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Instant Reaction: Rebounding and strong defense lead the Red Raiders to victory

Zach Smith and Keenan Evans among Red Raiders to shine against Kennesaw State

NCAA Basketball: Kennesaw State at Texas Tech Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

The No. 24 Texas Tech Red Raiders beat the Kennesaw State Fighting Owls by a score of 82-53. The Red Raiders had many highlights including some impressive dunks by Zach and Zhaire Smith (see below). Keenan Evans led the team with 16 points while Zhaire Smith had 13 and a really impressive dunk off a feed from Jarrett Culver.

What Impressed:

Rebounding impressed me the most in this game. The Red Raiders doubled up the Owls 47-23 in this category as Norense Odiase led the Red Raiders with 8 boards, 4 of those coming on the offensive end. Justin Gray also had 3 offensive boards and is one of the players that impressed me throughout the game. Gray was tasked with guarding Nick Masterson, a player who was shooting 56% from three-point range, but was held to 1 of 5 from beyond the arc and only 8 points total in the game. Masterson was constantly harassed by a handful of Red Raider defenders including Jarrett Culver and Keenan Evans. The defensive effort overall was excellent as the Owls only shot 30% from the field the entire game and only scored 50 points the entire game.

What Disappointed:

The beginning of the second half was atrocious for the Red Raiders. The Red Raiders led by 23 at the half and the Red Raiders had a little bit of trouble putting the Owls away as the Owls were able to be down by 20 with 9 minutes left in the game. The Owls came out with some good adjustments in the second half and stumped the Red Raiders defensively. This slow start is most likely chalked up to the 8-day finals break that the Red Raiders had this last week. The 16 turnovers is something that can also be attributed to not playing an entire week. No one had over 3 turnovers in this game so it’s not one player as much as it is the entire team that needs to take better care of the ball.

Player of the Game:

Justin Gray is my Player of the Game. Gray shot a perfect 4-4 from the field and 2-2 from the free-throw line and also got 6 rebounds while being a shutdown defender on the best shooter Kennesaw State had. Gray is the heart and soul of this team on the defensive end of the floor. He is the definition of a nit and grit player and I am excited to see what he has in store for us the rest of the year.

The Final Take:

The Red Raiders were able to handle an inferior team and were also able to get our freshman more time before Big 12 play as Jarrett Culver, Zhaire Smith, and Davide Moretti were able to get more minutes in an easy win for the Red Raiders. There were also some huge highlights including a Zach Smith dunk that made me literally jump out of my seat on the couch. The Red Raiders will next play the Rice Owls Saturday night at Lubbock Municipal Coliseum in a Throwback contest.