Not many teams can shoot less than 50% at the free throw line and less than 50% at the rim and expect to win. Unfortunately for Texas Tech, those parameters both came true in a bizarre fashion last night against Iowa State in a 68-64 loss. The Red Raiders were looking for their first 5-0 start in the Big 12, while Iowa State was looking to rebound from losses to Baylor and Kansas State. Under Chris Beard Texas Tech had won 11 of the last 12 home conference games entering Wednesday night. That was about to change in what would turn out to be an extremely painful game.
After starting the game with a brief 6-2 run, Texas Tech went cold, as Iowa State had an 11-0 run to give them a 13-6 lead. The team would fight back and eventually ended up leading again. After going up 29-25 Tech would be outscored 16-2 to end the half, ultimately being down 41-33. Marial Shayok would lead the Cyclones with 15 first half points, while Jarrett Culver put up ten to lead the Red Raiders, however a 4-10 shooting performance foreshadowed what was to come. On a positive note: Khavon Moore played around two minutes for his first action of the season late in the first half. Judging by the offensive possessions he was involved in it looks like he will be utilized much like Deshawn Corprew was before his calf injury.
Iowa State briefly extended their lead to ten, however a couple of huge buckets by Brandone Francis and Davide Moretti cut the deficit to five, while Jarrett Culver would make a layup in transition and get fouled. Culver would miss the and-one free throw, keeping it a three point game. Iowa State would continue to maintain a five to eight point lead for most of the second half, as numerous Red Raiders missed free throws and layups that would have given them a better chance at a comeback. Tech finally pulled even at 61-61, however a Nick Weiler-Babb midrange jumper gave the Cyclones the lead back, while Culver got rejected on the other end. A few free throws and missed opportunities later (including a missed layup off an offensive rebound from a missed free throw by Tariq Owens) and the game was over. The Red Raiders lost their first non-Kansas home game since Iowa State in 2017.
- Texas Tech shot 17/37 (45%) at the rim (inside three feet), which is over 10% lower than any other game this season (56% vs. WVU).
- Tech converted on just 6-15 (40%) free throws, which was also a season low, surpassing the 50% mark set vs. Arkansas Pine-Bluff
- Jarrett Culver went 6-16 (37.5%) at the rim and 5-10 at the free throw line. For reference prior to last night Culver was 72% on free throws and converted 72% of his shots at the rim. If Culver played anywhere near his seasonal efficiency numbers Tech probably would have won this game. Just to note: I do not put this loss solely on Culver. He play determined and got to the rim at will. He just could not convert, which happens sometimes.
- The offense had only six assists on 26 made baskets. For a motion offense that prides itself on cuts and outside ball movement that is terrible. From what I observed the team lacked any sort of motion for much of the game, which meant that when Culver or another player would drive the defense could rotate help without having to worry about easy kick out opportunities.
- Iowa State only shot 22% from deep, which indicates another strong defensive showing. The Red Raiders have still yet to give up over 70 points or 1 PPP (point per possession) all season.
- Both of the aforementioned stats came close to ending last night, however a strong defensive second half kept ISU under 70 points and barely under 1 PPP, at .97.
- Matt Mooney has had multiple turnovers in each of the last eight games (starting with Abilene Christian). In that time he’s had only one game with more assists than turnovers. At this point I am starting to wonder if Kyler Edwards would fit better in the starting five. This is not a knock on Mooney, but Edwards’ strong driving ability compared to Mooney coupled with his superior athleticism and defensive range allows him to fit in better with an off ball specialist (Davide Moretti) and a superstar in isolation (Jarrett Culver). I’ll break this down more in depth later.
- Marial Shayok was held in check to only five second half points. The zone defense coupled with the high traps in the second half seemed to work.
Player of the game: Khavon Moore
I really struggled to find a legitimate player of the game in this one. Culver put up the most rebounds of any player in a game in the Chris Beard era, however he shot 33% from the field and 50% from the free throw line. Moretti put up ten points on decent efficiency but struggled to drive in this game. Kyler Edwards hit a couple huge shots, but also missed three crucial free throws down the stretch. Mooney was efficient yet again, but could not initiate the offense and got in a ton of foul trouble.
Instead of giving this award to a player who had both good and bad moments (I will say everyone’s effort in the second half of this game was phenomenal), I decided to award player of the game to someone who fought through a devastating leg injury exactly one year ago to the day of the Iowa State game. That would of course be Khavon Moore, who made his season debut last night. The 6-7 freshman did not record any stats, but him merely logging minutes in a Big 12 game is a win by itself. Considering how long it’s been since Khavon logged live game reps it will likely be at least a week or two before Khavon cracks the regular rotation, however as I wrote last week Khavon’s versatility and ball handling could be a key addition to this Texas Tech squad.
Saturday, January 19th at 5:00 PM : #8 Texas Tech (15-2; 4-1) at Baylor (10-6: 2-2)