique starting five that included Vivian Gray, Taylah Thomas, Tatum Veitenheimer, Chantae Embry and Bre'Amber Scott. It was the third game of the season for Scott, who made her debut Dec. 20. It was Gray's fourth and first since Dec. 12.

Oklahoma's Taylor Robertson (30) blocks the shot by Texas Tech's Vivian Gray (12) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game on Sunday, Jan. 2, 2022, in Lubbock, Texas.
Oklahoma's Taylor Robertson (30) blocks the shot by Texas Tech's Vivian Gray (12) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game on Sunday, Jan. 2, 2022, in Lubbock, Texas.

Gray averages 18 points per game after scoring 21 against the Sooners on 9 of 18 shooting. She also tied for the team high with nine rebounds. Gray said after the game she feels "comfortable" despite the limited games this season.

Ten Lady Raiders have started at least one game, with Thomas the only one to start all 12. The mixing and matching has given plenty of players opportunities, which has created depth as Tech seeks a consistent group of starters.

"It really does depend a lot about matchups," Gerlich said. "The Big 12 does have a different style in a couple of teams that we play, and we're going to have to match up with them, OU being one of them. But it would be nice to be able to get locked in to a consistent five. But what I like about this team is that they battle, and that internal competition holds each other accountable. They really push each other.

"I'm still kind of waiting for that five to rise, but at the same time I kind of like that we've got nine or 10 that can go."

Texas Tech at Texas

BIG 12 WOMEN'S BASKETBALL

When: 7 p.m. Wednesday

Where: Frank Erwin Center, Austin

Records: Texas Tech 7-5, 0-1; Texas 10-1, 1-0

Radio: FM 107.7

This article originally appeared on Lubbock Avalanche-Journal: Lady Raiders look to draw from SEC battles in matchup against Texas

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