Texas Tech 85, Richmond 70
* 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.
- I was honestly worried about this game and thought that Richmond would give Texas Tech a real fight. Richmond has some really good offensive players and perhaps this is just my fear of still being unsure as to what this team actually is. But you know what? Texas Tech has some good offensive players too and they only allowed Richmond to score 70 points and Texas Tech’s offense shoed up, scoring 85 points and shooting more than 50% in each half. Again, Texas Tech’s biggest jump is maybe going to be offensive as the young players learn how to be shot-makers and make things happen.
- Texas Tech dominated the boards again. And I mean absolutely dominated. That’s something that hasn’t happened in a long time. Texas Tech out-rebounded Richmond by 23 rebounds. Texas Tech had 14 offensive rebounds for the day and had 26 rebounds in the first half alone. Texas Tech turned those second chance opportunities into actual buckets as Texas Tech scored 16 second chance points.
- The player of the game was Devaugntah Williams, who scored 17 points, going 6 of 14 from the floor and 4 of 4 from the free throw line. Williams also had 9 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 turnover, 2 blocks and a steal. Williams has really cut down on his three-point shots, shooting only 2 for the game and I like this Williams a bit more. he’s active inside and he’s become more of a scorer rather than a shooter.
- The progression of Keenan Evans continues as Evans had 14 points on 4 of 6 from the floor, while going 6 of 8 from the free throw line, 3 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 turnover and 1 block. The key stat is the 5 assists and 1 turnover. At the beginning of the year, I wasn’t sure if Evans had made that move from a freshman that had trouble holding onto the ball and being a point guard, but he’s making the turn here in this non-conference part of the schedule.
- The big man, Norense Odiase, also made his presence felt. I was worried that Odiase would have trouble with Richmond’s frontcourt, but it was Odiase that dominated the paint, scoring 14 points, going 7 of 12 from the field (no free throws), with 9 rebounds, 2 turnovers, a block and a steal. Maybe more than the points and the stats was the fact that Odiase logged 24 minutes of action and he was an actual presence. That’s important for this team and he’s had a quiet couple of games. It’s nice to see him ready for conference play to start.
- Much of the maturation of Evans and increasing that assist total is Evans’ ability to find Zach Smith in transition or in the flow of the offense for an alley-oop. I think Evans did that at least twice yesterday and Devon Thomas may have found Smith once as well. Smith is doing a terrific job of floating on that baseline and waiting for the opportunity to rise above the defense and Evans is finding him. Smith finished with 10 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 turnover and 1 steal.
- There was a stretch in the second half where the offense was stagnant, namely when Smith and Odiase went to the bench. There were some bad shots and shot-clock violations. The team eventually got back on track, but that sort of stretch is never good and one where against a better opponent, could have really cut the lead. Fortunately that didn’t happen, a main reason for that was that Texas Tech made 79% of their free throws in the second half, 15 of 19, and Texas Tech shot 82% for the game.
- After the game, head coach Tubby Smith had a lot to say, namely that this is a team that’s really starting to figure things out:
“They were really focused. I’ve been pleased with our concentration level. This group is maturing, and they are getting more experience. We are starting three sophomores. Richmond had three seniors and two juniors starting. Toddrick (Gother) got in foul trouble early, and we are able to insert Justin Gray, another sophomore, and not miss a beat. I’m really pleased with that. There aren’t a lot of distractions. It’s all basketball. They start talking to each other about basketball. That’s a sign of a team that is starting to trust one another. I was really impressed with our rebounding today. That has been something we have struggled with most of the season, but we really stepped up and dominated the boards. They are playing unselfishly and executing the game plan.”