Basketball

Game Recap: Texas Tech 88, Oklahoma 78

The Red Raiders pour it on in the second half.

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Game Recap

Player of the Game: Keenan Evans. He was electric in the second half and just overtook the game. Just fantastic to watch a player with so much poise and confidence just control the game. Evans was 9 of 15, including 4 of 7 from the three-point line with 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, 1 block and 1 turnover in 34 minutes.

High Flyer of the Game: This is a stretch, but who cares, I’m giving this to Norense Odiase, who I think had a couple of nice dunks on some nice plays. Odiase had 14 points on 6 of 11 from the floor, 5 rebounds, 4 of them offensive, 2 assists and 3 turnovers.

Defender of the Game: Every player that guarded Trae Young deserves some credit as Young was 4 of 16 from the floor and 0-9 from the three-point line, the first time that Young has not made a three-point shot (I believe this is correct). I think some of it was the defense and the other part of it is that Young just isn’t getting his legs underneath him.

Multi-Purpose Player of the Game: Niem Stevenson was really good last night, scoring 12 points, scoring 3 of 6 from the field and 2 of 2 from the three-point line, including that dagger three-point shot at the end of the game, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 block and 0 turnovers.

Game Notes:

  • What a terrific win for Texas Tech, a game where it was close for the entire game and when the clock struck zero, it ended up being a double-digit win against another ranked opponent and now the Red Raiders are still undefeated at home and it’s still hard to believe how good they are at responding to shots. When OU starts to get a lead, this team battles back and never gives in and never gives it up. They just keep playing as hard as they can and pull ahead.
  • I thought there were two or three daggers in this game, where it just electrified the crowd. Both of the Keenan Evans dunks from the halfcourt sets where he just dribbled down across a defender for a dunk and then the Stevenson three-point shot that was late at the expiration of the shot clock was just another nail.
  • Don’t ever forget how great this perimeter defense is because it’s not just Trae Young that they stop, but it’s the defense that is suffocating and really difficult to play against. As the defense switches, the offensive players are used to getting a quickly look on screens for a jump shot and that just doesn’t happen. Last year, the three-point defense wasn’t really that great, and that had a lot to do with Beard not quite having his guys to rotate, but add in Culver and Zhaire to the mix and you’ve got an interchangeable defense. And don’t forget that next year, Beard will add another 6’5″ freshman, a 6’6″ JUCO player in addition to a transfer point guard that’s already on campus who stands 6’2″ and you’re going to see more of the same.
  • Truthfully, the defense let up a bit in the second half. In the first half, the Sooners were just 2 of 12 from the three-point line, but ended up making 5 of 10 in the second half. The key here is that Texas Tech never relented and the Sooners never stopped Texas Tech from beyond the arc, as they made 6 of 10 in the first half and 5 of 11 in the second.
  • Relatively quiet nights by Jarrett Culver and Zhaire Smith, but these guys usually find ways to fill up the stat sheet. Culver was just 2 of 8 with 7 points, but had 3 assists to offset his 2 turnovers and also had a block, while Zhaire was 3 of 8, including 2 huge three-point shots, I think one each at the beginning of each half, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal and 1 turnover.
  • After the game, Rayford Young tweeted that this was the first time that he heard f-bombs hurled at Trae and I’m not going to be your dad because it could have been just one kid doing it and not a chorus of kids doing it. I’m probably one of the few people that’s cheering for Young as a player when he’s not playing Texas Tech. He really is a fun player, he’s a terrific passer (he’s got to get a handle on his turnovers, but he’s also 18) and I think he’s just tired and the grind of the Big 12 is wearing on him. I don’t watch enough ESPN to know that I’m supposed to dislike him. I watch the games and that’s about it (I really enjoyed listening to Fran Fraschilla last night). Amazingly, I don’t follow ESPN on Twitter or any of the sports blowhards (for every network) and so I don’t see the bias because I’m watching it otherwise. In any event, there are two takeaways from me: 1) If you’re a fan, don’t be throwing f-bombs at opposing players; and 2) A good way not to hate a player is to not watch all of the other crap that isn’t the game.
  • Texas Tech is now 22-4 on the year with 5 games remaining and is on the road on Saturday in Waco to take on a resurgent Baylor team and then on the road again in Stillwater on Wednesday. Both of those teams can beat anyone, so it will be interesting to see how those two games play out.
  • Chris Beard on the crowd:

    “I just want to start by recognizing our crowd, a real home court advantage,” Texas Tech head coach Chris Beard said. “I am sure Coach Kruger would say the same thing. Great fans tonight. We have students camping out and waiting in line all day long to get in. These are the kinds of things we envisioned when we came here when we thought about building the team to a championship contender. I can’t thank our student body enough.”

  • Beard on the win:

    “Each game is different, and tonight was certainly a grind it out back-and-forth game,” Beard said. “I think one of the big things tonight is we’re known as a defensive team. That’s our identity, but you’re not going to beat Oklahoma, those players and Coach Kruger by just getting stops. We knew in the second half in a lot of ways we were going to have to try to win this game with our offense. To shoot over 60 percent from the floor in the second half gave us a chance, and our defense just kind of held on. I thought tonight there were a lot of learning opportunities in the game, both offensively and defensively, to show our players. Above all, it’s a big win because it’s a Big 12 win in February protecting the home court. It’s playing against one of the best coaches in our game, and it’s playing against a team that has really good players.”

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