Texas Tech Basketball Ends Season After Falling to Texas


After seeing the two teams play three times this year, one thing is clear; Texas is a horrible match-up for Texas Tech Basketball.

The cynical fan will scoff and say, “Every team is a bad match-up for Tech,” but Texas was the worst match-up possible for Tech to draw in the first round of the conference tournament.  And the proof is in the Longhorns’ 65-53 win in Kansas City last night.

Tech’s guards have been streaky and inconsistent, but the Red Raider front court has been on par with most teams and better than the front court of teams like Kansas State and Oklahoma State.  The problem last night was that Tech’s freshmen front court mainstays were dominant by the bigger, stronger, more experienced, and more talented Longhorn big men.

Mar 11, 2015; Kansas City, MO, USA; Texas Tech Red Raiders forward Norense Odiase (32) shoots the ball as Texas Longhorns center Cameron Ridley (55) defends during the first round of the Big 12 Championship at the Sprint Center. Texas won 65-53. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Texas started junior Cameron Ridley, who at 6’9″ and 285 lbs. dominated freshman Norense Odiase who gives up twenty-pounds to Ridley.  On the defensive end, Ridley was a hulking presence altering shots for the entirety of the game.

The 6’8″, 240 lb. senior forward Jonathan Holmes made Tech’s forward Zach Smith invisible all night.  He was physical with Smith, not letting the athletic freshman use his quickness and jumping ability around the rim.  Like the match-up of the two starting centers, Tech’s starting forward was the same height as his counterpart, but he was unable to overcome his thirty-pound weight disadvantage.

Texas coach Rick Barnes started two forwards in the game, while Tubby Smith started three guards.  UT’s “small” forward was Connor Lammert, the 6’9″, 240 lb. junior, and his presence in the game gave the Longhorns a tremendous advantage on the boards, and defending the drives of Tech guards.

As if Texas didn’t have enough size, Barnes brought 6’11” 240 lb. Myles Turner off his bench.  Though he doesn’t start, Turner has the talent to be an NBA draft pick this summer.  His skill set is far more advanced than Tech’s Isaiah Manderson, who is talented but has played only three years of organized basketball.  Though he scored only five points, Turner dominated the paint in spurts and looked like a varsity player taking on the 9th grade intramural team at times.

The ‘Horns dominated the glass, out-rebounding Tech 39-24. All season, the Texas Tech offense relied on offensive rebounds to bolster its offense, but in last night’s loss, Tech grabbed a paltry seven offensive boards while Texas pulled down 17. With a weak offense, Tech must have more possessions than their opponent, and last night, Texas had at least 10 more possessions than Tech simply by hitting the offensive glass. Turnovers have been one of the biggest problems for Texas Tech Basketball this year, but in this game, they had only 10 to Texas’ nine. Further proof that this game was decided on the boards. 

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  • Tech’s guards, Robert Turner and Toddrick Gotcher kept the game close through the first half.  Turner ended his final college game with 11 points and the junior Gotcher tied with Odiase for the team-high of 12 points.  Ridley led the ‘Horns with 14 points while PG Isaiah Taylor played a terrific overall game with 12 points and seven assists.

    Most experts said that Texas could not lose this game and still be selected for the NCAA Tournament, and its effort reflected their desperation.  They made more plays, played quicker, hit the boards harder, and won more 50/50 loose ball situations.  Tech had some hard-fought losses this year, but this game was not one of them.  The Red Raiders were never close after Texas pulled out to a double-digit lead in the first five minutes of the second half.

    Tech now enters the offseason knowing what the freshmen can do, and knowing what must be done to improve.  The season was not fun for any Red Raider, but nothing can be built on quicksand which is all that was left for Tubby Smith to build upon after being hired to solidify a program that had seen three different head coaches in three years.  By giving his freshmen more playing time than any group of freshmen in the conference, Smith has laid a foundation upon which his program can stand.

    Next year will be year three of the Tubby Smith era, and it is right for Tech fans to expect the team to take a big step forward.  Unfortunately, we will have to wait until November to find out if it can.  Tim Tadlock, you’re up next on the main stage, so here’s hoping your team can salvage something out of the disappointing 2014-15 Texas Tech athletic year.