Texas Tech 84, Baylor 78
- Texas Tech needed a big win and they got it. Texas Tech still needs to win on the road and I know tha’s a defeatist thing to write just after Texas Tech beat one of the top four or five teams in the nation, but it’s true. Texas Tech is still behind the eight ball here in terms of wins. Beat West Virginia on the road on Saturday? Now, we’re cooking.
- It is clear that the best players are this team are Keenan Evans, Zach Smith, Justin Gray and Niem Stevenson. They were simply dominant last night. As a group, they played nearly the entire game and that fifth spot essentially went to Anthony Livingston, Aaron Ross and Matt Temple. Back to the “big four” because they were really terrific.
- Evans was the best player on the floor yesterday (although that Maston had some sick post moves), scoring 23 points on 5 of 10 from the floor, making 11 of 14 free throws, dishing out 4 assists and just 2 turnovers. Evans has a way of controlling the game he has truly mastered the ability to scor on just about anyone. He’s developing an NBA game with his ability to create on his own.
- Add in Smith’s ability to alter a game and you have something terrific. Smith had a weird stat line as he had 11 points, including 3 of 4 from beyond the three-point line, but he had only 1 rebound, but affected the game significantly, on the press and offensively, his game is such that defenses have to honor that outside shot which creates more space for others to operate.
- Inserting Niem Stevenson into the starting lineup really couldn’t have come any sooner. He scored 21 points, including 7 of 15 from the floor and 7 of 11 from the free throw line, with 6 boards, 5 assists and 0 turnovers. He had some costly fouls and mistakes late in the game, but he was so good offensively. He’s squirrely offensively, and that’s a compliment, that defenders really don’t know or can’t anticipate how to guard him.
- Justin Gray had the most well-rounded game as he had a double-double, 13 points, 10 rebounds, 3 assists, and just 1 turnover.
- The fifth player is whoever they need to step up at that time. It could be Aaron Ross, Anthon LIvingston or Matthew Temple on the inside with Shadell Millinghaus or Devon Thomas on the outside.
- In watching Baylor twice this year, I don’t see the high ranking. Their record certainly says that they should be ranked highly, but they don’t appear to be a team that shoots particularly well and they lean more on their athleticism than anything else.
- The ability of Texas Tech to get Baylor into foul trouble was significant. Three players fouled out, including Lecomte, which is probably the best shooter on the team (except for Lindsey, who is also pretty good). The ability of Texas Tech to get to the free throw line was significant. Texas Tech had an astounding 43 free throws compared to just 25 for Baylor. That’s ridiculous.
- The only reason that Stevenson won’t play down the stretch is because he doesn’t hit his free throws, only going 7 of 11 and he missed some key free throws down the stretch. Evans missed a couple late too. Hate being critical of those sorts of things, but in close games, that’s incredibly important.
- Here’s head coach Chris Beard:
“I thought we played better without the ball in the second half,” Texas Tech head coach Chris Beard said. “A lot of our layups tonight came on curl cuts or back cuts. That was our guys playing without the ball. The nights that we play good with the ball, we’re good. Some nights when we play better without it, we’re good. If we can ever get to where we play with it and without it, five guys playing offense together, we’ll [be good]. We scored 52 points [in one half] against one of the best defensive teams in college basketball. If we can do that, I think we can compete with anybody on our schedule.”
- You ready to do this again in Morgantown on Saturday? Me too.