Thursday in Lubbock, the Texas Tech basketball team moved to 2-0 with an easy 78-54 win over Texas Southern. Here are some takeaways from what we saw at United Supermarkets Arena.
Balanced scoring rules the day
Though it’s been only two games, we may be starting to see that this team will have a balanced offensive attack. There doesn’t appear to be one or two specific players who are going to be the offensive catalysts every time out.
Rather, this team has the looks of a squad that will receive contributions from up and down the roster. That was the case on Thursday night.
Three Red Raiders reached double figures. Kevin Obanor and Jaylon Tyson each had 13 while De’Vion Harmon chipped in 12. That came on the heels of a game in which Tech had only one double-digit scorer, Daniel Batcho, in the season opener.
The good news is that Tech has had four different players have solid offensive outings thus far. However, one has to wonder if this team will know where its bread is buttered on offense by the time it heads to the Maui Invitational the week of Thanksgiving. When games are tight, who will Tech turn to to get big buckets? That’s yet to be answered.
An important improvement
On Monday, Tech committed a whopping 20 turnovers against Northwestern State. That did not sit well with head coach Mark Adams.
Fortunately, his team took a step in the right direction on Thursday by giving the ball away only 12 times. That’s a number that all involved can live with.
However, one concern is that freshman guard Pop Isaacs had another high turnover showing. After personally committing five turnovers in game one, the former 4-star signee lost the ball four more times against Texas Southern.
That is problematic because Tech is counting on Isaacs to be a primary ball handler this season, especially when Harmon is not on the court. Therefore, games with such high giveaways from the Las Vegas native could be a huge issue against better competition down the road.
3s not falling
Texas Tech basketball fans are going to keep a close eye on how this team shoots the ball from 3-point range given the reputation of assistant coach Steve Green, who is this team’s offensive architect, and who is known for designing an offense that revolves around the 3-ball. So far, that aspect of the offense has not hit its stride.
Tech made only 5-17 shots from beyond the arc on Thursday bringing the season’s 3-point shooting to just 12-35 (34.2%). While that’s not terrible, it is less than we’ve been hoping for.
One reason for the slow start from downtown could be a couple of off nights from North Carolina transfer Kerwin Walton. Known as a 3-point sharpshooter, he was brought here to help this program address what was arguably its greatest weakness a season ago.
However, thus far, Walton has hit just 1-6 from long distance. That has to change in a hurry for the Red Raiders. Walton is going to be perhaps the key piece that Adams brings off the bench this season and his scoring will be needed. Hopefully, he finds the range from outside before Tech heads to Maui.
Free throws have been excellent
If you aren’t going to dominate teams from the outside, you’d better make quite a living at the free-throw line in today’s game and that’s what Tech has done so far.
Thursday, the Red Raiders were 17-22 (77.3%) at the line. That was a nice follow-up to Monday’s 18-22 (81.8%) effort.
What’s helping make the free throw line a weapon for Tech is that the Red Raiders are not sending opponents there very often as well. So far, Tech’s two opponents have gone just 9-16 at the line. Thus, Tech has made 19 more free throws than its opponents have attempted. That’s a winning formula.
Battle on the boards still a concern
Rebounding will be a concern for this team until the return of injured 7-foot transfer Fardaws Aimaq who is out with a broken foot. That’s because, when Batcho is off the floor, Tech has almost no size.
Thus, giving up offensive rebounds has been an issue early in the season. Texas Southern managed to pull down 14 boards a game after Northwestern State grabbed 15.
Sure, playing small ball with Kevin Obanor as the tallest player on the court at 6-foot-8, sounds like a nice idea in theory. And yes, you can create mismatches with such a lineup.
However, the problem is that Tech is allowing too many second-chance opportunities, and most of those come with smaller lineups on the floor. I’m afraid that’s something that this team is going to continue to struggle with for as long as Aimaq is sidelined.