Texas Tech interim head coach Shimmy Gray-Miller was her usual upbeat self during the press period ahead of Saturday’s 6 p.m. tip with Iowa State even as external expectations have dropped with a five-game losing streak to open Big 12 Conference play.
The looming schedule is daunting and guard McKenzie Calvert left the team some time between the most recent loss and Friday afternoon, but there’s a break in the clouds before visiting a Kansas team the Lady Raiders already lost to at home and then four consecutive games against teams in the top half of the league standings.
Iowa State is in town.
“We have to play hard,” Gray-Miller said. “First four minutes, exactly like how we played Oklahoma, but we’ve got to sustain that. We’ve got to play hard and not dig ourselves into a hole.”
Players were not available for comment.
The Cyclones are ranked ninth in the Big 12 and remained just one game ahead of Texas Tech in the standings with a loss to Kansas State about an hour after the Lady Raiders finished their game with Oklahoma. Iowa State could find itself in a standings tie by night’s end.
This game could have an impact on seeding for the conference tournament, determining which team gets that much of an easier draw.
And with both teams currently below .500, winning the conference tournament is about the only hope left of reaching the postseason aside from bucking all trends and winning out through February.
Iowa State is a balanced team.
The Cyclones shoot 39.2 percent while allowing 39 percent shooting. ISU is 13 boards better than its opposition winning offensive rebounds and 26 boards better going for defensive rebounds.
Through all the adversity, Texas Tech shoots 43.5 percent, is 89 defensive rebounds better than its combined competition and a smidgen stronger winning offensive boards. Even isolated to Big 12 play, the Lady Raiders perform better in those categories.
Junior guard Bridget Carleton leads the Cyclones with 18.4 points per game. The next three scorers average between nine and eight points.
“She does a little bit of everything for them,” Gray-Miller said. “But I also think that we’re going to pose some matchup issues for them when we go big.”
Starting forward Jada Terry recorded a double-double in Texas Tech’s last game. Fellow forward Brielle Blaire was second in team scoring with eight points.
Erin Degrate, who averages eight points per contest, is a third weapon the Lady Raiders can throw at the Cyclones.
“I told her I’ve been doing her a terrible disservice,” Gray-Miller said of Degrate. “We pushed her, and I think you saw a great deal of improvement with her. Her minutes, her conditioning, her scoring, her output. Then I kind of let off the gas, and when I let off the gas she let off the gas. I’ve seen a little dip. We pointed that out and got back at it.”
— Mike Graham, A-J Media
TEXAS TECH WOMEN’S BASKETBALL
Who: Texas Tech women’s basketball vs. Iowa State
When: 6 p.m. Saturday
Where: United Supermarkets Arena
Records: Texas Tech 6-10 overall, 0-5 Big 12; Iowa State 7-9 overall, 1-4 Big 12
Last game: Oklahoma 73, Texas Tech 52
Last meeting: Iowa State 79, Texas Tech 68
Notables: No reason was given for McKenzie Calvert’s decision to leave the team. … Second-leading scorer Reecé Caldwell is day-to-day with an undisclosed injury. … Texas Tech has not lost to Iowa State at home the past three seasons. … The Lady Raiders are 10-4 in Lubbock against Iowa State all time.