Texas Tech basketball: Jahmi’us Ramsey’s return sparks Red Raiders vs. UTRGV

NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 18: Jahmius Ramsey #10 of Team Ramsey watches the girls match before his game against Team Stanley during the SLAM Summer Classic 2018 at Dyckman Park on August 18, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 18: Jahmius Ramsey #10 of Team Ramsey watches the girls match before his game against Team Stanley during the SLAM Summer Classic 2018 at Dyckman Park on August 18, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

Saturday afternoon, the Texas Tech basketball team welcomed leading scorer Jahmi’us Ramsey back in a 68-58 win over UT Rio Grande Valley.

For the second-straight game, the Texas Tech basketball team played down to the level of its opponent in Lubbock on Saturday.  Fortunately, for the second-straight game, a better second-half showing kept the No. 24 Red Raiders from being an upset victim at home as they extended their home-court winning streak over non-conference opponents to 53 games by beating UT Rio Grande Valley 68-58.

Red Raider fans got an early Christmas present when leading scorer Jahmi’us Ramsey returned from a 4-game absence to make his first start since Thanksgiving night.  The true freshman shook off the rust to score a team-high 15 points on 6-12 shooting on an afternoon when his team’s offense looked out of sync for much of the game.

In fact, the only other Red Raiders in double-digits were fellow freshmen Terrence Shannon Jr. (14 points) and Kevin McCullar Jr. (10 points).  As a team the Red Raiders shot just 4-16 from 3-point range and turned the ball over 16 times to allow the 4-9 Vaqueros to hang around until the middle of the second half.

In fact, UTRGV led the game at halftime 27-26 becoming the third-straight opponent to lead the Red Raiders at the intermission in Lubbock.  Monday, Southern Miss held a 5-point lead at the break and back on November 24th, the Long Island Sharks held a one-point lead over Chris Beard’s team.

It was another frustrating first half on Saturday as the Red Raiders shot just 9-25 overall (36%) and 0-8 from behind the arc.  Meanwhile, the Vaqueros were 11-26 from the floor (44.6%) and 4-10 from deep as they took the fight to Tech early.

In what has become a bit of a troubling trend, Tech has made a habit in recent games of allowing huge underdogs come out and play well enough in the first 20 minutes that they begin to believe they can pull off the upset.  Thankfully, the Red Raiders have avoided being stunned at home but they are certainly playing with fire and if this habit is not broken by Big 12 play, it will come back to haunt this team at some point.

Though the offense got going in the second half, two of Tech’s veterans struggled again.  Junior Davide Moretti was just 1-4 from the floor and 1-2 from deep finishing with just seven points.  This came one game after his head coach criticized his play following a one-assist, four-turnover game against Southern Miss.

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In the first half, he continued to struggle in that regard as he had no assists and three turnovers.  But in the second half, he calmed down and did not give the ball away again while also dishing out a couple of assists.  Still, this was another game in what has been the most extended slump of the Italian’s college career.

In five of his last six games, Tech’s leading shooter has shot no better than 25% from the floor.  What’s more, he’s now made just 20 of his last 71 attempts from 3-point range, something that he has to improve for this team to compete for a Big 12 title.

Likewise, Edwards needs to be better on the offensive end than he was on Saturday.  With only six points on 2-5 shooting (1-4 from 3), he struggled to help his team as he went 1-4 from the free-throw line.

This was Edwards’ third-straight game with less than 10 points, something that was not expected from the team’s second-leading returning scorer form a year ago.  He too is struggling from outside as he’s now just 3-18 from three-point range over his last three contests.

Once again, the free-throw line is where Tech was able to fend off the latest upset bid from a mid-major opponent.  After hitting 24-27 against Southern Miss, Tech was 20-27 Saturday to hold a 17-point edge over a Vaquero squad that shot just 6 foul shots and made only three.

Another positive for the home team was the fact that they had 17 assists on 22 made baskets.  That’s something Beard emphasized after his team had just 12 assists Monday night.

To his credit, Edwards was tied for the team lead with four assists matching the number handed out by grad transfer T.J. Holyfield, who also had 8 points and 9 rebounds.  Shannon had three assists as all five starters recorded at least two.

This was another herky-jerky game for the Red Raiders who once again endured a few extended stretches of sloppy play on the offensive end of the floor and struggled at times to handle the UTRGV offensive attack.  The Vaqueros decided to spread the court and allow their quick point guard Javon Levi to create off the dribble thus somewhat neutralizing Tech’s side defense, ball-switching philosophy.

The 5-foot-11 junior was just 2-15 shooting but dished out nine assists as he was able to get into the lane at will.  Freshman forward Quinton Johnson II led all scorers with 17 points while Jordan Jackson, UTRGV’s leading scorer on the year and the son of former Lady Raider great Sherryl Swoopes, had 12 points but only three after halftime.

Tech is now off for a week to celebrate the Christmas break.  They return to the U.S.A. court on December 30th against Cal State Bakersfield in the final tuneup before opening Big 12 play against Oklahoma State at home on January 4th.  Hopefully, we see a much better all-around showing after Christmas than the two the Red Raiders put forth this week.