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Texas A&M 68, Texas Tech 70

For the second time in 5 days, the Texas Tech Red Raiders defeated a top 10 opponent, the Texas Aggies, 70-68. I'm still in shock, I really wasn't expecting this win as it seemed too much to ask this team considering their early season deficiencies and the fact that they were playing a team that had been on a pretty good roll themselves. Either way, as Rock Chalk Talk noted, this puts Tech in first place in the conference as we would have tie-breakers against the Aggies and the Jayhawks. Still, a really important win as Tech continues to build its resume for an NCAA bid. Make sure and check out the game-day thread to relive the action.

Player Min. Rbs. Ast. Pts. Comment
D. Dora 28 4 2 9 Came up with the biggest shot of the game, still has work to do.
J. Jackson 40 2 3 13 A very quiet 13 points, but played the point well and was good defensively.
M. Zeno 40 2 2 22 He's so important, but he must reduce the turnovers to take game to next level.
J. Plefka 31 7 1 17 Player of the game, was outstanding on defense and offense.
D. Suljagic 10 2 2 0 Quiet minutes, but contributed with good defense.
C Burgess 20 1 3 6 Didn't handle the ball as much, hit a key 3-pointer down the stretch
D White 2 0 0 0 Minimal minutes.
A. Voskuil 20 0 0 3 His minutes are increasing, would like to see him be more aggressive offensively.
M. Prince 9 0 0 0 Didn't have his best game, but the Ags were a tough match-up.

What Tech Did Right:

  • John Plefka is playing out of his mind. You could have given me 20 opportunities to give you 20 keys to the game and I would not have told you that John Plefka would have 17 points, hit 2-4 from beyond the arc and pull down 5 boards, all the while, playing very solid post defense against Jones and Kavaliauskas. I thought that Tech might try to pull the Aggies away from the goal with Dora, but not Plefka, that's just not an option. Well, I was completely wrong, and happy to be wrong. Either Plefka or Dora have really stepped up their play in the past two games, and Tech needed either of them to do so, I'll take it.
  • Tech hit their 3's. 10 for 19 will win you games. The surprising thing was that Jackson was responsible for only 2 of those 3-pointers. The rest came from Zeno (1), Burgess (1), Plefka (2), Voskuil (1), and Dora (3). That's some pretty balanced scoring.
  • No one on this team is afraid to take the big shot. I don't know what Knight has done to this team to instill in each player the confidence to take that shot. With teams run by coaches who rule with an iron fist you always expect players to be hesitant. That's not this team. Dora hit a huge shot, Zeno wasn't afraid to take the ball to the basket just inside the last minute. That's an incredibly wonderful trait to have in a team.
  • Tech was able to limit the Aggies offensively: Prior to the game, the Aggies were a well-balanced team where a number of players could score for the Ags (kinda sounds like Kansas too) and Tech was able to limit the scoring to Law and Jones. I thought that from Kirk's past performance, his shot-making tonight was an aberration, rather than what's to be expected from him. Generally speaking, although I still get frustrated by the defensive lapses, Tech is a pretty solid defense and they have really improved their perimeter defense from earlier in the year.
  • Tech was efficient offensively. Although the Red Raiders didn't shoot over 50%, they came pretty close. One of my keys to the game was to make the Aggies work on the defensive end and I think that by the end of the game, they were all tired of guarding this motion offense. It wore the Ags down

What Tech Did Wrong:

  • Rebounding. I thought Tech got a little lucky here as they were being terribly out-rebounded the entirety of the game. Jones was huge on the offensive glass. Granted, Jones is a pretty talented player, but he shouldn't have been able to dominate the glass like he did. Tech was out-rebounded by 10 (28-18) and that's got to catch up with the Red Raiders at some point during this season (Baylor?).
  • Raiders still looking for offensive flow. In looking at the play-by-play Tech had some serious problems scoring in the second half. With 13:47 left in the 2nd half, Burgess hit a three, the remainder of the game, Tech managed only two more buckets, Dora's two 3-pointers. Granted, most, if not all of those possessions were the result of A&M's very aggressive defense that eventually caught up with them which resulted in lots of free throws, but you could tell that Tech wasn't comfortable on the offensive end for most of the game.
  • Turnovers: I realize that at this point I'm being hyper-critical, but there seemed to be a number of times where there were a number of silly turnovers, especially from Zeno and Dora. Tech doesn't turn the ball over that much, but it would be even better to limit Dora's and Zeno's to the point that this isn't even a factor any longer

There were so many key moments to that game. From Dora's 3-pointer with 1:06 left, to Burgess' heads-up foul on Acie Law at the end of the game with Tech up by 3 to Martin Zeno's drive to the bucket, subsequent rebound and foul.

I thought it odd that Jackson brought the ball up the court a good portion of 1st half, but considered that Knight have wanted to put the ball in Jackson's hands as early as possible. The thought being that this might be a way to try and get him more involved in the game. I don't know that it worked, and at this point in the season, I feel more comfortable with Burgess handling the ball.

Once again, a huge win for the Red Raiders, quite possibly two of the biggest wins in Texas Tech history. We've got Missouri on Saturday and right now, they are putting the hurt to the Buffalo.