Texas Tech vs. Houston Prediction, Odds, Key Players for Wednesday, Jan. 17 (Trust the Houston defense)

Can Houston find its footing in the Big 12 after back-to-back losses? 

Jan 13, 2024; Fort Worth, Texas, USA;  Houston Cougars guard L.J. Cryer (4) and Houston Cougars teammates.
Jan 13, 2024; Fort Worth, Texas, USA; Houston Cougars guard L.J. Cryer (4) and Houston Cougars teammates. / Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The Big 12 will be a season-long, nightly war with the amount of potential projected tournament-bound teams in the league. The Big 12 has eight teams ranked in the latest AP Top 25 poll, and two of them will battle at Fertitta Center Wednesday night when No. 25 Texas Tech visits No. 5 Houston. 

Texas Tech, picked to finish eighth in the Big 12 Preseason Poll, is one of the hottest teams in the country in the first year of the Grant McCasland era. The Red Raiders lost in overtime to Butler on Nov. 30, but have won nine straight games since, including a 3-0 start in Big 12 play. Texas Tech is coming off a 2-0 homestand, defeating Oklahoma State and Kansas State.

Houston, once the No. 2 team in the nation, is adjusting to life in the Big 12. The Cougars are coming off back-to-back losses in low-scoring rock fights to Iowa State (57-53) and TCU (68-67). Can the Cougars bounce back as double-digit favorites Wednesday night?

Here’s the betting preview. 

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Texas Tech vs. Houston odds, spread and total

Texas Tech vs. Houston betting trends

  • Texas Tech is 8-8 ATS this season
  • Houston is 8-7-1 ATS this season
  • Texas Tech is 2-2 ATS as an underdog this season
  • Houston is 8-7-1 ATS as a favorite this season
  • The OVER is 9-7 in Texas Tech games this season
  • The OVER is 4-12 in Houston games this season 

Texas Tech vs. Houston how to watch

  • Date: Wednesday, Jan. 17
  • Game time: 9 p.m. EST
  • Venue: Fertitta Center 
  • How to watch (TV): ESPNU
  • Texas Tech record: 14-2 (3-0 Big 12)
  • Houston record: 14-2 (1-2 Big 12)

Texas Tech vs. Houston key players to watch

Texas Tech

Pop Isaacs: The guard averaged 11.5 points per game as a freshman last season and has stepped into a bigger role this year. The sophomore leads Texas Tech in scoring at 16.3 points per game and has put up 20-plus points in four of the last five games. Isaacs is coming off his worst game in nearly a month. He was held to 10 points on 2-of-11 shooting in the win over Kansas State. He has a tall task trying to bounce back against Houston’s top-ranked defense.


L.J. Cryer: Fueling Houston’s championship aspirations was the addition of Cryer, who provided an elite, experienced scorer after three successful seasons at Baylor. Cryer leads Houston in scoring this season at 15.6 points per game, but the Big 12 has been brutal for the senior guard. In the last two games, Cryer has combined for just 10 points on 4-of-23 shooting. He’s 2-of-13 from 3-point range in that time and is shooting under 40% from distance (38.1%) for the first time since he was a freshman. 

Texas Tech vs. Houston prediction and pick

Houston is the hungrier team and will lean on its defense to bounce back in front of its home crowd. Kelvin Sampson’s squad is top-5 in nearly every major defensive metric, including No. 1 rankings in overall efficiency, effective field goal percentage, turnover percentage, 2-point shooting, block percentage, and steal percentage. 

Houston’s offense is great at taking care of the ball (No. 29 in turnover percentage) and crashing the glass (No. 3 in offensive rebounding percentage), but shooting has been an issue. The Cougars are the No. 309 free-throw shooting team in the country and are shooting just 34.4% from 3-point range and 49.7% from inside the arc. With Houston’s recent offensive struggles, it’s hard to trust them to lay double-digits against a ranked team. You can count on Houston’s defense to bring the intensity. Bet Texas Tech to go under its team total. 

Game odds update periodically and are subject to change