Texas Tech basketball: Freshmen duo shows signs of growing up

LUBBOCK, TEXAS - DECEMBER 17: Guard Micah Peavy #5 of the Texas Tech Red Raiders handles the ball during the first half of the college basketball game against the Kansas Jayhawks at United Supermarkets Arena on December 17, 2020 in Lubbock, Texas. (Photo by John E. Moore III/Getty Images)
LUBBOCK, TEXAS - DECEMBER 17: Guard Micah Peavy #5 of the Texas Tech Red Raiders handles the ball during the first half of the college basketball game against the Kansas Jayhawks at United Supermarkets Arena on December 17, 2020 in Lubbock, Texas. (Photo by John E. Moore III/Getty Images) /

In last week’s loss to Kansas, a pair of freshmen stepped up for the Texas Tech basketball program and showed signs of growing up.

Everyone loves a good coming of age story.  That’s why there have been thousands of books, television shows, and movies that cover the topic of growing up.

In the world of college athletics, growing up is difficult because players take their lumps and learn their lessons while rabid fans watch and make judgments.  But when it finally starts to click for a player and you can see him grow up right before your eyes, it’s one of the more special occurrences that we get to witness.

Last Thursday, we may have seen two Red Raiders take some important steps towards growing up in Tech’s 58-57 loss to Kansas.  And if that is the case, it will bode well for the future of the program.

The first was true freshman Micah Peavy, who got the start and played 27 minutes.  But while he’s started every game this year and looked solid at times, he played a far different type of game against Kansas than he has against anyone else this year.

Facing the no. 5 team in the nation, Peavy was not intimidated.  In fact, he appeared to revel in the opportunity to face an elite opponent.

His eight-point output didn’t blow anyone away.  But consider that he was Tech’s third-leading scorer on a night when points were incredibly difficult to come by and that performance is cast in a different light.

What’s more, it was what he did on the glass that really stood out.  Grabbing six rebounds, he was second on the team and three of those boards were on the offensive end of the court.  As you can see in the highlight below, he attacked the rim like a man possessed and even finished off the play by putting the ball in the bucket.


Peavy has been good on the glass all season as he’s averaging 3.1 rebounds per game.  However, he had not yet shown the type of rabid dog mentality that he played with against the Jayhawks.

It was an encouraging sign given that the first time he faced a ranked team this season, he was also one of his team’s best players.  Against then no. 17 Houston, Peavy scored 12 points and grabbed 4 rebounds in 28 minutes of action.

Perhaps that’s part of Peavy’s demeanor.  Maybe facing top competition brings out the best in him.  The Jayhawks and the Cougars certainly did.

Moving forward, it will be imperative that he remains as committed to crashing the glass as he was last Thursday night.  That’s because it seems apparent that Chris Beard is going to go to a small-ball lineup quite frequently this year and when he does, Peavy will be one of Tech’s biggest players on the court.  Thus, he has to play with the mentality that we would expect of a power forward.

Speaking of power forwards, how about the impressive run that redshirt freshman Tyreek Smith had in limited action against KU?  It was by far his most impactful performance as he gave us a glimpse of what he can bring to the court.

Early in the first half, Smith got some playing time and almost as soon as he entered the game, he made a pair of fantastic plays.  On defense, he helped over to block a shot at the rim which led to a fast break for his team.  He then ran the floor and finished that break by grabbing an offensive rebound and putting it back in for the score.


Smith still has to get the mental aspect of the game ironed out.  He only played eight minutes on Thursday because there were times when his defensive rotations were not correct and that’s the quickest way to find oneself on the bench next to assistant coach Mark Adams.

Still, Smith was noticeable against KU scoring four points and grabbing three rebounds, two of which were of the offensive variety.  Considering the opponent, it was by far his best outing of the young season.

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Smith will have a role to play on this team.  He’s the only “big man” in the rotation behind starting power forward Marcus Santos-Silva and given that Santos-Silva is often foul-prone, Smith had best be ready to play important minutes this year.

What’s more, he brings something to the court that no other Red Raider does…rim protection.  At 6-foot-7, he’s a high-flying athlete and that gives him the potential to be this team’s best shot-blocker.

Part of growing up is slowing down.  As kids, we all run around as fast as possible until we crash.  But the older we get, the more we and our thought processes slow down.

Tyreek Smith still needs the game to slow down for him.  It is obvious that on the defneisve end of the floor, he’s still thinking rather than playing on instinct.  But the confidence he should have gained from his brief cameo against KU will likely help slow the game down for him as he moves forward.

Both he and Peavy are going to be important pieces to this year’s puzzle.  That’s why it was so reassuring to see each play well against one of the best teams in the nation.

The one difference between growing up in real life and growing up in sports is that the latter affords youngsters less time to mature and that’s especially true in the abbreviated 2020-21 college basketball season.  With that said, it is time for all of the young Red Raiders to start playing with more assurance and confidence the way Peavy and Smith did against Kansas.  That’s because, until Tech’s young pups become big dogs, this team isn’t going to reach its full potential.

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