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Win or Go Home: Ole Miss-Texas Tech NIT Quarters

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Grab some tortillas,  a bucket of your favorite black make-up and your Graham Harrell, Sonny Cumbie or Kyle Kingsbury FATHEAD....we're playing Texas Tech.

The Red Raiders drove Bobby Knight away from basketball and into a life of being a talking head on ESPN. That's how bad it is to coach in Lubbock. His son, Pat, has taken over coaching duties, leading the team to a pedestrian 19-15 record this season.

There is much to be feared, however, when facing this Texas Tech team.

One stretch of Big XII play crushed Texas Tech's postseason hopes. From Feb. 13 to March 6, the Red Raiders lost seven conference games in a row to Texas A&M, Baylor, Texas, Kansas State, Nebraska, Baylor again and Colorado.

Entering that stretch, Texas Tech was 17-7, and postseason hopes were still alive, albeit the future did not look incredibly bright. Ole Miss fans will want to point out how we beat Kansas State and Texas Tech lost to them, but we need to be honest with ourselves. 

Kansas State played much better as the season progressed, and while we did beat them, it was early in the season. Yes, it still counts, but for example, if you beat Tennessee early in the year(or even pushed them to overtime), you probably did not play them closely later in the season.

The Big XII was probably the toughest conference in college basketball this season. Seven teams made the tournament with three of them advancing to the Sweet 16. Texas Tech doesn't seem to have the defensive chops to hang with the better of its conference,  however.

The Red Raiders give up more than 75 points per game while scoring 76 per game. On the flip side, the Rebels score more than 78 points per game and give up only 70. 

Texas Tech has a three headed monster Ole Miss will have to handle to be successful tonight. John Roberson, Mike Singletary and Nick Okorie all average over 10 points per game, and Singletary and Roberson almost always lead the team in scoring each game. 

Singletary will be a rebounding threat the Rebels must keep a body on the entire game. The 6'6'' forward from aptly named Humble, Texas seems to be their Murphy Holloway. A player with a non-stop motor who works hard for his stats and to "get mines."

Roberson is a 5'11'' guard weighing in at a mighty 165 lbs. He can distribute the ball well, but also he can pull up from just about anywhere on the court. The best solution here would seem to be putting a taller defender like Eniel Polynice or Terrico White on him to take away his perimeter game.

The Rebels last game against Memphis was their finest of the season. Alley-oops were successful, threes were dropping and every player looked like they wanted to block every single shot Memphis put up in the paint. If the Rebels give the same defensive effort, Texas Tech will lose by double digits.

However, the Rebels have had some stretches of sloppy, turnover laden play. If this occurs, not even a 30-point game from Terrico White can save our chances. 

Ole Miss needs to play smart basketball, play the mismatches on defense and rely on the athletic, up-tempo style we saw against Memphis. White seems to be playing for an NBA career right now, leading Ole Miss in scoring in both NIT games, but it is my hope he is just taking ownership of a leader's position on this team.

After the win tonight, blast that Jay-Z "Empire State of Mind" boy.

Final prediction

Ole Miss 83

Texas Tech 75