The Texas Tech basketball team will face Incarnate Word on Tuesday and here’s what we want to see when the Red Raiders return to the court.
For the first time in a week, the Texas Tech basketball team will take the court tomorrow when Incarnate Word comes to Lubbock. This will be the final opportunity for the Red Raiders to work out the kinks before returning to Big 12 play.
It will be a game that most expect to be a blowout. The Cardinals are just 1-3 on the season and have just a 1% chance of pulling the upset according to the ESPN Matchup predictor.
So the story of this game isn’t going to be the outcome but rather the improvements that we hope the Red Raiders make. Sure, no one respects Incarnate Word more than Chris Beard and he’ll probably tell us that they are one of the best-coached teams in the country and that they are going to be a factor in their conference race.
Don’t buy the coach speak. Incarnate Word’s three losses this year have each come by double digits and their lone victory came against Our Lady of the Lake. (I swear that’s a real school.) What’s more, they haven’t had a game since December 5th as their last three scheduled contests have been canceled.
So the reality is that this game is all about the Red Raiders and how they perform. This is going to be one of those games where Tech has to avoid playing down to the level of its opponent and making certain to do the type of things that will make them successful in Big 12 play.
So let’s take a look at what we hope to see Tuesday night from the Red Raiders. And we will begin by taking a look at a player that most fans want to see more minutes for.
More quality minutes for Tyreek Smith
The last time the Red Raiders took the floor, we saw them struggle to rebound and if OU can dominate the boards against them, we have to figure that other Big 12 teams with even more size will be able to do the same. That’s why it is imperative that Tech finds a way to get more quality minutes out of 6-foot-7 redshirt freshman forward Tyreek Smith.
But so far, he’s averaging just 8.7 minutes per game. That includes an average of just 4.6 minutes played against Houston, Kansas, and Oklahoma.
It was particularly disappointing to see Smith get only a minute of action against the Sooners given that Marcus Santos-Silva was in foul trouble and that Tech was being dominated on the glass. But in Smith’s only meaningful action of the game, which came in the first half, he was slow to pull the trigger on a layup under the goal resulting in a turnover, which drew a harsh tongue-lashing from Beard. We didn’t see him again until the final free-throw opportunity of the night for OU when it was apparent that the Sooners were going to miss on purpose.
It was disappointing to see so little of Smith, who has the athleticism to be a quality rebounder and rim-protector off the bench, after he gave Tech a strong eight minutes of action against Kansas. In that game, he blocked a shot, scored four points, and pulled down three rebounds.
Against Incarnate Word, let’s look to see if Smith gets some playing time early before things get out of hand. And should that happen, let’s hope that his contributions are meaningful enough to warrant more playing time in Big 12 play.