Texas Tech 77, Oklahoma 69
- Must-win #1 on the books. I had a friend text me before the game and ask if he should take the Texas Tech and the six points or move on to another game and I told him that Texas Tech has been way too inconsistent and felt that Oklahoma would keep it close, particularly because Texas Tech doesn’t really have an answer for athletic guards. I was wrong, but it felt like it was going to be a six point game up until the bitter and somewhat boring end of the game. Had Oklahoma executed better down the stretch, it very well could have been closer than the score appears.
- So there was a change in the starting lineup, Devon Thomas was benched and Niem Stevnson got the start and he definitely responded. Stevenson had 8 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists and just 1 turnover. I wasn’t sure if without Thomas, the team’s ball-handling would struggle and as a team, the turnovers didn’t necessarily hurt Texas Tech because as a team, they only had 8 for the night. And truthfully, there were two very late turnovers, so for the most part, it was a 6 turnover game. Stevenson also gives you more length defensively and in playing team defense, that helps quite a bit.
- Aaron Ross finally broke out a bit, scoring 18 points including 2 of 4 from the three-point line and he also scored 8 of 10 from the free throw line. Ross does need to contribute and he needs to do it consistently moving forward. He’s struggled to find his shots, but in the motion offense, that’s largely dependent on him.
- The play of Keenan Evans is really impressive, scoring 14 points on 6 of 9 from the field and he also had 3 assists and no turnovers for the night. And that was in just 23 minutes.
- In addition to Evans, Justin Gray, Zach Smith and Anthony Livingston also scored in double-figures and it was really nice to see Justin Gray more aggressive offensively He had 14 points on 5 of 7 from the field including 2 of 3 from the field, 4 rebounds and 2 turnovers. Smith nearly had another triple-double as he had 12 points 9 rebounds, 1 assist and just 1 turnover. Livingston had 11 points on 3 of 6 from the floor as well as 2 rebounds and 2 assists.
- Oklahoma did have 11 offensive rebounds and that will continue to be a problem for Texas Tech, but maybe the addition of Stevenson will eventually help on the keeping more athletic teams off the boards.
- Texas Tech quite simply just shot better and played better defense than the last time out. Texas Tech shot 48% from the field including 44% from the three-point line and
- The more I think about this defense thing, the biggest problem is that Livingston is playing center, but he doesn’t rebound like a center. He’s not a force inside, and with Thomas starting, that created a situation where Texas Tech was somewhat deficient and had two smaller guys that don’t necessarily rebound great at two positions on the floor. Adding in Stevenson certainly helps with that significantly because then you have three guys that do rebound very well, Stevenson, Smith and Gray (although Gray didn’t rebound great tonight, he still usually does a good job at his position). Let’s see if the length and rebounding helps.
- Head coach Chris Beard discussed how his team responded to the loss in Austin:
“I have a lot of respect for how they embraced the past couple of days when we got back from Austin,” Beard said. “The other night we had a very short conversation, man-to-man. We talked a lot about how what we can control right now is trying to win our next game. I thought for the most part the guys did that. It’s no secret, today’s game was a game we had to win to stay alive in the race. That comes with a lot of pressure. I thought the start of the second half where it looked like we weren’t playing well, I thought they really zeroed back in and started playing each possession … We’ve got a lot of games left and in no way is each game a must win now, but playing at home today and coming off a couple of losses in a row in the league, we had to win this game today. It was cool to see them respond in that type of situation.”