Texas Tech Opens Basketball Season Against South Alabama

The Texas Tech men's basketball team takes on South Alabama for its 2017-18 season opener as part of the regional round of the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame Tipoff Tournament on Friday at the United Supermarkets Arena.

Tipoff is on-tap for 8 p.m. CT, and the game will be nationally televised by FOX College Sports along with the FOX Sports Go App. Chuck Heinz, Craig Wells and Adam Doyle will serve as the announcing team.

The Red Raiders have won 17 straight season opener since 1999-2000 and have won 14 of the 17 contests by double figures by an average of 22.2 points per game. The three games decided by single digits were against High Point in 2015-16, Troy in 2010-11 and UNC Wilmington in 2001-02.

Texas Tech has had seven of its leading scorers on opening night going back to the 1999-2000 amass 20 or more points, most recently a 28-point outburst by Keenan Evans last season and a 26-point scoring performance courtesy of Devaugntah Williams in 2015-16.

Texas Tech and South Alabama have split their previous two meetings which was a home-and-home series during the 1976-77 and the 1977-78 seasons. Beard has won his only previous two meetings with the Jaguars which came when he led Little Rock to the Sun Belt Championship in 2015-16.

The Red Raiders have pieced together a 29-game nonconference home winning streak fueled by an undefeated mark during each of the three seasons. Tech has won 14 of the last 15 contests during the streak by double figures.

"South Alabama has got really good players," head coach Chris Beard said. "They've got returners, experienced players and they've got some great perimeter players. The three-point shot is a concern of ours and containing their penetration is a concern of ours. They've also got a great frontline this year with some real size which includes a 6-10, 300-pound transfer from Pittsburgh. We have all sorts of concerns defensively."

The Red Raiders picked up an 88-69 win over Angelo State followed by an 84-54 victory versus New Mexico State during the exhibition season.

Texas Tech is the only school to have three ranked among the Top 10 on the Big 12's active scoring list. Keenan Evans and Zach Smith are third and fifth with 938 and 890 career points, respectively. Evans has pieced together 20 straight games with 10-plus points, the longest streak for a Red Raider since Martin Zeno reached 21 consecutive outings in 2006-07.

Justin Gray and Niem Stevenson averaged 8.9 and 8.6 points per game last season. Gray was an efficient 107-of-185 on his two-point attempts whereas Stevenson improved his scoring average to 12.3 points per game over his last 13 games.

Tommy Hamilton IV and Brandone Francis practiced with the Red Raiders as sitout transfers a season ago. Hamilton IV played in 92 games and amassed 805 career points during his first three seasons at DePaul, while Francis is a former Top 35 prospect who appeared in 29 games at Florida in 2015-16.

Texas Tech's talented newcomer class is sparked by a quartet of freshmen in Jarrett Culver, Davide Moretti, Malik Ondigo and Zhaire Smith coupled with junior college standouts Hyron Edwards and Josh Webster. The duo of Culver and Smith combined for 39 points in the two exhibition games.

Up Next
Texas Tech will wrap up regional round action of the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame Tipoff Tournament versus Maine. Tuesday's tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. CT televised by FOX College Sports.