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Texas Tech Red Raiders 81, West Virginia Mountaineers 87 | Game Analysis

The Texas Tech Red Raiders couldn't keep pace with the hot-shooting West Virginia Mountaineers.

Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Spo

Winning on the road is difficult, but Texas Tech is getting there, slowly but surely. I was getting a bit discouraged at the losses, but I really shouldn’t be. Texas Tech hasn’t been blown out since they played Arizona St., which was seven games ago and have been in every game. Considering where this basketball program has been for the past four years, I feel that Tubby Smith is nothing short of a basketball genius.

The Texas Tech defense just couldn’t get enough enough stops and for whatever reason, WVU is a bad match-up for Texas Tech and just can’t stop their guards, who scored 59 of their 87 points on 58% from the floor. Texas Tech just didn’t have the answer, even though Dusty Hannahs tried like heck to do it pretty much by himself.

Star of the Game | G Dusty Hannahs: Hannahs was 8 of 9 from theh floor, including 7 of 7 from the free throw line, pouring in 25 points, 6 assists and 0 turnovers. Just a fantastic offensive performance.

Three Takeaways:

1. More from Frontcourt: Before the game, I hoped that Dejan Kravic, Jordan Tolbert and Jaye Crockett would dominate the frontcourt. For whatever reason, WVU has a guard advantage, most likely because they're just quicker than what Texas Tech can throw out there, and Texas Tech should have a distinct frontcourt advantage, but that just didn't happen. Texas Tech really needed for Kravic to have a third straight terrific game, but he only had 2 shots, scoring 3 points and grabbed only 1 rebound in just 17 minutes. Kravic did have 4 blocks in that short period of time, but overall just not enough production. Tolbert only managed 5 shots and 9 points and 4 boards in 28 minutes. That's not enough when you see the advantage that West Virginia has in the backcourt.

2. Backcourt Defense: I mentioned this above, and maybe this is just the trade-off that this team has to make to stay close offensively. Hannahs was just a joy to watch. I love watching terrific jump-shooting more than high-flying dunks because I'm old and seeing Hannahs when he's on fire from deep is just a beautiful thing to twach. Even with Hannahs only missing one shot, it still wasn't enough for Texas Tech to get past West Virginia. In fact, Texas Tech didn't shoot poorly overall, Texas Tech was just 49% overall and even shot 52% from the floor for the game. However, West Virginia only shot 39% from the floor in the first half, but an astounding 69% for the second half and 53% overall. It didn't feel like WVU shoot poorly in the first half because the Mountaineers made 7 of 11 from the three-point line. Hitting those shots, plus hitting 11 of 12 from the free throw line kept WVU close in the first half, despite being out-shot.

3. Being Competitive with Defense: The two wins against Baylor and TCU make me feel better. Yes, we're talking about feelings and I don't care. With relatively close losses to Iowa St., West Virginia and Texas, it was feeling as things would start to snowball, but Texas Tech earned a terrific win against Baylor, who is reeling, but who cares, and a grind-out victory against TCU. Texas Tech just didn't have enough defensive might to stop WVU and that's the one thing that the numbers play out for Texas Tech, which is that they are a really good offensive team, but the defense needs work. I'm sure that this is the top of the list for Texas Tech to repair in the off-season. And the defense is the one thing that can travel with a team on the road. Sometimes, the shooting just isn't there, but a defense can show up every night. I'm guessing that this will be corrected with Smith as soon as practical.

Charts: Thanks to the good folks at StatSheet.