Player of the Game: Jarrett Culver had his coming out game and it was fantastic. Culver was 8 of 15 from the field and 4 of 7 from the three point line, 8 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 steals and 2 turnovers.
High Flyer of the Game: Maybe not with any of his dunks, but I’ll go with Brandone Francis, who was figuratively flying all over the place in his 21 minutes. Francis scored 9 points, had 2 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal and 3 turnovers.
Defender of the Game: Give me Keenan Evans, I thought he was terrific all game long and he played 37 minutes and was really in tune on the defensive end.
Multi-Purpose Player of the Game: I’ll go with Evans again, who had 26 points to lead the team, 3 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals and 1 turnover. Evans also got to the line 12 times, which makes his offensive game so much better.
- What a weird game. A terrible first half and then Beard lit a significant fire under the arses of the team and they got their rears in gear in the second half to pull away from the Cowboys by 5. And Texas Tech was really still down and climbing out of that first half hole until about 5 minutes left in the first half.
- There was that sequence in the second half, where I think Brandone Francis is just all up in someone’s grill and initially draws a charging call only to have it called back, but then there’s a series on the offensive end of things where I think Francis misses a three-point shot, then Gray grabs the offensive rebound and gets it back out to Francis who drains a three and to me, then momentum really started to swing at that point. Francis is fiery as hell and I’d guess that maybe controlling that emotion is the toughest part of being his coach. Keeping him in check.
- The star of the game was Culver and he was absolutely terrific. We probably don’t really get to call him a true freshman anymore. Culver really was the one player that kept Texas Tech in the game. I don’t know how many he had in the first half, but I’m almost positive it was double-figures.
- Poor Moretti, Beard said that he wanted to get Moretti more time and then he turns the ball over on a spin move and then on the turnover fouls the guy that stole the ball for a three-point play.
- This is the first game that I can recall that Zhaire Smith struggled to really fill the box score. And I really didn’t notice his 9 shots, but he only scored 2 points and grabbed 3 rebounds.
- The veterans that Texas Tech needs to step up still need to step up. Justin Gray only scored 4 points in 23 minutes and Niem Stevenson had 6 points in 18 minutes. Stevenson was in control a lot more than he had been in prior games. I’d still like to see Gray get a bit more aggressive offensively.
- I think we’re going to see this collective center rotation between Norense Odiase, Tommy Hamilton and Malik Ondigo. Ondigo only had 5 minutes and I really didn’t notice his 5 minutes, but Odiase and Hamilton scored a collective 3 points, 3 rebounds and 4 turnovers. I don’t know how Texas Tech can get those guys more involved inside, but I’d really like to see that.
- The improvement of the defensive intensity in the second half was pronounced and I loved it. They were really great and I thought Evans was absolutely terrific defensively.
- The team was 10 of 19 from the three-point line and that’s significantly better than what it’s been over this short losing streak.
- Head coach Chris Beard:
“I think when you are struggling, you have to find a way to stay in the game,” Beard said. “If we were down 20 at the half, this win doesn’t happen. Even though we we weren’t playing our greatest, we were trying to find a way to keep it around 10 points and give us a chance. We’re all going to remember the second half plays, but it’s a lot of big plays in the first half that set the tone. Whether it be Tommy Hamilton’s three or Justin Gray’s drive or Culver really helping us stay in the game in the first half. It’s a 40-minute game, each possession has a life of its own. For fans and for coaches, you may ask which is more important whether it’s the last two minutes or the first two minutes. I would say it’s all about equal. In our program, we value good basketball in the beginning and end. I would agree with you that Culver played two great halves of basketball.”
- Loved that Norense shot block. He could not have done that last year.