Player of the Game | Zhaire Smith had another solid performance with 20 points, a steal, a block, and 5 rebounds. He has been a workhorse over the last few games, the future is bright for him in a Red Raiders uniform and beyond.
Stat of the Game | We had more rebounds, less turnovers, and the same amount of steals as the Jayhawks. The stat that it comes down to is shooting, where they were a little better than us. Kansas made 11-25 from three point range, and we went 8-24… one more make from downtown and we win this game by a point. That is heartbreaking.
How the Game was Lost | The Jayhawks were on top of us all day, but we could not finish strong and get the victory. They stayed one step ahead of us. Ball movement was key for them as they are a superior passing team that can find the open man. On our group text during the game Seth pointed out this to Spencer, and had a excellent answer about why they were getting open looks, “Few teams move the ball like Kansas can move the ball. Our defense cheats in the ball side because most teams can’t swing the ball to the open man or have a 4th shooter sitting in the opposite corner.” I couldn’t have said it better myself. Only thing I added is that we are a step slower to kick out and defend those guys on the weak-side. It’s been that way ever since Evans got hurt. I’m going to go into the weak-side open shots and defense more in my weekly post on Tuesday or Wednesday.
Turning Point | When Devonte’ Graham made the miraculous, falling to the ground, trick shot with approximately 30 seconds left in the game and KU went up by 4 points. I’m guessing he makes that shot 1 out of 10 times, and the luck was with the Jayhawks yesterday.
Team Observations | Gray got knocked out at the very start of the game, and that automatically gave us one less starter on our depth. We need Gray as he is not going to pile it up on the stats sheet, but has all the intangibles that it takes to run the Chris Beard system and succeed. The positive from the game was that Zach Smith returned. While he was not at 100%, just his presence alone on the floor in the frontcourt paid dividends. You could tell that KU was not getting any easy dumps inside with Zach and Odiase/Hamilton in the lineup. man, did we miss that.
A negative was that Evans was still not 100%, and did not have the normal hop in his step that he had before the toe injury. We really need Evans to heal up, and can only hope good thoughts that he is back to his normal speed in a few weeks when the NCAA tournament starts. He is a warrior for playing through the pain, and I know he must want to be 100% more than any of us could ever imagine.
One more positive is that the fans and students showed up and made the ESPN Gameday spotlight absolutely amazing. From overnight camping, to insane cheering, to showing why Lubbock is one of the most difficult places to visit for any opponent was accomplished. Everything was run top notch, and it looked wonderful. No matter what the outcome of the game, Texas Tech hosted one hell of a match-up for the college basketball world to view. Wreck ’em Tech!!!
— Texas Tech Basketball (@TexasTechMBB) February 25, 2018