Wichita State Shockers

Big test awaiting Shockers

Road games don't scare Texas Tech coach Pat Knight. More than most prominent programs, the Red Raiders embrace the chance to test themselves away from the comforts of Lubbock.

Knight will prove that again Saturday when he brings No. 16 Texas Tech to Koch Arena. It is his team's third game on an enemy court. That's more than nine of the other 11 Big 12 schools. Saturday's game presents a greater challenge than Tech's games at Stephen F. Austin (3,752 fans) or at TCU, where many of the 5,825 fans rooted for the Red Raiders.

"It's not going to be that way in Wichita," Knight said. "Playing in that atmosphere is going to be tough, but we have to."

TCU coach Jim Christian agrees. He is the world's foremost authority on the matchup after losing to Tech (80-70) a week ago and WSU (80-68) on Saturday. Koch Arena, wearing its first sell-out of the season, made an impression in Christian's first visit.

"It's a tremendous, tremendous environment," he said. "It rattled us early. That's a huge advantage."

Knight uses these games to prepare his teams for the Big 12 arenas, and to save a few bucks on guarantee games. He can showcase his team around Texas by playing at Stephen F. Austin or Lamar, as he did last season. The Raiders play at New Mexico, another of college basketball's loudest arenas, on Dec. 29.

TCU led Tech by 14 late in the first half. The Frogs never led at WSU, although they cut the margin to two points midway through the second half. Both teams shot 50 percent or better against TCU and won the rebounding battle significantly.

"Two very similar teams," Christian said. "Very physical teams. Very athletic."

Tech's visit is a rare convergence of a nationally ranked non-conference opponent visiting Wichita when a Shocker team is playing well. No. 21 Mississippi is the last ranked non-conference team to play at WSU, during the 1997-98 season. Since 2005-06, WSU has played six ranked non-conference opponents, all on the road or at neutral sites.

Texas Tech defeated WSU 72-69 last season in Lubbock. The Shockers tied the game in the final minute after trailing by 17 at halftime.

"It's been in the back of our heads since last year, because we felt we could have won that game," WSU junior J.T. Durley said. "We took a lot of games this year, in the non-conference, personal."