Player of the Game: Tommy. Yeah, we could give it to Keenan again, but we’re handing out the hardware to Tommy Hamilton IV, who hit some early first half three-point shots to keep the game close in the first half and then he proceeded to hit 5 of 6, including 4 of 4 from the three-point line, to score 14 points, grab 3 rebounds, dish out an assist and 3 turnovers. Good job Tommy.
High Flyer of the Game: I didn’t feel like there were a ton of high-flying opportunities, we’ll go with Keenan, who hit a ton of runners that seemingly went in for the senior guard. Not necessarily high-flying, but Evans seems to levitate sometimes.
Defender of the Game: I thought Norense Odiase’s second half defense on Dean Wade was absolutely terrific. Zhaire Smith struggled covering Wade in the first half and that was a problem, but Odiase started out on Wade in the second half and because Odiase lost weight and got quicker and stronger, he had no issues covering the mobile Wade.
Multi-Purpose Player of the Game: Jarrett Culver didn’t score a ton, but 10 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 4 steals, a block and just 1 turnover. That’s stupid.
- Texas Tech struggled in the first half and the fact that they were in it in the first half speaks to how this team plays. They don’t get down on themselves and they don’t get rattled. They very well could have done that as they were down early, but they just kept plugging along and muted the crowd and before you knew it, Texas Tech was neck and neck with Kansas State. In that first half, Texas Tech struggled to muster much, if any, offensive flow and Texas Tech had a really tough time guarding Wade.
- The second half was really a different story. The Red Raiders never let K-State in the game in the second half and from the throw-in to start the second half, Texas Tech was in control. Texas Tech out-scored K-State by 29 and allowed the Wildcats to only score 20 points in the second half. That’s not really even fair. The Wildcats shot 29% for the game and 18% from the three-point line. Kansas State’s most consistent offense was hitting their free throws.
- Texas Tech had 13 steals, including 5 by Keenan Evans and the aforementioned 4 steals by Culver. That led to 18 Kansas State turnovers and Texas Tech only turned the ball over 12 times. Don’t ever underestimate the importance of a senior point guard who has the ability to create his own shots.
- Seriously, Evans ability to create something out of nothing is maybe his best attribute. Evans finished with a team-leading 19 points, on 6 of 12 from the floor, 1 rebound, 3 assists, 5 steals, a block and 3 turnovers. But it was Evans to hit dagger old fashioned three-point plays was huge. I would swear he hit 3 or 4 of them. And appreciate this while Evans is here because being able to create your own shot is something that only elite players really have.
- Zhaire Smith had a really rough first half, and if I had to guess, he missed 3 of his 7 shots in the first half and was blocked by Wade a couple of times. But in the second half, Smith persevered and finished with 11 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists and no turnovers.
- Head coach Chris Beard:
On the game…
“We were pleased to win another Big 12 game today. These games are so hard to win with all the preparation and you have to play well to win especially on the road in this league. I am happy for our guys. Defensively we dialed in. I think we played our fullest 40 minutes of the year defensively. Offensively we could not get much done in the first half. You can credit K-State for that. In the second half things opened for us and we were able to put enough points on the board to win.”
On how prepared they are to be sitting atop the Big 12 standings…
“Our coaching staff has a lot of experience. Some of us have been in this position before so it is really important to lead our players. We have been trying to do everything we can to help the guys. The message they have gotten from us is it is one game at a time. In the Big 12 a two-game winning streak gets you right back into the fight and a two-game losing streak has you feeling like life is over. We have experienced both. It is not the sexiest of answers but it is the truth. We are just a program that prides ourselves in getting up every day and going to work. The next game on the schedule is our biggest game. You have to give a lot of credit to our players I think they have bought into this identity and they are the ones executing it.”
- Texas Tech host Oklahoma on Tuesday night on ESPN. Should be a fun game. Of the remaining games, Oklahoma and Kansas are at home, while Baylor, Oklahoma State, and West Virginia are all on the road with the last home game against Kansas and the last game on the road against the Mountaineers. This stretch won’t be easy at all, but it’s been a pretty fun ride. EDIT: I forgot about the TCU game being the last game of the year. Apologies.