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Shooting From the Corner: Texas Tech 68, Texas 62

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NCAA Basketball: Texas Tech at Texas John Gutierrez-USA TODAY Sports

It was almost enough. Texas played right with #8 Texas Tech for the first half, adjusting to Chris Beard’s defenses and attacking weak spots in a defense not known for having any. They ended the first half ahead, and withstood a second half Tech run where the Red Raiders outscored Texas 20-11 in the first nine minutes before coming back to tie the game at 48 with eight minutes to play. Texas made life difficult for Jarrett Culver, but the secondary Tech players like Matt Mooney and Davide Moretti did enough to keep Texas at bay. Tech has now won in Austin for the first time since Tom Penders was getting drunk at piano bars on DeLoss’ dime, and Texas is 2-2 in conference play along with four other Big 12 teams (Iowa State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and Kansas State). It’s not the outcome I had hoped for; I’m man enough to admit I wanted Tech to lose in part so I could make jokes about Texas fans wanting a guy who is 0-3 in Austin, they don’t quite have the same ring to them when he’s 1-2.

The Good

Kerwin Roach II

It’s probably odd to claim that Jarrett Culver showing a stat line of 14 points, 9 rebounds, and 6 assists is proof of a good defensive effort, but Roach (and to a lesser extent Coleman) really made Culver work for everything. He erased Culver’s ability to drive in the first half by overplaying Culver’s right hand, didn’t give up easy looks from three, and forced Tech to run the offense through the complementary players for large stretches of the game. Roach was key on the offensive end as well (17 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists) and his ability to get into the paint was matched only by Coleman on the Texas roster and he came off screens harder than I’ve seen in awhile. Roach stepped his game up tonight.

Matt Coleman

In the last five games, Coleman has scored 46 points, dished out 22 assists while only giving the ball away three times, and hit 7-8 free throws. He’s being consistently aggressive, he’s touching the paint on nearly every possession, and he’s been great at finding the open shooter. Oh and he did this:

Matt wasn’t perfect tonight, with about 4 minutes left and the score 58-51 he threw up an unnecessarily difficult floater when Roach was wiiiide open in the corner. The next possession ended in a Tech three that basically ended the game. Still, Coleman has been a clear net-positive for this team lately.

Rebounding

It wasn’t just the aggregate numbers (37-30 Texas, 13-7 on the offensive glass) that were good, it was the percentages Texas put up. They grabbed 36% of the offensive rebounding chances and 77% of the defensive chances, and more to the point they held Tech well under their season averages (23% vs 29% on the offensive end and 64% vs 71% on the defensive glass). If there was a lesson learned from the Oklahoma State game, it was this one. They attacked the glass harder than any game I can recall this season, limiting Texas Tech’s second-chance opportunities throughout the game.

Three-Point Shooting

7-20 is 35% from the floor, and nearly all of their threes were in rhythm and open looks. Those are the shots Texas’ offense is trying to generate, and it’s a credit to the team that they’re getting better at not forcing the three when it isn’t open. There are still going to be a handful of late-clock attempts per game because it’s college basketball and these guys aren’t in the NBA for a reason.

It’s Complicated

Offensive Efficiency

Would you believe Texas played a more efficient offensive game than anyone else has managed against Tech this year? Only one other team has cracked 0.9 points per possession this season, Texas was at 0.97 PPP. In a low-scoring, low-possession game like what tends to happen between two defensive teams who play a slow tempo, Texas’ offense played nearly well enough to win. Texas is getting better and better at driving the lane, collapsing the defense, and kicking the ball out to an open shooter. Sometimes it’s as simple as driving from the corner and a skip pass when the help defense comes, sometimes it’s at the end of a long weave with Hayes picking when to come up to screen followed by a drive then kick, but they’re doing this more and more reliably. I’ll look this up later when the Synergy servers aren’t down, but I’d bet this year Texas is getting a significantly higher percentage of their threes of the catch & shoot variety rather than the pull-up kind that only James Harden can reliably hit.

Unfortunately, they didn’t win the most important stat: points. Stupid counting stats, what do they mean any way? AM I RIGHT GUYS, WHO NEEDS POINTS

The Bad

Courtney Ramey

Ramey is in the weird space where he’s too good to leave on the bench, but not quite good enough to keep on the floor in crunch time against high-level opponents. Matt Mooney got going in the second half in part because he was repeatedly abusing Ramey on the defensive end. Ramey can cover a guard’s first move well enough, but older players with experience can put him in a bind with double-moves, shot fakes, and an advanced old man game in the paint. He’ll be fine in the long run, but he’s getting an education this year. The fouls he commits by reaching will hopefully turn into steals later in his career, getting backed into the paint won’t turn into an automatic bucket, etc.

The Fans

I lost count of the number of times I could hear the Tech fans outscreaming the Texas fans, though I should probably consider the possibility it was a plurality of Texas fans screaming for their dreamboat future Texas head coach in waiting. It sounded like a neutral-site contest rather than a home game in there. I get that this team isn’t in the top ten, but when a top ten conference opponent comes to town the fans should probably show up in greater numbers than they did. It’s embarrassing to hear Tech fans start a ‘defense’ chant in the Drum.

Texas gets to go to an arena that’s a den of horrors for nearly everyone: the Phog. Kansas is fresh off beating the hell out of Baylor in Waco and will be looking to improve to 4-1 in Big 12 play. Texas has not won in Lawrence since J’Covan was on campus and he’s older than AARP recipient Perry Ellis. The game is Monday at 8 PM CT on ESPN.

BWG’s writing tunes provided by Jaytech.