After a 14-1 (3-0) start to the season, it is apparent that the key to Chris Beard and his team’s success is on the defensive side of the ball.
The Red Raiders have yet to give up 70 points in a game this season and are holding their opponents to 53.5 points per game. This is good for the second-best scoring defense only behind the notoriously stout defense of the Virginia Cavaliers. After giving up 35 to Oklahoma in the first half, the Red Raiders held the Sooners to 24 points in the second half and an impressive 32% shooting for the game.
One of the biggest differences this season is the ability to block shots. As a team the Red Raiders are averaging 5.3 blocks per game which is 20th in the country in that category. A big reason for the increase in blocks this season is thanks to St. John’s transfer Tariq Owens. Owens has proven to be a valuable player on both sides of the ball, but his shot blocking ability has changed the outlook of what this defense can do. The opposition has to think twice about driving to the paint when Owens is hovering around the rim. Owens is averaging 2.5 blocks per game and he had a block party against the Memphis Tigers back in December when he swatted 8 shots in an impressive come back win.
On top of being a top scoring defense, Texas Tech is holding their opponents to 33.3% shooting on the season. This is the best defensive field goal percentage in the country. The ability to switch and close out on shots has been vital this season and it’s rare that the opposition gets an easy bucket. The intensity this team brings on the defensive side of the ball is what championships are made of.
Defense has been known to travel well and if this team aspires to dethrone the Kansas Jayhawks, the defense will have to lead the way. So far, the Red Raiders have proven themselves to be a top team, and let’s hope the defensive energy continues this weekend when they travel to play the Longhorns in Austin.