Player of the Game: Keenan Evans. He’s going to play professionally and the way he plays, it makes you think he’s going to play in the NBA. Evans scored 38 points. 38. And that’s on just 13 shots. That’s just stupid. Evans scored 18 of 20 on free throws, grabbed 4 rebounds, 3 assists and 4 turnovers. And then he also did this.
— Texas Tech Basketball (@TexasTechMBB) February 1, 2018
Or maybe this view.
— Texas Tech Basketball (@TexasTechMBB) February 1, 2018
High Flyer of the Game: Jarrett Culver ws my high flyer of the game, the dunk off of the baseline late in the game and even though he never really got going offensively, that late dunk was huge and a big part of not being afraid to go the rim in a critical time.
Defender of the Game: Zhaire Smith was unbelievable defensively. He had to guard Bamba and Osetowski and anyone else and he’s doing it as a 6’5″ guard or forward or whatever. Again, not a huge boxscore from Smith (he scored 8 points, grabbed 5 rebounds, had 2 assists, 3 stels, 2 blocks and just 1 turnover), but his presence and being able to play on the perimeter and being smart defensively was huge. Oh, and that block at the end of regulation was huge.
Multi-Purpose Player of the Game: Norense Odiase was absolutely critical, playing 28 minutes, grabbing 11 rebounds, playing pretty terrific defense and scoring 5 points.
- This was really a tale of two halves, the first half was terrific and the second half the team was rattled by Texas press and pressure. I really thought that was a terrific call by Smart to do something to try to claw back into that game and that worked. I wish I had the breakdown between turnovers per half, but I’d guess that Beard will correct those second half meltdowns. And don’t get me wrong, struggling against that press is tough because Texas is long and athletic and sticking Bamba at the opposite goal to anchor the defense is really smart.
- And for the record, I really like Shaka Smart, I think he’s a good coach and I he seems like a decent guy. He hasn’t won at Texas and he could have taken shots, but he’s never taken shots at Texas Tech:
On his team dealing with the hostile environment …
“I think it was a great environment first of all. Texas Tech students and fans were awesome in just creating a great home atmosphere for their team. I thought our guys did a great job in the second half after getting them a little bit out of sorts. We just hung in there. I kept telling them, don’t look at the scoreboard. Don’t worry about the time just follow our process, and they did a good job of doing that. Obviously, just didn’t close it out. That is what is really disappointing. You want guys to get rewarded for an effort like that. Texas Tech did a great job taking the game.”
- But back to Texas Tech, I thought the defense was superb, holding Texas to 37% from the floor was in large part because of the perimeter defense and being able to switch and being able to move so quickly between the perimeter and the post to double-team. Guys like Zhaire and Culver are so fast and can get back and forth so quickly.
- Enough cannot be said about Evans’ play and how he controlled the game in the first half, sort of backed aay in the second half, where the team couldn’t get him the ball, and then just took control late in regulation and winning it in overtime. There was such a long stretch in the second half where it seemed as if Evans didn’t touch the ball and the team was flirting with Texas going on a major run, but before Texas could complete the run, Evans took control.
- No one else scored in double-figures but Zhaire’s 8, and Tommy Hamilton’s two three-pointers and streaking slam dunk for 8 points were huge.
- Evans made 18 of 20 free throws and the rest of the team went 6 of 17. Critical misses by Zhaire (he was 4-9) and Culver (he was 0-2) could have been disasterous, but luckly Evans saved the day.
- Josh Webster has really been stealing some minutes and he’s not an offensive player, but he can play defensively and he had a nifty pass to Zhaire for a dunk late in the game.
- Davide Moretti is still struggling, but he did have a nice assist, but then followed that with a turnover that ended up for a fast-break dunk, but I think Beard really believes in him and had him in late in the game for ball-handling and outside shooting. Moretti is struggling with the athleticism of the Big 12 and eventually, he’ll get there if he’ll stick with it.
- Brandone Francis is such a weird and confident player, he scored 5 points, but he also is taking on more responsibility with ball-handling and had 3 assists with a steal a block, but also had 3 turnovers.
- Head coach Chris Beard:
“I’m a huge basketball fan. I grew up watching NBA every night that I could. We didn’t have cable TV, but we had WGN watching all of the Chicago Bulls games. On Saturday, you could watch the national television. I remember when the announcers, Hubie Brown, would be like ‘That’s such a great game, the team that gets the ball last is going to win.’ I think that’s exactly what happened tonight. We were fortunate enough to have the last possession, and then Keenan made a play. I feel like Texas played well enough to win the game tonight. First of all, hats off to them, how talented they are. Another thing that’s really cool is that in sports there is always so much negativity stuff always gets the attention. But how about a story like this; after the game (Mohamed) Bamba stays out on the court and shakes every single player’s hands. He comes up to me and says ‘great game.’ To me, that’s everything good about college basketball. That doesn’t surprise me because I know what kind of guy Shaka Smart is, but the sportsmanship by Texas late in that game with a tough ending I have a lot of respect for that. We’re pleased to win. Every time you win a big 12 game, you take it in any fashion you can get it. Tonight was extra special because we have so much respect for Texas. We understand how well‐coached they are, and how much talent they have. I’m proud of our players. It wasn’t pretty, but we showed a lot of grit and toughness especially in the first four minutes of the overtime. I’m pleased to win.”
- Texas Tech is now 6-3 in the Big 12 and will head to Ft. Worth to play TCU on Saturday. Remember, it’s tough to win on the road and without the Kansas win, Texas Tech would have 0 Big 12 conference ROAD wins and as an aside, the Longhorns don’t have any.