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Texas Tech wants D to catch up to O against spiraling Vanderbilt

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Texas Tech has found some answers in its past two games and is set to tangle with a team struggling to do so Saturday.

The Red Raiders will take on reeling Vanderbilt in the middle game of a tripleheader in Fort Worth, Texas.

In Texas Tech’s last test against top-level competition, Butler survived for an overtime win, but the Red Raiders (7-2) have put together back-to-back solid wins since then to re-establish momentum as the Big 12 Conference season gets closer.

The Commodores seem to be headed in a different direction, although they are healthier than they have been all season. Vandy (4-5) has dropped four of its past five outings, including a 73-60 home setback Dec. 6 against San Francisco.

The Commodores haven’t fared well vs. power conference opposition this season with losses to NC State, Arizona State and Boston College.

In the loss to San Francisco, the Commodores fell behind 10-2, trailed by as many as 18 points in the first half and never led in a tough-to-digest loss.

“We didn’t get off to the start that we needed to and didn’t come out with the kind of energy we needed to win this kind of game,” Vanderbilt coach Jerry Stackhouse said.

The Dons bombed away for 13 3-pointers in 29 attempts, slightly higher than Vandy’s SEC-worst 39.5 percent accuracy allowed this season.

Texas Tech is not strong from beyond the arc, connecting at a 32.3 percent clip as a team. But the Red Raiders have knocked down 10 or more long daggers in each of their past three games, led by Kerwin Walton, who is 11-for-16 in that span.

That has been part of an offensive uptick for the Red Raiders. They have averaged 88 points over the last three games, despite losing guard Devan Cambridge to a season-ending knee injury against Omaha.

As promising as that has been, first-year coach Grant McCasland wants to see his team’s defense find a rhythm. Including the 103 points surrendered to Butler in the OT loss, the Red Raiders have allowed an average of 79 points in the past three outings.

“We’re starting to get a flow offensively, but it’s the urgency on defense that needs to improve,” McCasland said. “It’s going to take some time for us to figure out the attention to detail you’ve got to have for an entire game.”

Joe Toussaint has been a major addition for Texas Tech after transferring from West Virginia. He leads the Red Raiders with 14.7 ppg and 35 assists, while Pop Isaacs accounts for 13.6 and 27 assists.

Vandy counters with four players averaging double digits, led by Ezra Manjon’s 16.1.

–Field Level Media

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