West Virginia 83, Texas Tech 74 2OT
- During the game, I made the comment on Twitter that Chris Beard was a helluva coach to be where they are at this point in the season, especially going into double overtime against the #9 team in the nation. Someone replied back at me and asked why I was so giddy, essentially stating that this was the same team less one starter from last year and I think implying that the team is underperforming because of Beard.
- I really dislike having these sorts of conversations over Twitter, so I’ll discuss it here.
- Texas Tech is without essentially two and a half starters from last year, Toddrick Gotcher and DeVaughntah Williams as well as Norense Odiase. Williams started most of the season and I think even started late again, but those three players played huge rolls last year. Gotcher and Williams were the leading scorers and Odiase was battling injuries, but he played 20 games last year, some big games early and was around for the tournament. Odiase did miss a ton of conference time, but he played more than what he played this year, which is essentially just a couple of games.
- The bigger point for me is that Texas Tech didn’t replace those two leading scorers in Gotcher and Williams, nor did this team replace the perimeter defense that these two guys played. I think Beard replaced them to an extent with Stevenson, but he’s really only come on late and he’s not close to being the outside threat that Williams or Gotcher were.
- It’s difficult to imagine a team like Texas Tech, one where there’s only one legitimate outside threat in Evans. Don’t get me wrong, Zach Smith has greatly improved his three-point shot, but he’s not sitting on the line spreading out the defense, he’s taking opportunistic three-point shots when available.
- I’d dare say that Texas Tech is one of the few teams that has won 17 games with only 17 consistent three-point threat and no real interior players.
- Smith obviously plays like a forward as he’s the team’s leading rebounder, but Livingston typically rebounds like a guard and Ross isn’t know for his inside play really at all. Those are some pretty big deficiencies that Beard really didn’t replace in his first recruiting class. I tend to not really put a ton of stock into how a coach does in his first recruiting class, but it’s the second one that I start to pay attention to and I think Beard is about to knock this out of the park.
- Time will tell and I don’t think Beard is necessarily done, but he’s going to try to sign two more big men to the class and you’re going to have a completely different team next year, one where there are multiple scoring threats in Brangers and Edwards and a point guard that can take some of the pressure off of Evans.
- My point here is that I truly think that Beard is a pretty terrific coach and this is a less talented team from last year. This was not the typical Texas Tech game as team had 20 turnovers and only 19 free throw attempts. Texas Tech usually isn’t in games where those sorts of things happen, but Texas Tech pulled back the offense a bit and was ridiculously efficient and that was imperative. Texas Tech shot 48% on the road and that almost never happens.
- The other issue for Texas Tech was the rebounds, where WVU had 16 offensive boards and that’s a killer. Offensive rebounds isn’t a coaching thing, it’s having players that box out and Texas Tech doesn’t quite have those yet. It takes at least a couple of recruiting classes to figure those things out. And I do think that Texas Tech was going to be in a bit of trouble anyway because Smith didn’t have any big men lined up as far as the recruiting class was concerned, just Rokas who was going to have his own issues not fouling out when he stepped on the floor nor had Smith signed any three-point shooters early. None on both ends.
- Niem Stevenson was truly terrific in the first half and literally kept Texas Tech in the game. He scored 17 points in the first half and he unfortunately finished with 17 points, 6 boards, 2 assists and no turnovers.
- Zach Smith has been a bit inconsistent lately, he only finished with 8 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists and 6 turnovers and he’s got to be better than that. He was the team’s biggest offender in terms of turnovers. He needs to get back to pull himself away from the three-point line and his team needs to get him some points on the baseline where he’s been so good and he needs to crash those boards.
- Keenan Evans was electric, making the final three-point shot to send the game to overtime was a rainbow of a shot and he finished with 28 points, 4 boards, 4 assists and 3 turnovers.
- Head coach Chris Beard:
“It’s tough, but it starts with the character of our guys,” Beard said. “We have a locker room full of guys and no one’s had an easy life. We don’t have McDonald’s All-Americans or those kind of guys. We have guys that have proven everyone wrong their whole careers. This is just another example, it’s a lot like life. Adversity is going to come. It’s not a matter of when, and when it comes you have to respond. We have a game in less than 48 hours so no choice but to respond.”
- Don’t look now, but Texas Tech hosts Iowa State on Monday. No time to rest and that’s two back-to-back Saturday and Big Monday games in a row. Tipoff is at 8 p.m.