Inside The Box Score: How Texas Tech Beat Purdue

BOSTON, MA - MARCH 23: Keenan Evans
BOSTON, MA - MARCH 23: Keenan Evans /

Texas Tech advanced to the Elite 8 for the first time program history thanks to an impressive 78-65 win over Purdue Friday night.  A closer look at the box score reveals how the Red Raiders were able to dominate the Boilermakers.

Free Throw Excellence

As we discussed in our “Game Plan” piece, free throws had been a stumbling block for Texas Tech over the past month.  Tech had hit below 70% of its foul shots during the tournament dropping its season average to 69%.

But against Purdue, Texas Tech was fantastic from the charity stripe.  Tech shot 94% on the night missing only one of its 18 attempts.

Additionally, the Red Raiders had an 11-point advantage at the line over Purdue which was perfect from the line but only shot 6 free throws.  Tech was the more aggressive team and attacked the rim all night earning trips to the line.  Finally, Tech was able to capitalize on those opportunities and make a living a the free throw line.

Containing The Supporting Cast

Though most of the media attention focused on Purdue’s center tandem of the injured Isaac Haas and his replacement, Matt Haarms, the star of Purdue’s team is point guard Carsen Edwards and he was terrific.  The sophomore had a game-high 30 points but he got little help from his teammates.

Entering the game, Purdue had four players (including Haas) averaging over 14 points per game.  Texas Tech was content to let Edwards get his points but it clamped down on his teammates.

Consider the job Tech did on Purdue’s top 3-point shooter Dakota Mathias.  The 46% three-point shooter averaged almost three makes from deep and 12 points per game.  But Tech held him to just three points by running him off of the three-point arc and forcing him to take contested mid-range jumpers.  As a result, he was just 1-7 from the field.

Just as impressive was the job Tech did on Vincent Edwards.  After the senior scored 8 points in the first five minutes of the game, the Red Raider defense clamped down on him.  Edwards would score just 4 points the rest of the way and the 40% three-point shooter would go 0-2 from deep and 6-11 on the game.

What made Purdue so good throughout the year was its balanced scoring attack.  But Texas Tech seemed to make the decision to play Edwards straight up and live with his productivity in exchange for limiting his teammates’ production and that plan worked to perfection.

Dirty Work

Texas Tech made a living Friday night by doing the dirty work and making the effort plays.  The Red Raiders were able to dominate the offensive glass grabbing eleven offensive rebounds which led to 17 huge second-chance points.  Overall, Tech had a 34-30 advantage on the boards but that advantage felt more lopsided.

Additionally, Tech was relentless on defense forcing 17 turnovers leading to 15 points.  Of those 17 turnovers, five were steals leading to easy baskets, a key against a team that is as tough defensively as Purdue.

Harass Haarms

With Mo Bamba and Trae Young headed to the NBA, Texas Tech fans may have a new least favorite player in college basketball in Purdue freshman center Matt Haarms.  The 7-foot-3 center was the focus of the broadcast merely because of his GQ haircut and propensity for running his fingers through his flowing mane.

But on the court, he was awful.  Texas Tech bullied the biggest player on the court all night long.  Haarms had just 4 points in 23 minutes while comitting three turnovers.  Plus, he had a meager five rebounds, an unfathomable total for a guy at least four inches taller than every Texas Tech player.

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Tech decided to be physical with the skinny native of The Netherlands.  Every time he got the ball, Tech came at him with double-teams forcing him to try to find an open teammate, which he did not do as he went all game without an assist.

The attack seemed to get in Haarms’ head.  He was raked in the face by Zhaire Smith, shoved around by Norense Odiase and had his shot rudely blocked by Justin Gray.  As such, Haarms grew frustrated and let that impact his play.

In the absence of Haas, Haarms was a non-factor, other than showing the nation that running ones fingers through your hair is not an effective strategy as the excess residue from the hair product seems to make the basketball difficult to hold on to.

Secondary Scorers

Heading into the game, we discussed the marquee matchup of all-American caliber point guards and the assumption was that if one had a significant advantage, his team would likely prevail.  That proved not to be the case.

Carsen Edwared outscored Keenan Edwards 30-16 but Texas Tech received big games from some unexpected scorers to offset the point guard matchup.  Justin Gray had his best overall game of the season with 12 points and 7 rebounds while Zach Smith came off the bench to provide 14 points and five boards.  Those performances, when combined with Davide Morretti’s seven points more than made up for a pedestrian statistical night from Evans.

Overall, Tech had a 24-6 advantage in bench scoring which was a huge factor in helping the Red Raiders pull away in the second half.  In the first half, Gray keep Tech close as Purdue pulled ahead in the opening minutes.  After halftime, Zach Smith was a key in helping Tech protect its lead with put-back buckets and strong finishes around the rim.

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Texas Tech played perhaps its most complete game of the season at the right moment.  The total team effort was more than Purdue could muster and it looks like the Red Raiders are peaking at just the right time.