Of course we are going to discuss the late game heroics of Keenan Evans after he hit that beautiful step back jumper in overtime to get the spectacular win over the Longhorns. He has had to play some of the best basketball we have seen in a long time as Red Raider fans for us to keep rolling in these wins. Evans has put the team on his shoulders in the final minutes of the last two games against South Carolina and Texas to force a victory for Texas Tech. It has been nothing short of amazing to watch.
First, let’s talk about the amazing stats that he has racked up over those two games that we used Evans as our crutch to get the wins. He has shot 16-25 (64%) from the field, 6-10 (60%) from 3-pt range, hit 31-33 (93.9%) from the charity stripe, add 7 rebounds, 6 assists, and 7 turnovers. Damn! Those assists are down because hardly anybody else on the squad is hitting their own shots in the last two contests. When it comes to points needed, Evans has delivered.
Tech has played some really great defense for stretches, and we have given the ball to Evans to score the buckets or get to the foul line. It is the easy call, put the ball in Evans hands and have him look for the open shot or drive and most likely get hacked to go to the line (sometimes for an and 1 opportunity). Besides Zhaire Smith and Tommy Hamilton adding a few points in the South Carolina and Texas games, most of the rest of the offense has stalled. Taking Evans shots out of the stats we have shot as a team 26-74 (35.1%). That is awful. To show how terrible that is, just be aware that the LAST ranked shooting team in college basketball (#351) Coppin State have the same shooting percentage at 35.1%. Not good. Coppin State currently has a regular season record of 4-20.
If not for Evans, we would not be sitting pretty at an 18-4 overall regular season record and being tied at #2 in the Big 12 at 6-3, just one game behind Kansas. We have to give credit to him for us not being 16-6 with a 5-4 Big 12 record. The motion offense has sputtered, and we sometime look lost or like we are standing around when we get the ball in our hands. The other conference teams have now had ample time to look at the tapes and know our tendencies. The offense must play better in the second half of this Big 12 schedule. Texas threw a zone and man-to-man switch on us and we looked shocked. Similarly, when the team has been pressed full or half court we seem to not flow through our sets or know how to break the press. It will be interesting to watch how our squad responds after these close games. We cannot rely on Evans to bail us out at the buzzer for the next upcoming 9 games.
Now, back to the good. In the end, it is a nice problem to have that we are able to worry about our close wins instead of being on the other end of the stick. For many years I have been writing about heartbreaking losses, and trying to take the positives away from it. I have always dreamed of being able to critique a consistently top ranked Red Raiders basketball program. And, it is happening. Yet, now that we are on top… let’s stay there and look at how we can get even better and stay at an elite level. We have a chance to make history, and that Big 12 Championship is within reach. We all want to bring it home to Lubbock. For our coaches, for our players, and for our loyal basketball fans. Wreck ’em Tech!!!