USA TODAY Sports
Five items trending this week with the men's basketball team. UT coming to town on Saturday!
TRENDING FOR TEXAS TECH
Points in the Paint | It’s really hard to give a proper evaluation and track trending items for a week when your team gets a win by 9 points and a loss by 37, but I’ll try and do my best. Against TCU we went to their weak spot and was able to dump a lot of passes down low. We also had the ability to penetrate around screens and drive the ball to the hoop. We beat them to the basket and on the defensive end we keep them out of the paint. That wins ball games for our team. Tech hasn’t been a 3-point shooting team, and our mid-range shots don’t seem to fall all that often. So we took it to where we could get a lot of high percentage shots down low. We whipped up on TCU 42-22 with points in the paint. Fans were impressed with our shooting percentage being at 62.2%, but that is the numbers that a team will put up when they get to shoot the ball close to the basket. Against TCU we only attempted 9 treys. Now, onto the Kansas game. Where we were outscored 38-22 for points in the paint by KU. We attempted 15 three-pointers and made 1. All game it was hard for us to get those high-percentage shots, so we were settling for mid-range floaters. We ended up shooting a pathetic 26.4% overall for our field goal percentage. Needless to sum up, but our strength is not shooting from anywhere but from only in the paint. If we are going to beat UT on Saturday we better plan on smashing the ball down low and keeping them from getting it inside when we are on defense.
Assists | How a team distributes the ball is very key to winning games. Tech has struggled as a team to set up plays offensively or to find the open man cutting to the basket all season. We are #298 in the nation at assisting baskets with 10.9 assists per game. That number should be much higher, and it was during the TCU game where we had 15 assists. I enjoyed the set plays that worked when we would cut to the basket and throw the ball into the open hands of Tolbert or Crockett waiting at the rim. 15 apg is what the top 42 teams in the nation average. Against TCU we took advantage of them and made them pay with our passing. But, against KU we only had 7 assists all game. The only highlight assist in that one was the alley-oop to Crockett at the start of the game that was jammed home (check out the picture above). Kansas had one guy that almost doubled our entire team in assists (Elijah Johnson had 12). If we are going to beat UT we have got to be able to pull the defense one way and be able to break away from the defenders on the weak side to get open for some passes at the rim.
Jordan Tolbert | Tolbert has found his offensive scoring game over the last half of the season, but especially last week. We all know his heartbreaking story of losing his father in the preseason and missing a few weeks of preseason practices because of it. He has had a rough season, but the team has helped carry him through the tough times and he seems to be showing signs of being able to score like his freshman year. Against TCU he poured in 22 points on 9-10 from the field. He was aggressive and really was battling under the basket to gain position on his defender to get the ball in his hands to score. Even against KU 7-foot giant Jeff Withey he managed to be 5-9 from the field and finished with some help from the line with 16 points. Something that I have tracked all season is Tolbert and his foul trouble. It always affects his aggressive play when he hits 3 fouls, and in the TCU game he had only 2. All game you could see his physicality while he had the luxury of playing all out. I really hope he doesn’t get the calls against him in the UT game, because his presence on the floor is much needed on Saturday.
Turnovers | Again the turnovers are a positive this week! In the TCU game I was scared when we had 8 first half TOs, but we came out in the second with more stability and ended the game with only 11. Against KU we had 14, but still that is below our team per game average. We are at #270 in the country at 14.6 TOPG, but we have actually been getting better nearing the end of the season. This shows that the squad is gaining experience, and that is sometimes all we can ask in these games that get out of hand on the scoreboard.
UT & Big 12 Tournament | We control the Longhorns destiny in the Big 12 tourney. Stay with me as I go through the explanation. If we beat UT on Saturday we assure they are the #8 seed in the Big 12 tournament. Our Red Raiders have already locked up the #9 seed (win or lose). #8 plays #9 in the first round of the Big 12 tournament. So, get ready for back-to-back games against the Longhorns if we can get that win in Lubbock on Saturday! Now, if we lose to UT we still have a chance to play them if West Virginia beats Iowa State on Saturday. I actually would bet on ISU beating WVU, which would mean that if UT beats us (and ISU beats WVU), then West Virginia would become the #8 seed and Tech would play them in the 1st round of the Big 12 tournament. I hate to admit anything good about UT, but Myck Kabongo is making UT a more competitive team. They are 4-3 since Kabongo rejoined the team. I really didn’t think he was going to impact the Longhorns game a whole lot, but I was wrong. They now are stretching defenses a lot more with their depth at guard. I have to remind myself that one star player can make a huge difference for a team in college basketball. I believe in this philosophy, but let my hatred for UT stand in my way from believing it. With that said, I still think we have a chance to win in Lubbock and want to win this game more than any other game we have played all season. I don’t think UT is as good right now as Kansas, K-State, or Oklahoma State (all three losses with Kabongo back). We do have a chance, and I am hoping we can pull a win against UT in the game on Saturday. I wonder what others think? Would you like to see us beat UT on Saturday, and play UT in back-to-back games... or would you rather play West Virginia for the Big 12 tournament? Wreck ‘em Tech!