Texas Tech Basketball Receiving Offense From Post Players

LUBBOCK, TX - FEBRUARY 13: Norense Odiase
LUBBOCK, TX - FEBRUARY 13: Norense Odiase /

The Texas Tech basketball team is riding a seven-game winning streak and though star point guard Keenan Evans is getting the majority of the attention from national media pundits, big men Norense Odiase and Tommy Hamilton IV have been keys to the Red Raiders’ success.

When the Texas Tech basketball team lost forward Zach Smith to a broken foot in early January, there was a huge hole in the Red Raider front line that had to be filled.  While small forwards like Zhaire Smith and Justin Gray have taken on new defensive roles in Zach Smith’s absence, post players Norense Odiase and Tommy Hamilton IV have stepped up their offensive production.

During the current win steak, the big man tandem has averaged 12 points per game.  That is an increase of just under four points per game from their combined season average.

In four of the last seven games, Texas Tech has received double-digits in points from the center position.  And both Odiase and Hamilton have taken turns sharing the offensive load.

In each of the past two games, one of the big men has had a season-best offensive output.  Against Kansas State, Hamilton scored 14 points (including 4-4 from three) and was the team’s second-leading scorer behind Evans’ 19 points.  Then, Odiase answered with 14 points against Oklahoma in only 20 minutes of action.  It was just his second time in double figures this season.

And the importance of receiving offense from the center position is huge for the Red Raiders. Though Odiase and Hamilton score their points in different ways, when either one is scoring, they occupy the opponent’s rim protector.

Hamilton is a confident and competent three-point shooter.  When he connects from deep, especially early in a game, he forces his defender to play away from the paint leaving the rim unprotected when the guards drive to the basket.

Odiase is more prone to score in the paint which causes a different type of problem for defenders. He is physical and strong with the basketball and when he is active around the basket, he is able to draw whistles on defenders and put them in foul trouble.

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"“With this team, you just gotta stay read.” Odiase said following Tuesday’s win over Oklahoma.  “The best thing about our team is that we’re deep and we can get you at each position…”"

But when Smith went down, many wondered if the Red Raider offense would suffer and for a time it took a dip as the players adjusted to new roles.  En route to losing three of four games in the middle of January, right after Smith was put on the shelf, the Red Raiders scored over 70 points just once and failed to reach 66 points in the three defeats.

However, the offense has responded since and is coming off of a Big 12 high 88 points on Tuesday night.  And Hamilton and Odiase have been key cogs in the turnaround.

"“We just got back locked into what we usually do.” Hamilton said earlier this week.  “We kept practicing hard and working on the things we got.”"

And tonight’s game versus Baylor presents another tough test in the paint for the Red Raiders.  Tech will have to face Baylor’s star center, 7-footer Jo Lual-Acuil Jr., for the first time this season.  Lual-Acuil and his 14.5 points per game missed the first meeting between the two teams due to an ankle injury.

He is averaging over nine rebounds and just under two blocks per game and is one of the top centers in the Big 12.  Hamilton and Odiase will obviously be asked to try to play solid defense in the paint but they must also be offensive threats that keep Acuil occupied.

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So while players like Acuil, Mo Bamba of Texas or Udoka Azubukie of Kansas get more press than the Texas Tech big men, Odiase and Hamilton have come into their own to compliment each other and form one of the best post presences in the Big 12.  That is a trend that must continue if the Red Raiders are to keep up their strong play as the postseason nears.