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Longhorns, Red Raiders set for defensive clash Wednesday at Erwin Center

Texas Tech guard Kevin McCullar (15) blocks a shot by Iowa State forward Javan Johnson (13) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Jan. 9, 2021, in Ames, Iowa. Texas Tech won 91-64. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

No. 4 Texas vs. No. 15 Texas Tech

When: 8 p.m. Wednesday

Where: Erwin Center (No fans permitted due to COVID-19 restrictions)

TV/radio: ESPN2/104.9 The Horn

About the series: Texas leads the all-time series 87-61. Last season, the Horns snapped a five-game losing streak in the series with a 68-58 win in Lubbock. It was arguably the most impressive win of the season.

About the Longhorns: Sure, it’s good to see Texas with a perfect 4-0 start in league play, its first perfect start since 2011. But Smart is still demanding accountably. He said the Horns needed to be better with on-ball defense these last two games, and their amount of defensive deflections has slipped. “I told the guys at some point last week that good is the enemy of great,” Smart said. “We’re pretty good at those things, but not great. If we want to be what we all say we want to be, we’ve got to keep improving.” This game matches two of the top three defensive teams in the Big 12. Tech is allowing opposing teams to score a league-low 58 points per game; Texas is third allowing just 63.7. School officials are not allowing any fans for UT’s two home games this week due to COVID-19 restrictions. No decisions beyond this week have been made, though. 

About the Red Raiders: Smart is growing out his hair. Beard has grown a full beard. He’s also an eagle-eyed observer of Hub City style. “I like the haircut, Carlos. Solid.” Beard told a reporter on Tech’s Zoom call. “You look younger.” The Red Raiders skew a tad younger themselves this season with some dynamic future prospects. McCullar missed games early with a preseason ankle injury but had 15 points at Iowa State over the weekend. In four games, he’s shooting 41.2 percent. Beard loves UT’s athleticism in players like Brown and Kai Jones, and he raved about Coleman, Ramey and Jones. “You’ve got first-round draft choices that are long and athletic, but to me, those three guards are Texas basketball,” Beard said. Tech has already recorded road wins at Oklahoma and Iowa State. The Red Raiders are looking to win three straight Big 12 road games for the first time since the 1996-97 season. 

Contact Brian Davis at 512-445-3957. Email bdavis@statesman.com or @BDavisAAS.