Texas Tech Stunned in Fort Worth, 62-61

Feb 7, 2017; Fort Worth, TX, USA; Texas Tech Red Raiders guard Niem Stevenson (10) reacts during the second half against the TCU Horned Frogs at Ed and Rae Schollmaier Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 7, 2017; Fort Worth, TX, USA; Texas Tech Red Raiders guard Niem Stevenson (10) reacts during the second half against the TCU Horned Frogs at Ed and Rae Schollmaier Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports /

Texas Tech came out guns blazing, but faded late in the first half.

The Battle for West Texas started out great for the visiting Red Raiders as Texas Tech sped off to a 21-9 lead early in the first half. With the offense aided in part by a TCU squad keen on turning the ball over, and a suffocating defensive effort, it seemed as though Chris Beard’s men would run away with their first Big XII victory.

It was not to be.

The Red Raiders fell into an offensive lull after jumping out to an early 21-9 lead, but would close out the first half by allowing the Horned Frogs to go on a 21-8 run.

At the half TCU lead Texas Tech 30-29.

However, it wasn’t just a poor shooting night that allowed the Horned Frogs to come back into the game. A series of turnovers, poor free throw attempts, and defensive miscues, combined with a sneaky-tough TCU team to spell trouble for the Red Raiders at the half.

First half struggles were compounded in the second.

Texas Tech’s second half opened the same as the first; with the Horned Frogs and Red Raiders trading blow for blow. The game was tightly contested, with Texas Tech leaning heavily on Keenan Evans for offensive production. In his third game back from injury, Evans accounted for 20 points off of 7 of 13 shooting, and went 3 of 4 from the three-point line as well.

However, Evans’ firepower wouldn’t be enough as the Red Raiders seemed unable to distance themselves late in the second half. Texas Tech’s bench never factored into the game; Aaron Ross accounted for more fouls than points at the end of the night. Similarly, Justin Gray was neutralized by the TCU defense; accounting for a mere 2 points on twenty minutes played.

Defensively, Texas Tech’s plan centered around keying-in on the Horned Frogs’ Vladimir Brodzniansky. The Red Raiders were successful in limiting Brodzniansky on the pick-and-roll, but seemed to lose track on the periphery as the Horned Frogs shot 9 of 22 (40%) from the three-point mark.

Ultimately, a close game in which Texas Tech never managed to distance themselves from the Horned Frogs devolved into a painful one-point loss via TCU free throw. The Red Raiders current situation doesn’t bode well for an invitation to the NCAA Tournament; Texas Tech stands at 16-8 (4-7 in conference), and have not managed any  Big XII road victories, and with upcoming games against Kansas, Baylor, and West Virginia things won’t be getting easier.

Five Quick Shots from Texas Tech at TCU

  1. Deal Closers — Texas Tech’s aforementioned struggles on the road have been exacerbated by their inability to close out games at the death. This isn’t anything new, they’ve been in this situation before. The question is: can they turn the corner and finally claim a Big XII road victory? They’ll need to if they want anything more than an NIT berth.
  2. Zebras — A former Alabama kickoff return specialist once said, “…life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get”. While that quote can best be applied to the grandeur of life in general, it can also be applied to referring in the Big XII. Was Evans’ game-deciding reach a foul? Probably, but if so, why not call it that way for the entirety of the game? Why let that action become the deciding factor of the game? The answer isn’t so simple…
  3. Two Steps Back — Keenan Evans’ reach-in foul may have been the deciding factor in what was an imperfect game by Texas Tech, and that’s the problem. Simply put, the Red Raiders should have never put themselves in the position to lose the game on a TCU free throw attempt.
  4. One Step Forward? — Texas Tech misses Toddrick Gotcher in a bad way; the former Texas Tech guard was the epitome of clutch and bailed the Red Raiders out a few occasions during his final season. However, Texas Tech’s current roster isn’t exactly bare; if the Red Raiders can drum up production from Zach Smith or Keenan Evans its might be possible to replicate last season’s heroics. We’ll see.
  5. Up Next — Texas Tech will return home to face the No. 3 Kansas Jayhawks, Saturday at 1 p.m. CT. Television coverage will be broadcast by the ESPN family of networks.

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