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Key to dealing with Raiders is on the boards

To beat Texas Tech, you do it from the inside out.

That was fairly obvious during the closing weeks of the Big 12 Conference season, when the Red Raiders – Gonzaga’s opponent in the second round of the NCAA Tournament by virtue of a 78-66 first-round win over UCLA on Thursday – lost four of seven games.

Tech was outrebounded in all the losses, by eight per game. Meanwhile, three of those opponents burned the Red Raiders by shooting better than 51 percent from the field.

But coach Bob Knight’s Red Raiders (21-10) know how to win, too – ask Oklahoma, which lost two of three games to Tech this year. Their perimeter game, keyed by guards Ronald Ross and Jarius Jackson, can be relentless defensively – the Raiders force five more turnovers a game than they commit. And they have four different players shooting better than 40 percent from 3-point range.

But if you stop Ross and Jackson (they shot just 40 percent in those last four losses), the Raiders don’t have a lot of answers, though 6-5 freshman Martin Zeno had some big games in midseason. Devonne Giles, at 6-8, is their best interior threat.

Recently, freshman Damir Suljagic has replaced Darryl Dora up front in the starting lineup, but Suljagic has just two points in his three starts.

The Zags and Raiders have played four common opponents – Tech beating up on San Francisco, Northern Colorado and Missouri but losing three times to Oklahoma State.