DALLAS — The Florida and Texas Tech basketball teams took turns praising each other Friday ahead of their NCAA Tournament second-round showdown.
The No. 6-seeded Gators (21-12) take on the No. 3 Red Raiders (25-9) on Saturday at American Airlines Center, which may have the feel of a home game for one of the teams.
Texas Tech’s fans filled the arena with a whole lot of red and a whole lot of noise for the team’s 70-60 win over Stephen F. Austin.
“We’ve got to be prepared for a hostile environment, obviously. We’re in Texas,” Florida guard Egor Koulechov said. “We saw they have a lot of crowd here. But we’re going to do our best, treat it as every other game this year, lock in on our end, try to defend at a high level, get a good scouting report in.”
As for the matchup, Florida is hoping that it found a winning formula with its strong defense and resurgent second-half offensive performance in a 77-62 win over St. Bonaventure on Thursday.
And the Red Raiders are looking to continue a breakthrough season, one that already includes the program’s most wins since the 1995-96 campaign.
“I think their team speed is as good as we’ve played all year, which helps them in transition on offense and defense. The way they change ends of the floor is top-notch. And then overall, as a I mentioned, figuring out a way to score against these guys could be our biggest test,” Florida coach Mike White said. “… They don’t have any deficiencies defensively. They’re good offensively. They’re going to be hard to guard. But man, do they lock you up. Chris has got these guys really defending and playing really, really hard.”
Said Texas Tech coach Chris Beard: “Our respect for Florida and their program and their coach couldn’t be any higher. This is one of the best offensive teams in college basketball, the 3-point shooting. They’re a really good defensive team that gets a lot of steals and turns you over. And a coach that’s one of the best coaches in college basketball. His teams play hard. They don’t beat themselves. … They have our full respect and full attention.”
What time is the Florida vs. Texas Tech game?
The game is set to tip off at 8:40 p.m. ET Saturday at American Airlines Center in Dallas.
What TV channel is showing the Florida-Texas Tech game?
The game will air on TNT with Spero Dedes on the play-by-play call, Steve Smith and Len Elmore as the analysts and Ros Gold-Onwude as the in-game reporter. The game can be streamed online here.
Texas Tech trailed by as many as 8 points early in the second half Thursday against Stephen F. Austin before rallying for a 70-60 win.
As he has most of the season, Keenan Evans led the way with 23 points while Zhaire Smith added 10 points and 8 rebounds.
Evans, a senior guard, leads the team in scoring at 17.5 points per game.
Florida, meanwhile, was tied at 21-21 in the final minutes of the first half with St. Bonaventure before asserting control.
The Gators have been an inconsistent team much of this season, but they’ve now won four of their last five games and looked confident down the stretch Thursday night.
They are led by their four veteran guards in Jalen Hudson (15.3 PPG), Koulechov (13.8 PPG), Chris Chiozza (11.1 PPG, 6.2 assists per game) and KeVaughn Allen (11.1 PPG).
Chiozza had 11 assists with no turnovers Thursday, becoming the first player since 2011 and the sixth over the last 20 NCAA Tournaments to have a turnover-free game while dishing at least 11 assists.
Here’s a collection of SEC Country’s pregame coverage so far: