Texas Tech 79, South Dakota State 67
* 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.
- The flow of the offense for this game was the best that I’ve seen from this team that I can remember. It was NBA-like from the standpoint that the team made lots of shots and found open players. Texas Tech was down in the first half and they didn’t panic. South Dakota State made an early run by hitting a handful of three-pointers and Texas Tech found themselves having to climb out of a bit of a hole. Texas Tech didn’t panic and they didn’t try to shoot themselves back into the game by shooting too many three-point shots, but they just kept plugging away. Lots of mid-range shots and finding post players down low for some unbelievable alley-oops, but the offense looked like a well-oiled machine. And credit should go to the two point guards, Keenan Evans and Devon Thomas both looked really good yesterday and as much as they handled the ball, they only turned the ball over twice. Offensively, Evans and Thomas weren’t huge players, but Thomas did a great job knifing through the defense a few times and he finished with 6 points on the day to go along with 4 boards and an assist, while Evans had 6 points, 4 assists, 1 turnover, a block and 2 steals.
- As much as the offense looked great, the second half defense was stellar. Texas Tech allowed South Dakota State to make 7 of 15 three-point shots in the first half, and by the time the second half finished, the Jackrabbits only hit 2 of 12 in the second half and that defense held South Dakota State to 33% from the field in the second half. Not only that, but the usually sure-handed Jackrabbits had 20 turnovers on the day to only 10 assists, 11 of those turnovers in the second half.
- Part of the reason for the second half resurgence was in part because of Texas Tech hitting the free throw line, making 14 of 17 free throws in the second half. That’s how you put teams away. Not only that, but South Dakota State settled for jump shots, shooting only 5 free throws for the entire second half.
- The two best plays were dunks by Zach Smith and they came on back to back plays in the second half at a time when Texas Tech was beginning to pull away. Those two plays were shots in the arm and Texas Tech never looked back. The first play was the result of a lob to Norense Odiase and when Odiase turned to the left to look at the rim, Odiase found a cutting Zach Smith, who elevated for a terrific dunk.
— Brian Holland (@BHollandSports) December 17, 2015
The very next play (embedded above), Evans finds Smith as Smith shook his man on the left side of the floor and just elevated over everyone else for a monster slam. You’ll have to go to the recap link above for the video of both plays as they haven’t posted the video on YouTube just yet. These were get-off-your-couch type of plays and they were at an important time of the game. The whole team was energized and they fed off of those two plays.
- The player of the game? Gosh, it was such a well-balanced affair that it’s hard to choose just one, but I’ll go with Smith because of those highlight plays. Smith finished with 13 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 turnovers, 2 blocks and 2 steals. Just a terrific performance. And those 13 points came on 7 shots as Smith made 6 of 7 from the line.
- Toddrick Gotcher was terrific from the outside, making 6 of 11 from the field, including 3 of 6 from the three-point line to lead the team with 17 points. Gotcher has really been looking for his shot recently and he’s been making more than he misses. If Gotcher and Devaugntah Williams are two legitimate outside threats for this team, that makes a huge difference in terms of opening things up for the guys inside.
- Norense Odiase had a solid game as well, making 3 of 7, all 4 of his free throws and finishing with 10 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 turnover, 1 block and 2 steals.
- Justin Gray is just on another level athletically and he only had 7 points, but he also had some huge plays. A big block late in the game and hitting outside shots makes this team so much better. With Gray and Aaron Ross coming off hte bench, this team has some real firepower coming off the pine as Ross had 7 points, 3 rebounds, a turnover and a block.
- Texas Tech had 23 points off of those 20 South Dakota State turnovers, which is huge for this team and had 30 points in the paint. Those are both good signs.
- It was the debut of Matt Temple and he only played 6 minutes, but we did get to see a glimpse of him, which was good for me. Temple was a little unsure of himself and that sort of thing just takes time. He definitely understands the concept of team defense, he’s looking in the right spot, but it’s going to take him some time to catch up to the speed of the game.
- C.J. Williamson didn’t play last night. He was suited up, but apparently it was for some sort of academic stuff. Not exactly sure what it is, but hopefully that gets figured out sooner rather than later.