When you are a team such as Texas Tech, games like these are the ones that you can use to your advantage. You can play with lineups and rotations, see what schemes work against certain teams and honestly just allowing your team to gel more heading further into conference play. For the most part, that is what the Red Raiders were able to do tonight.
There were a few great performances throughout the game for Tech. Marcus Santos-Silva carried the team in the first half with 11 of his 14 points while Mac McClung and Terrence Shannon Jr. also finished with 16 and 22 respectively. The latter of that duo was really impressive, yet again. Shannon Jr. continued his great start to conference play with solid all-around showing, including this steal capped off by a high flying jam in the second half.
The difference tonight for him, was that all of his production came off of the bench. In what I believed was a puzzling move by Beard to keep him out of the starting lineup, it was later discovered that Shannon was the one who requested to come off of the bench. Obviously it ended up working out well, as he scored his season-high and led the team to its 2nd Big 12 win.
The offense in general worked much better at times tonight, especially at the free throw line. The team went 30-36, which is a massive improvement from where we started the season at. Even Micah Peavy, who has been abysmal at the line this season (3-15), looked incredibly better at the stripe tonight (though only going 2-3).
With the win and offensive improvement aside, it still baffles me at how badly we have been shooting the 3-ball. The team was 4-18 from 3 tonight, not necessarily ideal. With a team percentage hovering around 33%, one begins wonder how big of a jump the offense would get if we were able to make 3-6 more of those shots per game.
With the Red Raiders now back at 2-2 in conference play, this team is looking to start fresh. From honestly being a few possessions away from sitting at 4-0 in conference play, I know it has to be hard for them to believe their conference record only stands at .500. They must keeps their heads up and be prepared for the gauntlet of the Big 12.
Opportunity definitely awaits as tilts with both Texas and West Virginia are on the horizon after this weekend’s game in Ames. As of right now, the team’s best win comes on the road at Oklahoma. While that is a quality quadrant 1 opponent, it is not a team who is currently gunning to win the Big 12 title.
If the Red Raiders are to have any hopes of getting good seeding in the big dance, they will need to tighten down at all ends. That starts with the offense, and honestly with Beard being able to find the right rotation with the next 2 or so weeks (or less, if possible). Once these aspects are hopefully able to be resolved, I will feel confident in a good showing from them for the remainder of the year.
This next game against Iowa State will have the same feel as the one today, where the Red Raiders will look to tighten things up before the competition really ramps forward. Though it will be no cake walk, expect Beard to have the guys ready for Hilton and the Cyclones.