Tortilla Tossin’ Player of the Game: Jarrett Culver. Such a beautiful game. 9 of 21 from the field, 4 of 9 from the three-point line, 6 boards, 4 assists, 2 steals, a block and 6 turnovers. Everyone had turnovers, Culver and Mooney had the most with 6.
Defender of the Game: Chris Beard gets my vote this game. This was a ton of fun to watch as the Duke offensive player would get the ball on the wing and the Texas Tech defender would turn his body and essentially funnel the Duke player to the baseline. Duke loves to dribble, drive and either dish or finish in the lane with Williamson coming from the baseline. Texas Tech implemented all of that and Beard has given the rest of college basketball a game plan of how to defend Duke. Not many will be able to execute it, but it’s there now.
Multi-Purpose Player of the Game: No one else scored in double figures and I’ll go with someone that normally doesn’t get this recognition, Norense Odiase played 23 minutes, was 3 of 4, led the team with 7 boards, finished with 7 points, 1 assist, 1 steal and just 1 turnover. He played better than we’ve seen in a while.
- What a scene and what a ride. Starting out being down by 0-8 was an absolute disaster of a way to start the game and I just had my head in my hands, but that’s the thing about Beard teams is that they don’t give up, they dig in. And that’s exactly what they did, with about 6 minutes remaining, Texas Tech wasn’t just in this thing, they were up by 2. We don’t celebrate losses, but Duke is a team with 4 first round players playing on their team, a lot like Kansas and they held their own. It was a ton of fun to watch this team battle, and truthfully, they played like complete crap at times on offense. There’s part of me that thinks that this game shouldn’t have been as close as it was, but the Texas Tech defense was stellar.
- The only way that Duke was able to score consistently was to score on the fast break, which tells you all you need to know about 2 different things: 1) Duke is amazing in the open court; and 2) Texas Tech had 24 turnovers, 15 at halftime, that led to those Duke fast break points.
- Part of the lead-up to this game was how Texas Tech had/has a terrific defense and all of that’s true, but Duke’s defense is just as good as Texas Tech’s, just different. They have tremendous length and what was seemingly simple passes weren’t really simple at all and caused Culver and Mooney fits on just holding onto the ball. It was so strange to see things that look simple not be so simple. Chris Beard talked about how Duke’s defense forced Texas Tech out of their traditional offense, which it did, and Texas Tech is not a dribble-drive team (the most famous team that does this other than Duke is Kentucky):
“A really good defensive team. I think because they have the hall-of-fame coach and great players, everybody talks about the talent, the offense. It’s tough defense. They make it very difficult for you to run your offense and it kind of turns into a dribble-drive type of game.”
- Going back to the defense, it was obvious that part of Texas Tech’s game plan, which has been their game plan all year, was to take charges. The best way to stop someone from barreling down the lane is to stand right in front of them and be brave enough to take the charge. There was this deal last week that said that taking a charge from Zion Williamson is like getting hit by a car. I’d bet $100 that Beard not only saw this, but he embraced it and told the guys that you can be either afraid of Zion and Duke, or show up and do what you do. And it almost worked to perfection, culminating in Brandone -freaking- Francis taking a charge that led to Zion fouling out. Which that was a terrible call, Francis wasn’t set, but no one’s been brave enough to stand in front of Zion and see what happens. And one quick aside, there was someone on Twitter who said that Zion reminded him of Oliver Miller, back from Arkansas and that is one of the more ignorant things I’ve ever seen. I know that I shouldn’t be gushing about an opponent, but Zion could be generational because to have that size and ability to jump like the way he does is freakish (in a good way). Don’t let the game get in the way of watching a really exceptional player.
- Someone asked on Twitter why Matt Mooney kept getting minutes and it is because he executes the defense near flawlessly. I know that’s hyperbole, but he plays defense exactly the way that Beard wants him to plan. The 6 turnovers were incredibly tough to watch because it would seem like he’s a guy that shouldn’t have a problem turning the ball over, but he’s had a bad stretch here recently and I’d like for him to be more careful moving forward for sure.
- The problem with the way that the team is currently set up is that it is Culver and then you sort of hope for the best with the rest. I think that during the course of conference play you won’t see just one person be “the guy” behind Culver. Most likely, you’ll see a different guy step up each game. And for most opponents, it won’t be so difficult to get shots off. That was a big problem against Duke. They’re such a long team from 1 to 5 that you’re always sort of looking over your shoulder and against most teams that won’t be a problem. What will need to happen in conference play is that Mooney, Morretti, Edwards, Francis and Corprew really need to be much better offensively. Anything that Odiase or Owens gives you offensively will be a bonus in my opinion, but those other five players need to be more assertive offensive and they just need to make some shots.
- Pretty high praise from Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski:
— David Collier (@CollieronTV) December 21, 2018
- The crowd was special. So jealous of everyone that got to go and be a part of that experience. I hope that when you get a chance to breathe, write down what you did, where you ate, where you sat at Madison Square Garden, what you thought watching the game. Celebrate it and tell your kids about it. And I hope the players do the same thing. New York in December. Rucker Park. Seeing the Lion King. Playing at the Madison Square Garden. Shaking the hand with a hall of fame coach.
- Texas Tech head coach Chris Beard:
“Congratulations to Duke. In a lot of ways they have the kind of program we’re trying to build in Lubbock. This is just our third year. I was really proud of our guys tonight. I thought we competed—we just have to play better. Also I’d like to recognize our crowd. We brought the 806 to New York City and got “Raider Power” going at Madison Square Garden. We have some of the best fans in college basketball. I want to recognize all the people who came out and supported us. This game is kind of eerie—familiar like the Villanova game from last year. We were right there. We get two wide-open threes and two layups around the six or seven minute mark left in the game. I thought if we could’ve gotten those, the momentum would’ve swung a little bit. But, this is what Duke does. They just know how to win. We have a lot of respect for their program.”
- Beard on Culver:
“He’s one of the best guys in college basketball…The secret is out. Jarrett Culver is a great player. And, what makes him really special is the kind of person he is, his character. He’s the real deal. The guy is like an old school student of the game. He’s in the film room more than anybody I’ve ever coached. He always wants to get better. He’s that fine balance between confident and killer, but he’s also the nicest guy in the world. He’s going to kill you in one-on-one at 10:30am on Sunday then he’s going to help you go to church at 11:15. He’s special.”
- Texas Tech basketball gets a break (And so do I!) until December 28th where they’ll play their last non-conference game at home against UT-Rio Grand Valley
— Holly Rowe (@sportsiren) December 21, 2018
— Trey Culver (@tculver7) December 21, 2018