Tuesday in Lubbock, the Texas Tech basketball team took down Kansas State thanks in large part to what happened at the free-throw line.
At times this year, the free-throw line has been the Texas Tech basketball team’s Achilles heel. But in Tuesday night’s 82-71 victory over Kansas State, scoring one point at a time was what propelled the Red Raiders to their second Big 12 win of the season.
Shooting 30-36 (83.3%) at the line, Tech was able to fend off the Wildcats on a night when neither team looked particularly fluid on offense. Eight Red Raiders managed to make at least two free-throws on the night. And to prove what a great night it was at the stripe, consider that Micah Peavy (who entered the game a 20% shooter at the line) was 3-4 while Marcus Santos-Silva (who entered the game a 50% shooter at the line) was 4-6.
However, it was one of Tech’s best free-throw shooters who absolutely feasted at the line. Terrence Shannon Jr., a 74.4% foul shooter entering the game, hit 11 of 12 attempts on his way to a game-high 22 points, besting his previous season-high by a point.
The lefty was the epitome of efficiency as he attempted only nine shots on the evening, making five of them. Interestingly, he came off of the bench for the first time this season as freshman Micah Peavy was reinserted into the starting lineup.
Shannon responded to whatever message head coach Chris Beard was trying to send. He also grabbed six rebounds (3 offensive) and came up with three steals.
Also efficient on the evening was guard Mac McClung who made 6 of 11 shots on his way to 16 points. Meanwhile, Santos-Siva was able to rebound from a sub-par outing Saturday against Kansas State to score 14 points and come up with three steals of his own. For the game, Tech came up with nine steals as a team.
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This was a key win for Texas Tech despite the fact that the Wildcats are expected to be one of the worst teams in the conference this year. After dropping their first two home Big 12 games on the schedule, Tech couldn’t afford to let another game at the U.S.A. get away.
What’s more, two of the next three games are on the road for Beard’s team who faces two top-5 teams next week in Baylor and Texas. In other words, this game was a must-win if the Red Raiders are to have any hope of being a factor in the conference race. And thankfully, Tech got a win that didn’t come down to the final possession.
After each of the Red Raiders’ first three conference games were decided on the last possession, the Red Raiders were able to build as much as a 17-point edge midway through the second half before milking that advantage home. But in the first half, it appeared as if the Red Raiders were going to be in another intense conference battle.
In fact, KSU got out to a nice start thanks to hot shooting from deep by freshman guard Nijel Pack. Finishing the game with 17 points, he had eight early in the first half (including a pair of 3-pointers) as his team built a 17-10 edge. But Tech would respond with a 17-2 run to take the lead for good on the way to a 36-31 halftime lead.
It wasn’t the most aesthetically-pleasing game in the history of Red Raider basketball but it was a win. And with the Big 12 being as rugged this season as it ever has been, no victory is to be taken for granted.