Tortilla Tossin’ Player of the Game
Going to go with Kyler Edwards this game. No one played perfectly, but when Edwards is able to score, I feel that Texas Tech can be in any game. Edwards finished 7 of 13 from the floor and 2 of 7 from the three-point line, 7 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 block, and 3 turnovers on the night.
- / sigh / We are learning things about this team. Things that I didn’t think would happen, but here we are.
- Jahmi’us Ramsey started and by all accounts, he will continue to start. Ramsey was essentially replaced by Kevin McCullar for the second half. Ramsey has faded the last few games, he’s struggled to find a way to be involved in the offense. When he took the ball into the trees yesterday, he had his shot blocked, and when he takes the outside shot, he’s simply not making them. In the second half, Ramsey played just 8 minutes, while McCullar had 13, and McCullar played 4 of the 5 minutes in overtime, with Ramsey only playing a minute (really it was just 10 seconds when Holyfield fouled out). Ramsey is struggling mentally I think with where he fits in the offense and he’s doesn’t seem to understand how to create within the offense. It’s strange and something he’s going to have to figure out for himself. He’s still immensely talented, but he’s got to be better for this team to win some more games.
- McCullar played spectacularly I thought, playing only 2 minutes in the first half after a fall where he hit his head (Beard said after the game that McCullar and his parents and the staff cleared him to play) and his presence was incredibly important, defensively in particular. His final stat line was relatively bare, 3 of 5 for 6 points, 1 rebound, no turnovers, and 1 steal, but he was also manning up on Richards for the better part of the second half and helping keep him off the glass.
- We have to discuss two things that changed the course of the game (there were a lot of them, but let’s narrow it down to 2, but feel free to leave others in the comments). 1) Davide Moretti’s missed free throw late in the second half very much changed the complexion of the game. The crew I was watching the game with all discussed that maybe it was the Creighton game where Moretti missed a late free throw that could have won the game and now this is the second time this has happened. 2) The made three-pointer at the end of the half changed the game in a lot of respects. Beard said after the game that there was a foul to give Avery Benson was trying to foul, but the referee didn’t call it (of course, the one time Benson is actively trying to foul).
- Aside from the missed free throw, Moretti is really sort of struggling at time, making only 4 of 13 from the floor, only 1 of 5 from the three-point line. He had 3 assists and led the team with 4 turnovers. This is not an effort thing and the only way for this offense to really work is if Edwards, Moretti, and Ramsey are making shots.
- That last statement is the difficult one, because when you have Clarke and Holyfield on floor, that’s two non-offensive players, and when Shannon is on the floor, that’s in some ways a third player that is limited offensively. The opposing coaches know that Holyfield and Clarke aren’t going to burn you offensively, and teams will start to give Shannon all of the outside shots that he wants (Shannon would rather drive, get fouled, or just go to the rim). That’s some real spacing issues that Beard and staff have to work around. With McCullar being a guy that you really don’t have to call a play for offensively, it’s a bit different in that he just goes with the flow offensively, but Clarke and Holyfield are hesitant to shoot and teams know this.
- After an early part of the first half avalanche of rebounding and dunking on heads, Texas Tech gathered themselves and only lost the rebounding battle 38-32. At one time, early, it was 14-7 in favor of Kentucky with 7 offensive boards, so basically at that point, Texas Tech kept Kentucky off the glass and neutralized the Wildcats on the board. It was a collective effort and Holyfield led the team with 8 rebounds, Clarke had 7, and that was a majority of the boards.
- The three-point shooting is obviously an issue. Texas Tech was 3 of 19 overall, part of that was Kentucky guards the perimeter really well, but Morretti has fallen back in a slump and Shannon and Ramsey each missed their only 2 shots. I can live with 2 of 7 from Edwards, not great, but he found ways to score otherwise.
- Russel Tchewa was fantastic in his few minutes that he was able to play in the first half. You can tell he’s raw and Texas Tech was fortunate he made that jumper, but he was a really nice presence. I have a feeling he’ll very much be needed against West Virginia, which is the next game.
- We keep writing this, but points in the paint? Texas Tech almost always wins this, and they did last night, 34-20. I never would have guessed that. Kentucky had 20 turnovers and Texas Tech absolutely capitalized, scoring 25 points off of those turnovers. Second chance points? 14-13 in favor of Kentucky. I can take it.
- The one spot that Kentucky dominated, which is one of the things they were great at, was free throws, making 84% of free throws on the road. Texas Tech wasn’t bad, 74%, but the Wildcats made their free throws, especially when it mattered the most.
- Head coach Chris Beard on Kentucky:
“I think there was times in the game where we were the most aggressive team and there were times when Kentucky was the most aggressive team. Certainly, part of their DNA is rebounding, and it is a challenge for us playing right now but I think their ability to manufacture second shots on offensive rebounds was key to the game. I thought our guys fought, it wasn’t like we were trying to give them the offensive rebounds, we were scrapping and fighting but we had a couple of miss assignments that hurt us in big moments.”
- Kentucky head coach John Calipari on Texas Tech:
“The biggest thing is that we had to figure out how to make baskets. The throw over the top where we went to a different set, we tried some pick and rolls. That is a great defensive team. They are one of the best defensive teams in the country. They take away stuff, they switch, they collapse and make you find other shooters. If you do not find other shooters, you are not going to score. You are going to run someone over, or you are going to take a tough shot. This was a terrific win. Yeah, we get a lot of these, but this one was kind of unique and special.”
- Up next: West Virginia at home at 7:00 p.m. on the Wednesday, January 29th.
- Much thanks to Justin, Matt, Seth (not me, another Seth), Dustin, and Casey for hanging out at the Blue Light for the game.