The Texas Tech men's basketball team has done something in their past few games that has stood out to all of us fans. They are finishing games strong by pulling together runs in the 2nd half to close out play. This is leading to victories and a 7-1 overall record; the best start to a season since the 2009-10 campaign. Let's take a look at the field goal percentage in the last 5 games broken down into the 1st and 2nd half...
vs Northwestern State - 1st 14-35 (40%) - 2nd 13-21 (62%)
vs Air Force - 1st 6-21 (29%) - 2nd 14-31 (45%)
vs Auburn - 1st 7-18 (39%) - 2nd 7-16 (44%)
vs Fresno State - 1st 12-29 (41%) - 2nd 13-23 (57%)
vs Prairie View A&M - 1st 10-22 (46%) - 2nd 17-29 (59%)
It is unarguable that the Red Raiders are doing much better in the last half of the game. They are not falling off as the game goes on. Instead they are making a much higher percentage of shots and winning games. You wouldn't expect that from such a young team, but the Red Raiders are gaining experience and playing clutch basketball to close the games. Nothing could be more promising then having the confidence that no matter what happens at the start of the match there is always a fighting chance for the squad to end strong.
There are many contributing factors to coming out of halftime and having fuel to make a higher percentage of shots. Coaching is a huge influence when Tubby Smith and staff have a chance to make changes to the lineup. We have been playing with a bunch of different guys getting minutes, and Coach Smith goes small when needed or gets the bigs involved when needed. Also, we seem to turn up the heat on defense in the second half once we find out what is working. Playing with the right lineup against different opponents and pressuring the ball seems to be getting us better opportunities on the offensive side of the court. You can visibly see the flow of the game and momentum explode in favor of the Red Raiders.
Our never give up attitude is another factor that gets us going. Our confidence is flying high right now with gaining wins instead of coming up unlucky. The guys are keeping their heads up and not being discouraged. The LSU game in the final minutes and overtime is the only time we seemed to be rattled by the bad guys. Since the game in Baton Rouge I am not witnessing players clamming up and putting their heads down after a missed shot. They are always hustling back to pick up the open man or look for the steal. Transition buckets can rocket a team to increased determination unlike anything else.
I do not see any backwards steps so far this season, with the only exception being our free throws. We are building on team chemistry and look better as the year is progressing forward. I hope we can keep it up into the Las Vegas Classic tourney. A championship in this non-conference tournament would be the best thing to happen to our program in a long time. I believe we can win it while continuing to improve as more ticks run off the clock. Wreck 'em Tech!