Overwhelming the home team with their athleticism, the Red Raiders jumped out to a 14-point lead in the middle of the first half. But by the time the intermission rolled around, Providence had chiseled away at that lead and had it down to two points. And for the remainder of the game, the proverbial college basketball rock fight broke out as the two teams engaged in a game that often looked more like a wrestling match than anything else.
Though the loss is a tough pill to swallow in the immediate aftermath of the proceedings, in the bigger picture, this was a great preview of what life in the Big 12 will be like for Adams’ rebuilt roster which features seven transfers, most of whom did not play in a major conference last season.
Overall, there were 51 fouls called in this game, which is an astronomical number for a college basketball game but which isn’t unheard of in the Big 12. Also, the atmosphere at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center was electric, giving Tech a glimpse of what life will be like on the road in January, February, and March.
But what stings about this game is that it is one that was there for the taking. Tech trailed by only one point and had the ball in the final minute but as so often has been the case with the program over the past three seasons, they could not make the winning plays down the stretch.
Thus, a win that would have looked very impressive come Selection Sunday in March wriggled off the hook and that could come back to haunt the Red Raiders given how few opportunities for quality non-conference wins this year’s schedule provides.
Terrence Shannon Jr. led the way for the Red Raiders with 17 points but it was a struggle for him to get there. Playing most of the second half with four fouls, the junior was subbed in and out of the game nearly every possession by Adams to put him on defense as little as possible. And perhaps that herky-jerky rhythm prevented Shannon from ever getting into the flow of the game as he shot just 6-11 from the floor and 2-7 from beyond the arc. (More on that to come.)
Meanwhile, Kevin Obanor and Kevin McCullar were the only other Red Raiders in double figures with 12 and 10 points respectively. We all knew reaching the 88-point mark, which is what Tech had been averaging per game this season, was going to be unlikely in this game but to be held 20 points below it was a disappointment.
So let’s go inside the stats to see just why this winnable game got away from the Red Raiders. And we will start with the one significant stat in the game that was decidedly lopsided for either team.