Texas Tech lost a hard fought game to Arizona last night, but had a great blowout win earlier against UTSA. The Red Raiders are 6-3 on the season. Below are five things trending with the Red Raiders basketball team this week…
- Outside Shooting | Over the last two games Tech has been in a slump from beyond the arc. We may have beat UTSA by 30 points, but our three-point shooting wasn’t a contributing factor. We went 4-18 (22.2%) and Dusty Hannahs was 1-6. Luckily against UTSA we had the frontcourt talent on our side to beat them inside in the paint. Against #2 Arizona we did not have the talent to win inside, and got beat by 21 points. Our outside shooting against Zona was a mere 1-11 (9.1%) with Hannahs going 0-1 and Robert Turner 0-3. If we want a chance to win against teams with talented big men we have to be a threat from downtown. It’s opens up the inside by stretching out the defense and it provides clutch points when we can’t get our buckets inside to drop. I witnessed many open looks for the trey that were passed up in the Arizona game because we were disciplined in running our offense. This may be something that other fans disagree with me on, but when you are getting beat by a lot I would like the green light for the open outside shot to be on. It may seem like desperation to some, but how else is Tech planning on beating a top ranked opponent when we are down by 15+ points with lots of time left on the clock and our best big man Jordan Tolbert is sitting on the bench in foul trouble? I don’t know who would be the hero to get hot from the outside, but I would like to see one of our guards try to get on fire.
- Driving to the Basket | Our free throw shooting has really been impressive over the last week. We made 37-50 (74%) over the last two games. The emphasis on hand-check fouls is an awful addition to the game that the NCAA introduced to increase scoring and diminish physicality. Also, another point of emphasis for refs to blow their whistle is the block-charge calls that have changed this season. I think it may be time for Tech to take advantage of the new points of emphasis and use it to their advantage. The offense we run is all about getting open shots and moving the ball around to get the open look down in the paint. It would be nice to see Tech give some freedom to our quick guards when they find a mismatch on offense to immediately drive the ball to the goal and get the fouls for a trip to the charity stripe. I have seen us do it some this season and while I hate the new points of emphasis for the refs, we can definitely use it in our favor.
- Bench Play | Tubby Smith has started to experiment with the line-up and is pulling the starters much more quickly than before. Players like Randy Onwuasor, Toddrick Gotcher, and Aaron Ross are getting much more playing time. Against UTSA our bench chipped in 48 of our 98 points, and in the Zona game they contributed 34 of the 58. It may not be something all the fans want to see, but I am actually in favor of seeing a new starting line-up over the next few games before the Big 12 conference games start up. Gotcher has been making a case for a while now to be the starting SG in front of Dusty Hannahs. Also, while Dejan Kravic and Kader Tapsoba are on opposite ends of the spectrum in being more offensively or defensively gifted it has been always my gut to start a guy that is better defensively. The scoring can come off the bench when needed or to get a spark. With myself having a defense first mentality to start a game, it seems that Gotcher and Tapsoba have earned the right to get a few starts. With Tubby Smith giving more minutes to the bench I think he might be seeing the same thing.
- Forcing Turnovers | Tech has been excellent in putting pressure on their opponents and forcing turnovers. Coach Smith is teaching our guys great things to do when the other team has the ball. We run different defenses throughout the game, but our zone defense has seemed to really cause havoc to the opponent’s offense. UTSA had 18 turnovers and Arizona had 15 TOs, and it was obvious to tell at brief instances in both games the coaches and players were getting frustrated. If Tech can make the #2 ranked team in the country give the ball back to us 15 times, we are on a great path to succeed when we have a reliable offense. Our defense will win the games for this program in the future. The constant pressure and correct movement of our team shifting when on defense is a beautiful thing to witness.
- Eleven Day Break | It’s about that time for the squad to get some days off from games. The players and staff can take the time over the next week to go back and reflect on the games they have played. I don’t think they have lost any games without a fight, and they have won the games that were expected of them. I am selfishly sad that next week I will have no Tech basketball games to watch, but I hope the players and staff get some much needed rest from gamedays. The next matchup will be against Central Arkansas on Sunday December 15th, then it is the showdown in Lubbock against LSU on Wednesday December 18th, and back to hit the road with Arizona State Saturday December 21st. There’s a lot to get excited about in the coming weeks. Tech may surprise a lot of people! Wreck 'em Tech!