A week ago, we saw our then No. 12 Red Raiders face off against the No. 2 Blue Devils in Madison Square Garden. Although Texas Tech fought hard and had a lead through much of the game, they ended up on the losing side as Duke won by a misleading double digits.
Now a good thing about this game is that there is all reward and almost no risk. Perhaps the only negative that could’ve really happened by a massive blowout by Duke. This game shouldn’t do much to hurt to overall perception of the team and we all learned what we excel at against good teams and what needs to be worked on.
So we’re going to list what we saw from the team this past week and how Tech may be able to improve these in the coming months:
People were wondering which would hold this game, one of the best defenses in college basketball in Texas Tech or the offensive firepower in Duke. Well, both teams scored and allowed more points than they had all season, but defense appeared to be a bigger factor in the game.
Duke averaged 93.6 per game before the game and scored just 69, which is 24 points off their average. Meanwhile, Texas Tech allowed 51.2 points, which was 18 points off their average. Not to mention that there was a lot of late points in the end.
There were some wonders how Tech’s defense would do playing higher scoring offenses, and it appears that it holds up nicely. They held Duke to 38.3% shooting, which was worse than their yearly average but still damn good, and forced 19 turnovers, around their yearly average. This defense definitely travels, even against freak athletes.
Too. Many. Turnovers.
Although the Red Raiders caused a lot of turnovers, they also had a lot of turnovers. I believe I saw Beard’s sign say 10 or less. They finished with 24. Can not win with those kind of numbers turning the ball over. Tech may win this game if we’re held at our average prior to the game, which was roughly around 12.
Now some of this was caused by Tre Jones (who I mentioned was going to be a guy to look out for this game), who is phenomenal at stealing the ball. Those I’m not upset about. I’m mad about to stupid turnovers that should’ve happened due to lazy passes.
Some were just from throwing the ball around the arc and either not realizing or not putting enough on a pass, allowing a Duke player to tip it for an easy bucket. Some were inbound plays with miscommunication or lazy inbound passes. They have to clean that up.
Jarrett Culver Is A Star
Consider this. Before the game against the Blue Devils, Culver averaged 19 points per game. After the game, his ppg increased to 19.6 He was the third leading scorer at 11.2 ppg and was the leading scorer this season.
And not’s because he’s getting high scoring totals against bad competition. It’s unquestionable that Tech’s two toughest opponents were Duke and Nebraska, both of whom are ranked. Culver scored 25 and 26 in those games, two of his three highest scoring games this season and two of his four highest scoring games in his career.
On a floor featuring Zion Williamson, RJ Barrett and Cam Reddish, it was Culver who was the best player on the floor that night. Not saying Culver is better than these guys overall, but he absolutely better than them that night. Sue me.
Sure his turnovers were a little high, but that’s what happens when you have the ball in your palms the whole night. He shot a tad under 50%, due to the fact he had to take them, and also collected six rebounds and four assists. He’s one of the best players in college basketball and may be a lottery pick if he leaves early for the NBA draft.
Jarrett Culver Needs Help
Culver lead all scorers in the game with 25 points. The next leading scorer had seven. This can’t happen in big games if Tech wants something to happen this year (as I mentioned a few weeks ago). He was on fire early on, but basically had to try and win the game by himself due to the lack of shooting by most of the team.
Not only that, but Culver got tired because he played 35 minutes (seemed like more, but sat some due to fouls) and appeared to have a harder time hitting his jumper because of that. Plus when you’re guarding three Top 5-10 picks that are bigger than you, it’s going to wear you out.
Fact of the matter is we need someone that can take the load of Culver so he doesn’t have to take 14 more shots than everyone else in the game. Who can that guy be? Is he on this roster? Will he show up in time to help out?
It probably has to be a guard. Mooney has a good shot, but gets a little too passive sometimes. Moretti and Francis both can catch fire, but also can struggle deeply like they both did against Duke. Edwards made 50% of his shots, but makes freshmen mistakes sometimes and may not be quite there. Corprew is good.
Or is this player not playing yet? If Moore can be cleared and play this year, is he a viable option? He was a Top 50 player in high school and is one of the most talented players to step on campus. McCuller is here too, but he’s a year younger and may not ready for the show yet. Either way, Culver can’t do it by himself.
Chris Beard Can Coach
Although the outcome wasn’t what we wanted and there were a couple things he could’ve fixed, I thought Beard did a good job in this game for several reasons. First off was the gameplan going into the game. Freshmen make mistakes and aren’t as experienced in the game, so they took a lot of charges and intercepted a lot of passes.
Second was his demeanor. Usually we see Beard fiery and in the face of his guys either pumping them up or correcting them. With this being a huge stage against a huge team with a lot of people watching, it looked that early on some guys were a tad nervous. Beard remained calm, and it looked like it rubbed off on his players.
He gained a lot of respect from Coach K and it’s obvious to us, and maybe some people after watching his game, that Texas Tech has one of the best college basketball in the nation currently.
No coach is perfect, and occasionally they make mistakes or have some flaws. Sometimes I don’t think Beard has the right line-up out there. I felt like that at some points last year as well. For starters, well, the starters. As I mentioned back in October, I don’t think both Odiase and Owens need to start.
Neither have an outside shot presence, so therefore can’t truthfully stretch the floor and clog up the paint sometimes. This was an issue early on in the game and may become a problem in Big 12 play. I love Odiase, but I think he needed to come off the bench. Not saying he can’t get a lot of minutes, but it be better if both players aren’t on the floor at the same time.
Secondly, I didn’t like the end of the game line-up. Brandone Francis has been a slump recently and I didn’t like him being on the floor in that point of the game. I feel like Beard sometimes has too much faith in seniors. The line-up I would’ve gone with is Culver (duh), Ownes, Corprew, Edwards and probably Mooney.
Culver is the scorer, Owens protects the paint down low and gives you a big man presence against a big team, Corprew knows his role well and can knock down shots (highly favored if you like advanced statistics), Edwards is aggressive on both sides of the ball and actually played a nice game for the most part, and Mooney can play 3-and-D.
Overall, Texas Tech is one of the better teams in the nation and Duke is just slightly better. Maybe that will change if we get the chance to play them in March. There are a lot of positive things to take away from this game, and they are for sure a Top 25 team, but now we know what the Red Raiders can improve on.