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Instant Reaction: Zach Smith, strong team defense lead Red Raiders to blowout win

The Red Raiders win behind Zach Smith and some incredible highlights

NCAA Basketball: Abilene Christian at Texas Tech Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

The No. 21 Texas Tech Red Raiders defeated the Abilene Christian Wildcats in a matinee showdown by a score of 74-47. The game was controlled by the Red Raiders from the tip, as they never trailed in this game as the Red Raiders jumped out to a 7-0 lead and never looked back. The starting lineup looked different as Jarrett Culver once again got the start, this time for Niem Stevenson, and Davide Moretti got his first start in a Red Raiders uniform as he started for Keenan Evans.

What impressed

Defense, defense, defense. The Red Raiders once again held an opponent under 50 points as the Wildcats couldn’t get anything going. The Red Raiders came out in a man but tried different zones and traps to keep the opposing team on their heels. It worked very well as the Wildcats only shot 29.5% from the floor and 20% from three-point land as the Red Raiders had stingy defense all night. The Red Raiders also were good at drawing fouls today. The Red Raiders shot 34 free throws today, although they only made 50%. They got the Wildcats best player, Jalone Friday, in foul trouble immediately, limiting him to only 4 points and 2 rebounds the entire game (he averages 15 points and 5 rebounds).

NCAA Basketball: Abilene Christian at Texas Tech Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Zhaire Smith all impressed me tonight. He made so many highlight plays including a poster slam that you might see tomorrow on SportsCenter. Smith had 14 points, 5 boards, and 2 blocks. Justin Gray also had a nice night, totaling 11 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, while shooting 4-4 from the free throw line.

What Disappointed

Free throws again are a problem for the Red Raiders. They only shot 50% from the line even though they got plenty of opportunities. I think Coach Beard and his staff will spend tons of time next week shooting free throws if they are to make a splash in Big 12 play. Turnovers also a concern of mine coming away from this game. At points in the game, the Red Raiders became careless with the ball and became turnover prone, having 13 today in Lubbock. If the Red Raiders can take better care of the ball and make their free throws, they have the potential to turn some heads in the Big 12 this year.

Player of the Game

Zach Smith is my Player of the Game. Smith had the type of game that he needed so badly. He had a highlight film dunk and played excellent on both sides of the ball. Smith had 16 points and 6 boards today, only missing one shot from the field as he went 7-8. This type of play will hopefully continue. For his performance today, he is my Player of the Game.

NCAA Basketball: Abilene Christian at Texas Tech Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Final Take

The Red Raiders performed well in their final tune-up game before Big 12 play begins a week from today against the Baylor Bears. The Red Raiders demonstrated some areas that need improvement as do all teams, but overall they executed their game plan against Abilene Christian and this win against a good team like the Wildcats will help them in Big 12 play. Next up, the Red Raiders take on the Baylor Bears to open up Big 12 play.