Big 12 Tournament Preview: No. 6 Missouri Vs. No. 11 Texas Tech – Win One For the Gipper

COLUMBIA MO - FEBRUARY 15: Head coach Pat Knight of the Texas Tech Red Raiders yelss toward players during the game against the Missouri Tigers on February 15 2011 at Mizzou Arena in Columbia Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

There are two drastically different ways teams react to hearing of a coach being fired. One is to give up on an already lost season. The other is to rally behind their fallen leader and play their hearts out.

Which of the two the Texas Tech Red Raiders will choose when they face the Missouri Tigers in the first round of the Big 12 Tournament will go a long way in determinig who wins and who loses.

With the news that the Big 12 Tournament will be the last "hurrah" for Pat Knight as coach of the Red Raiders, seniors John Roberson, Brad Reese and Mike Singletary will be instrumental in taking leadership roles, in what might be their last college games. And luckily for Tech, their seniors are proven veterans of the tournament.

Who can forget Singletary's tournament record 43-points in a win over the Texas A&M Aggies in his sophomore year, or Roberson's 18 points average in two Big 12 tournament games last year? Though those two "only" averaged a combined 26.3 ppg during the season - my preseason prediction had them closer to 40 combined points per game than 30 - the two could go off for 50 on any night. That's good news for Tech fans.

Also good news for Tech fans is Mizzou's inability to win away from Columbia. The Tigers were a dismal 1-7 on the road in conference play. Mizzou has played once before in KC, narrowly losing to Georgetown in overtime.

That Georgetown game saw the emergence of Kansas City native Marcus Denmon, who exploded for 27 points and really never looked back, earning first team All Big 12 honors from the conference.

For the Tigers to win on Wednesday they need to play better defense than they did when the two teams met up nearly a month ago at Mizzou Arena. In that game, Singletary was hampered by a calf injury and was limited to four points in nine minutes.

I soulnd like a broken record here, but for the Tigers to win they need to contain the Tech inside game. If the game can be played on the perimeter the Tigers should prevail. If Tech's Reese, Robert Lewandowski and D'walyn Roberts can get a lot of touches inside, the Red Raiders should be poised for the upset, and can keep Knight on the sidelines at least one more day.

The game tips Wednesday at approximately 8:30 p.m. and can be seen on of the Big 12 Network.

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