Basketball

Texas Tech Comes Back to Beat Hawaii, 82-74

Texas Tech went down early, but a defensive switch to the zone defense helped lead Texas Tech to a comeback win against Hawaii.

Texas Tech 82, Hawaii 74

* 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.

  • This was probably a good game for Texas Tech to have coming off a bit of a break after the Puerto Rico Classic. Texas Tech had not played since Sunday, and the break was probably well deserved. Texas Tech came out slow and seemed to struggle a bit to stop Hawaii, but the Red Raiders eventually settled down, clamped down on defense and notched yet another solid win.
  • Tubby Smith went to a zone defense to stop some of the penetration and open looks that Hawaii was getting and that pretty much grounded the Hawaii offense to a halt. If Manderson doesn’t come back, I would expect to see a zone defense a bit more. Gray would have to play a bit of a big forward spot because there really isn’t any depth in the middle until Matt Temple becomes available, probably until after the semester ends. This somewhat throws the rotation in a bit of flux because now Aaron Ross is having to cover both the center and power forward spots and Texas Tech needs someone who can at least defend a post player.
  • The stars of the game, at least in terms of highlights, were Zach Smith and Norense Odiase. There were times that Odiase was completely gassed, especially in the first half, but he and Smith ended up playing 32 minutes to lead the team and they both responded with really terrific performances. Smith had 15 points, 4 rebounds, an assist, a block, 2 steals and a turnover on the night. Odiase finished with 16 points, 3 rebounds, an assist and a turnover. The big problem was that they weren’t dominating inside from a rebounding perspective, but that ended up not making a difference¬†all that much as Texas Tech ended up out-rebounding Hawaii anyway. What they did do, especially Odiase, was force Hawaii to foul because Odiase was really terrific at finding and creating space in the block to operate.
  • Don’t look now, but the reason why this game was so far out of reach was the fact that Texas Tech was nailing their free throw, making 79% for the game and 85% in the second half. Texas Tech had veen averaging around 70% on the year, so this was a significant jump. Pretty much everyone made their free throws other that Odiase, who was 0-3. Justin Gray made 11 of 12 free throws, Devaugntah Williams made all 9 of his free throws, Keenan Evans made 5 of 6 and Smith and Aaron Ross each made both of their free throws. If anything, that’s a sign of concentration and the fact that they can hit free throws, both of those are good things.
  • Devaugntah Williams led the team with 19 points, 4 assists, 7 rebounds, a turnover and a block. Still not shooting particularly well, only 4 of 13 from the floor, but the fact that he got to the line 9 times speaks to the fact that he’s not settling for jumpshots, attempting and making only 2 of 4 from the three-point line. I can live with the 4 of 13 in this instance and he has toned down the volume of three-point shots. If Williams is getting to the line and driving to the lane, that’s good for the team and good for him. He’ll have better looks if defenders are having to watch for the dribble-drive as much as the jump-shot.
  • Off the bench, Aaron Ross was solid again, providing some really nice defense to go along with 5 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists and a steal. He had a really nice three-point shot at the top of the key and if he has that range (Smith also hit one as well) then that makes him just that more dangerous. Gray, as previously mentioned, only made free throws for his points, so he finished with 11 points on the night, missing his only shot, but he also had 5 rebounds, 3 turnovers, 2 blocks and a steal. Gray saw 19 minutes, what seemed like the most minutes he’s played this season. He saw a ton of action in the second half, playing 13 of a possible 20 minutes. With Isaiah Manderson figuring out if he wants to be on the team, Texas Tech is going to need all of the frontcourt depth they can get.
  • Speaking of frontcourt depth, C.J. Williamson is a bit of a turnover machine right now, but he’s got vision. The simple stuff is sort of evading him right now, just setting up in the offense, but the one fast break he had with Jordan Jackson (Jackson missed both free throws), Williamson immediately looked up the court and found Jackson in the blink of an eye. We probably won’t get to see that vision full throttle until next year, but if he ends up playing alongside Evans, that could be a really dangerous combination for Texas Tech.
  • Speaking of Keenan Evans, he probably had his worst game, but it didn’t like he was terrible. Evans was 1 of 11 from the floor, including 5 of 6 from the free throw line, for 7 points, to go along with 3 rebounds, 4 assists, a turnover and a block. Not a stellar day offensively, but I did feel like he did a good job of directing traffic. I’d also mention that I think both he and Devon Thomas are doing a good job of getting Texas Tech into the offense more quickly, something that I thought they struggled to do early in the season with the new 30-second shot clock. Directing Tubby Smith’s offense doesn’t necessarily result in huge assists, but he is getting the team set up and running the flex in an efficient manner.
  • And I continue to be impressed with Devon Thomas, who was 2 of 2 from the floor, 1 of 2 from the free throw line, to finish with 5 points, 3 assists a turnover and 2 steals for the day. I feel like he’s getting more comfortable with how he’s running things as well.
  • Overall, a nice comeback win, especially since Texas Tech was down by 10 points in the first half. There wasn’t a lot of panic in the team, just kept grinding away. The difference was the free throws. Hawaii only had 19 attempts on the day, making 11, while Texas Tech shot 38 free throws, making 30.
  • Texas Tech is now 4-1 on the year and up next is Sam Houston State on Wednesday night.

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