Player of the Game: This is easy. Keenan Evans I think had 4 points in the first half and then he exploded for 19 in the secon dhalf and was unstopable. In fact, I think Evans had 4 points on 4 free throws and he was 0-4 on the night, but then proceeded to go 6-6 in the second half from the floor and 6-6 from the free throw line. He was just dominate in the second half. Oh, and it wasn’t just the scoring, but Evans also had 6 rebounds, 5 assists, a steal, a block and 3 turnovers.
High Flyer of the Game: Well, this is easy. It’s Zhaire, but Zach wasn’t messing around and was having none of this.
360 ALLEY OOP IN A TOURNAMENT GAME! ARE YOU KIDDING ME!? pic.twitter.com/lVCfYhaua4
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) March 15, 2018
— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) March 16, 2018
Defender of the Game: I’m going with Zach because his defense was spectacular. He’s had a weird year and it hasn’t gone the way that he wanted, but he was the only post defender that could defend the post and control the middle. His presence was crucial. Oh, and 3 monster blocks.
Multi-Purpose Player of the Game: Zhaire Smith had 10 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, 1 block and just 1 turnover. That’s how you fill it up.
- Again, this dunk.
— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) March 15, 2018
- Jarrett Culver could not pass to his teammates to save his life and it was quite frustrating to watch. Just couldn’t get used to the long arms of SFA, which is odd considering Culver’s height.
- Davide Moretti fouls a lot on defense and it’s a try-hard sort of thing, but it’s still really tough to watch him play defense and struggle to stop opposing offensive players because the foot-speed with Moretti.
- The best lineup of the night was where Zach Smith was playing center because Odiase and Hamilton just weren’t working at all. And really, it was any combination with Zach in the lineup.
- I will not talk about the refs.
- Evans’ bucket to tie the game at 57 may have been turning point. That high layup off the glass came off of a situation where Evans was called for a charge that didn’t really look like a charge. And then Gray to Zhaire was a thing of beauty.
- That first half was a tough thing to watch because you knew that Texas Tech could play better. Missed free throws and missed opportunities with turnovers were really tough to watch, but Texas Tech persevered and they kept with it.
- Justin Gray had a really good game too, 7 rebounds and some terrific defense is really what we’re going to get and to get that from Gray is really terrific.
- Loved the grit from Niem and I thought that his ability to gamble with 4 fouls was really terrific and tells you everything you need to know about Niem. He’s a tough kid and every team needs tough kids. He’s one of them.
- Really nice to see Moretti his a couple of shots. Really had to have that three-pointer in the first half.
- Tale of Two Halves: Texas Tech shot 36% from the floor, 17% from the three-point line, 46% from the free throw line, while holding SFA to 38% from the floor and 29% from the three-point line; in the second half, Texas Tech shot 58% from the floor, 50% from the three-point line, 85% from the free throw line and SFA shot 39% from the floor and 43% from the three-point line. The defense never wavered from one half to the next, but the offense got significantly better.
- Texas Tech dominated inside, 36 points in the paint to just 20 to SFA and I’d love to know the splits between the first half and the second half, but I’m guessing there would have been a second half surge.
- Chris Beard continuing to coach Keenan Evans and notice how Beard props Tubby Smith, who he knows just was fired from Memphis (because Beard credits any coach that he plays):
I think you’ve got to give Tubby Smith and his staff and Joe and Vince and Pooh and those guys credit too. They laid the foundation. I have to give our staff some credit. And then above all, you’ve got to give Keenan Evans credit. This guy has willed himself into one of the best players in college basketball.
I think the one and done and the great players, that is a part of college basketball. Those guys deserve it because they are so talented, but I think the Keenan Evans story, the Jevon Carter story, the Devonte’ Graham story, these guys are just special. These are guys that just continue to get better. I just love coaching him. I just don’t want it to end. I want to coach that guy another day. It is like when you go to a good movie and you know it’s getting towards the end, but you are loving the movie so much, you want it to go a little bit farther. Or you’ve got a good plate of enchiladas and you’re looking at it, and you only have two bites left, but it’s so good, you turn it into three bites. I want it to keep lasting. I’m so glad we get to go back to the hotel, and I get to coach these guys another day. I can’t wait until tomorrow to prepare and certain Saturday a chance to play again. But guys like Keenan make this job great, and this is all about the players. And we’ve got good players.