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Texas Tech overcomes slow start in dominating win over Houston Baptist

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The Red Raiders quickly fell into a 9-0 hole before coming alive and demolishing the Huskies

NCAA Basketball: Bethune-Cookman at Texas Tech Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

For about four minutes it looked like Texas Tech might be in trouble vs. Houston Baptist in Midland. The Red Raiders gave the ball away on almost every possession in the opening minutes, which allowed Houston Baptist to create a 9-0 lead in only two minutes and five seconds. Tech responded well, going on a 12-0 run themselves and eventually a 25-4 run over the course of only five minutes. The Red Raiders would continue to build on their lead throughout the half, with turnovers being the only hindering force on the offense. At the half Tech led 54-39 thanks to an outstanding effort by Jahmi’us Ramsey (20 points) and a 16 assist effort from the entire team. The team shot over 60% from the field in the first half, with the turnovers being the only thing keeping the game in reach for the Huskies.

The second half was more of the same offensively. T.J. Holyfield came alive in the paint, scoring multiple attempts at the rim with the defense playing up to stop the trio of Ramsey, Davide Moretti, and Kyler Edwards. Holyfield scored 11 of his 20 points in the second half and went a perfect 6-6 at the rim, showcasing promising touch to pair with his unique shooting ability. The entire team played off Holyfield’s energy, increasing their lead through a 35-16 run to put the game out of reach. With 7:45 left in the ballgame the Red Raiders had an outstanding 89 points, which would’ve been the highest point total since the Kansas game in Lubbock last year.

After putting the game out of reach it was clear that Beard took the foot off the gas from an offensive perspective. Russ Tchewa, Kevin McCullar, Clarence Nadolny, and Andrei Sarasov all played the last seven minutes together, with Terrence Shannon and Chris Clarke rotating in at various points. Clarke had nine assists on the night, which marked the highest total of any Red Raider in the Chris Beard era. The offense as a whole was fairly stagnant with the closing unit on the court, as they only scored eight points over the final six minutes and were forced into seven turnovers during that stretch. Nadolny finally put the team over the century mark for points, marking the first time Tech had reached 100 points since a November 2017 match with Savannah State. The final score was 103-74, with the Red Raiders taking care of business against another sub-250 Kenpom team.

Game stats and story lines:

  • In case you haven’t realized yet: Jahmi’us Ramsey is a beast. 25 points in 22 minutes, efficient scoring at all three levels, and some absurd highlights. This team will run through Jahmi’us Ramsey come March.
  • As stated earlier: T.J. Holyfield was incredibly efficient in the paint. He went 6-6 inside three feet and only missed one shot all night. The turnovers finally showcased a slight weakness in Holyfield (playmaking), however as of now the production we are getting from Holyfield on both ends is more than expected. An 84% TS percentage is higher than anyone could’ve imagined through three games.
  • Kyler Edwards is turning into a really versatile piece offensively. He played a fair amount of offense where he was the primary ball handler, and the results were promising... sort of. His five assists continues a trend of playmaking that we had previously not seen with Kyler, however five turnovers is pretty concerning, especially considering a lot of them were issues with ball placement. Still, his versatile skill set and ability to hit from all three levels makes him very valuable to this team. I see him playing a role similar to what Devonte’ Graham had for Kansas when Frank Mason was in town, as he possesses both the off dribble ability and shooting range to be an effective facilitator for the offense. He’s also arguably the most comfortable in P&R and DHO sets out of anyone on the team so far, both of which have not been run as much through three games as we saw last year.
  • I’m still all in on the Terrence Shannon hive, but this game was easily his worst in a Tech uniform. He missed a few rotations, struggled to avoid turnovers, and had some uncharacteristically poor drives that led to squandered opportunities. The potential is clearly there with Shannon, but he’s still a freshman. His jumper looked decent in this game on limited midrange opportunities, however he has to be better out there to maximize his driving potential. Defensively he is still our most versatile defender, even if he gets caught out of position quite a bit. I’m confident in our rotational defense improving quite a bit throughout the season.
  • Davide Moretti is sensational. He had his worst shooting game since the opening weekend of the NCAA Tournament last year, yet he still had an ORTG over 140 thanks to a 5:1 assist to turnover ratio and a 4-5 performance inside the arch. Moro still has a TS% of 79.8 for the season, and dating back to last year has put up an ORTG over 120 (95th percentile) in 14 of his last 19 games. Moretti is easily the most efficient offensive player for the Red Raiders this decade, and an argument could be made that he’s the most reliable low volume scorer in America right now.
  • 27 assists is incredible. This is what the motion offense is supposed to be, and the ball movement is a good indicator of future offensive success. Tech never had more than 25 assists at any point last year.
  • The rotation looks pretty well set going forward, with eight players seemingly being guaranteed rotation members. Obviously the starting five of Ramsey, Moro, Edwards, Holyfield, and Shannon will be getting significant minutes. Clarke and Nadolny are the two biggest contributors off the bench, with McCullar also getting significant minutes in each of the last two. Avery Benson, Andrei Sarasov, and Russ Tchewa will likely be fighting for the last spot in the rotation.