Texas Tech 81, Minnesota 68
* The Flex is a shout-out to Tubby Smith’s flex offense and a place for us to set some screens, make some cuts and discuss the game.
- That was not the result I was expecting. I was expecting to see a much more efficient team for Minnesota on offense, but the Gophers were sort of a mess on offense and looked like they didn’t have a real plan for much of the game. Maybe that’s just a byproduct of Minnesota not hitting their shots, but that was not what I was expecting.
- This was the first game this year where the game never felt in doubt. From the moment I turned it on and despite Minnesota making a run or two, the game never felt in doubt. Texas Tech was almost never flustered by Minnesota’s defense and the offense looked smooth for the entire day. It was a fun game for sure.
- I don’t know about any sort of revenge factor, there’s no doubt that Tubby Smith wanted this win, but Richard Pitino didn’t five Smith, it was some AD who has been fired himself (resigned after claims of sexual harassment). It wasn’t those remaining players that wanted Smith gone, so there’s really no one for Smith to be vengeful against. This was just about proving that Smith has the better team. Well, maybe there was a slight revenge factor as Smith stated after the game, via the ESPN game recap:
“Like I said before, we tried to do things the right way up there,” he said. “And I’m sure that — I know we did. I’m really happy we were able to come to a place like Texas Tech, come to Lubbock, where they’ll celebrate you and you’re not just tolerated.”
- I thought the five starters played as well as I’ve ever seen them play. Truly a dominating performance from those players. Texas Tech was led by Devaugntah Williams, who had 21 points, making 7 of 13 from the floor, 1 of 3 from the three-point line, 6 of 6 from the free throw line, 6 boards, 3 assists, 3 turnovers and a steal. Williams didn’t force the outside shot, but he did find a variety of ways to score, both inside and mid-range. This is the game that Williams should play, not just jacking up three-point shots. If he can do this on a consistent basis and not just fall in love with shooting behind the line, then Texas Tech could be much better.
- Zach Smith showed up big-time as well. I think the announcers and Minnesota were surprised by Smith’s athleticism and Smith was more aggressive on offense than I can recall. Forcefully taking the ball to the rim on a few occasions. He ended up with 15 points, 6 rebounds, an assist, a steal and a turnover. Biggest hole in his game is free throws. If he’s going to bang like he did, he’s got to make those better than the rate he’s currently hitting them for the year, which is 45%.
- I think I’ve been rough on Keenan Evans this tournament, but I thought he controlled the game about as well as I can remember and he only had 17 minutes, but he ended up with 12 points, 2 of 7 from the field, making 8 of 10 from the free throw line and 5 assists with just 1 turnover. That’s a big deal for Evans, to have more assists to turnovers in such a short period of time. It felt that he was pushing the ball and pace when he did play and he also did a good job of getting to the line and taking the ball to the rack.
- Toddrick Gotcher played the most of anyone on the floor, mainly because I think he was guarding Minnesota’s best player, but he was the most effective from the outside today, going 3 of 4 from the three-point line and scoring 11 points on the day to go along with 4 rebounds, 2 assists and no turnovers. Gotcher’s spot-up game was on point and he hit a few daggers for Texas Tech.
- Norense Odiase only had 5 rebounds, but it felt like he was causing significant issues for Minnesota inside. His size and athleticism were problematic, a huge dunk on a follow-up miss on a fast break was a significant show of his new athletic ability (he lost a bunch of weight in the offseason and it shows). Aaron Ross played really well, just like he has all year, scoring 10 points making 4 of 6 and he was an absolute beast on the boards, grabbing 9 rebounds on the day. It felt like Texas Tech was significantly better on the boards and I think it was because Ross and Odiase were so good. Texas Tech won the rebounding advantage by 5, but it felt like it was a sider margin than that.
- Texas Tech finished their time in Puerto Rico, going 2-1 for the tournament, picking up wins against Mississippi State and Minnesota and is 3-1 on the year. Not bad for a team that’s learning on the fly and didn’t register a win away from the United Supermarkets Arena all of last year. Texas Tech hosts Hawaii on Saturday and by that time, Texas Tech will pretty much be at home until conference play starts.