Texas Tech Wins 5th Straight Big 12 Game
Texas Tech did something it has never done in the history of the Big 12: Win five Big 12 games in a row with a victory against TCU 83-79 Tuesday.
In a tough Big 12 league, this team is having one of the best stretches in the last 20 years of Texas Tech basketball.
Aaron Ross continues to be the most consistent scorer and setting personal career bests. He scored 25 by being perfect at the free throw line, he also added 6 rebounds and 2 blocks to his stat line.
Toddrick Gotcher added 16 with some more deep 3-pointers, along with Keenan Evans and Justin Gray, who both turned in solid performances. There was also a prolonged Devin Thomas sighting who provided big depth off the bench.
Zach Smith added 23 points, eight rebounds, three blocks and three ridiculous alley-oops including a reverse jam off a lob. Below are some highlights from the game, check out the video starting at around :40 seconds. It's the view from under the basket.
The win puts Texas Tech (18-9, 8-7 Big 12) above .500 in the Big 12 and puts them in a great position to be a 6th seed in the Big 12 tournament. It will take a little help from Iowa State, Texas, and or Baylor losing AND you winning a game on the road, but if Tech finishes 10-8 in the Big 12 there is no reason Tech can't get up to even 5th in the Big 12.
The pros and cons of being the 6th seed or better when it comes to the Big 12 tournament is pretty simple. The top 6 seeds have a "bye" in the tournament with the 10-7 seeds playing a first round to see who plays the top 2 seeds of the Big 12. So suffice it to say, let's just win out. That's not to much to ask. Right?
After winning four straight Big 12 Games, and three of them being ranked nationally, this TCU game was ripe for an emotional let down. That is exactly what happened in the first half. The body language was flat and frustrations were showing after some suspicious calls from the officials. But, to Tubby Smith's credit, the team figured it out early in the second half and erased a 12-point deficit fairly quickly and hardly looked back.
Coach Smith agreed that a lackluster start had a lot to do with the fatigue of the Big 12 schedule.
"A lot of guys logged a lot of minutes tonight," said Coach Smith. "This was a different routine for us. We didn’t have that extra day off. I could tell our guys were a little fatigued, but we regrouped. There's nothing easy in this league, and you’ve got to come ready to play every night. We got outstanding play and scoring from Zach (Smith) and Aaron (Ross).”
"I'm really proud of how our kids competed tonight,” Smith continued. "We didn’t have our best game but a lot of it had to do with TCU. They came in ready to play, and I’m certainly impressed. I know that Trent Johnson’s teams play hard, physical and very aggressive. We had to match their intensity. I thought that early in the game – it wasn’t that we weren’t playing hard; they (TCU) were just hitting some shots. I’m just really proud of our guys."
The tenor of Tubby's post-game presser was pretty awesome. He has always believed that Texas Tech could win, but you can tell that he knows that his players are finally grasping what he has always know. "They’re believing in themselves – believing in the system and executing," he said.
The game was a tale of two halves in every sense of the phrase, in attitude and outcome alike. The bad first-half experience led to a 47-35 halftime score before Tech finally got going early in the second half.
Tech went on an 18-4 run to open the 2nd and took a 53-51 lead with 13:01 remaining in the game. TCU, to its credit, never went away, but they were out coached and out played during the final 10 minutes of the game.
"After we talked about the halftime adjustments we had to make, we talked about establishing a presence and a tempo to start the second half," Smith said. "We really stepped up our defense. I didn’t really think we caught up that quickly. It was within the offense, and we weren’t turning them over much. They only had seven turnovers in the game. We just picked up our defensive intensity and limited their second shots, which was critical. We challenged every shot and every pass in the second half."
After being tied at 60 with 9 minutes to go, Ross nailed some free throws and Gray did what Gray does to put Tech up by 5, a lead Tech would never relinquish.
"You have to have talent to compete in this league or at any level," Smith said. "We’ve got some talented players that are playing to their potential. We always talk about overachieving and playing harder and playing smarter. I think we have some players that are recognizing that if they don’t play harder and smarter than we aren’t going to win. We’ve stayed positive. That’s been the key all season long, even when we had some tough losses early in conference play. We just needed to catch a break and win some close games to give us that confidence. Our kids never lost faith. They never lost confidence. They kept working hard, and they got in the gym more. You just have to work harder, and I thought that’s what our kids have done."
I know this recap is Tubby quote heavy, but I think if everyone just listened to Tubby Smith then the world will be a much better place.
Stay positive, never lose faith, keep working hard and wreck 'em.