The Texas Tech Red Raiders (18-11, 7-7) defeated the Oklahoma State Cowboys (19-9, 5-8) 59-57, and the Red Raiders have greatly improved their chances of playing in the NCAA tournament.
Now, Tech has made it easy on the selection committee. They just have to win the remaining games. This game, although not pretty, was the key to punching their ticket. Let's get to the box score.
|M. Zeno||39||9||2||13||Gritty performance, great defense on Boggan.|
|J. Plefka||28||3||0||4||Night and day on defensive effort compared to Dora.|
|D. Dora||21||2||1||5||Made Monds look like an all-American.|
|J. Jackson||40||3||4||11||Free-throws at the end were huge, still needs to show up.|
|L. White||7||0||0||2||Started, and pushed the ball early.|
|D. White||20||2||1||10||Has a nice inside-garbage game and improving 3-point shot.|
|A. Voskuil||18||1||2||7||Didn't force shot (he never does), played nice D.|
|C. Burgess||27||1||1||7||Only pushes the ball to a point, prefers to run offense.|
What Tech Did Right:
- Zeno Is Great: That's not necessarily something that Tech did right, but it is certainly something to cheer about. Where would this team be without this high-flying, and rebounding-machine small forward? That's the stuff of nightmares. Zeno had a near double-double and his defense against Boggan was instrumental today. Boggan was obviously not used to having to work around smaller, quicker defenders. That coupled with the premise that Zeno can out-jump Boggan and I think that Boggan is lazy enough to get boxed out a majority of the time, made it relatively simple for him to guard Boggan. Give Knight a little credit here for being unconventional and allowing Zeno to guard Boggan most of the game.
- White Played His Game: Decensae White made a name for himself early in the year by getting those garbage buckets around the basket and had a real nose for the ball and rebounds. Well, he certainly did that in the first half today, but you will note that White is expanding his game and if he can develop a legitimate 3-point shot, then there's no doubt that he'll develop into a solid player. He has to remember that he's more valuable as that garbage player than as an outside threat to continue to get playing time.
- Held the Perimeter: OSU is not a great outside shooting team, but today the Cowboys were 1-12 and Burgess did a masterful job of making sure that Curry didn't get many clean looks from beyond the arc. Although Burgess was instrumental in stopping Curry, credit should be delved out to Voskuil, Jackson and White for really keeping the OSU perimeter players in check. (I won't lie here, it helps that Hatch has one of the worst looking shots for a guard I think I've seen in a long time).
- No Turnovers: This team just does not turn the ball over and I think that's a great characteristic. Having 6 or 7 extra possessions that most teams do not allows Tech to take advantage of work their offense. Those extra possessions were certainly necessary today as Tech missed almost half their free-throws. Not making mistakes is a true advantage most game and it certainly was today.
What Tech Did Wrong:
- Free Throws: Tech was awful at the line, absolutely awful. With about 5 or 6 minutes left, as Tech continued to miss free-throws, I had a horrible sinking feeling that Tech was going to lose that game. I have no doubt that these guys will spend a number of hours shooting free throws before the Baylor game.
- Rebounding: This was an awfully dangerous game not to show up and rebound, at least a little. By all accounts, Tech had only 22 boards, to Oklahoma State's 39, 14 of those were offensive for OSU (compared to 4 for Tech). With the end of the regular season and the Big 12 Tournament just around the corner, Tech has got to remember that to stay in most games they have to do a better job of rebounding, at the very least, not get out-rebounded by such a large margin.
- Interior Defense: Other than Plefka and Zeno, the interior defense was horrible (if you can't tell, I'm singling out Dora). There were a number of times where Monds looked like a world-beater. Luckily, most teams don't have two decent inside post players, but it's simple, if everyone blocks out then there aren't any issues. Dora has got to learn that he can't play dodgy defense against post players and Plefka is, at times, too aggressive defensively (which is okay).
Overall, it was a really good game, a solid victory. Tech had to have this game to get into the tournament and they really need to beat Baylor at home and ISU on the road to solidify their place. Baylor is up next, and they lost to the Aggies 97-87 today.