Monday at the Maui Jim Invitational in Maui, Hawaii, the Texas Tech basketball team suffered its first loss of the season, a 76-65 defeat at the hands of No. 10 Creighton. In a game that was knotted at 31 at halftime, Tech was simply unable to match the Bluejays hot shooting in the final 20 minutes.
Daniel Batcho was arguably the lone bright spot for Tech scoring a team-high 17 points while grabbing five boards. In fact, he outplayed Creighton’s 7-foot-1 star center Ryan Kalkbrenner, who was held to a modest 10 points and six rebounds.
But the rest of the Red Raiders couldn’t match Batcho’s big day. Along the way, several flaws were exposed that this team must address. Here are some quick thoughts on what we saw from Mark Adams’ team in its first true test of the season.
Where are the 3’s?
Wasn’t new assistant coach Steve Green supposed to bring a high-powered offensive attack with him from South Plains College? In fact, when he was hired to design the Red Raider offensive system, it was sold to the fan base that the 3-point shot was going to be a huge weapon this year.
So where have all the 3’s been? They certainly didn’t make it to Maui for Monday’s game.
For the day, the Red Raiders hit just 6 of 16 shots from beyond the arc. Meanwhile, Creighton was a 9-20 from deep. While that doesn’t seem like a huge difference, in a game that was decided by 11 points, a nine-point differential is significant.
This year, Tech is yet to hit more than seven three-pointers or shoot better than 39% from long distance in a game. Though it has only been four games, that’s a bit of an early disappointment.
The bench was a bust
While neither team got much production from its reserves with both teams getting only four points from the bench, Tech’s lack of production from that group of players is still concerning. Ultimately, someone from that group is going to have to give Tech some offensive punch if this year is going to be a success.
The most disappointing performance may have come from North Carolina transfer, Kerwin Walton. Now with 64 college games under his belt, including 21 career starts, the shooting guard needs to be a player that Adams can rely on to be a steadying presence off his bench.
Make no mistake, Walton and Gardner-Webb transfer D’Maurian Williams were brought here to give this team some offensive juice. But on Monday, that duo was a combined 0-3 from the field with all three attempts coming from 3-point range. What’s more, they gave Tech only 21 combined minutes. If that tandem doesn’t provide more this year, it’s hard to see this team having enough offense to beat quality teams like Creighton.
Obanor has to be better
As this game was getting away from the Red Raiders in the second half, I couldn’t help but wonder where super-senior Kevin Obanor was. Tech desperately needed its most experienced player to step up but he was unable to help keep his team in the game.
For the day, Obanor was just 5-11 from the field and 0-3 from 3-point range on his way to 10 very quiet points. Meanwhile, his counterpart, Creighton forward Arthur Kaluma had a game-high 18 points to go along with four rebounds.
Obanor has to be one of the players Tech can turn to when the situation becomes dire. After all, he’s a sixth-year collegiate who has seen everything this game has to offer.
However, when Creighton put this game out of reach in the second half, Obanor essentially disappeared from the game. He would have only two points in the final 15 minutes of play and that can’t happen very often for this team.
There is simply too much youth playing key roles for Tech this year for Obanor to be missing in action for long stretches. Rather, the grizzled veteran must be a bigger factor for his team than he was on Monday.
Let’s end with a positive from this loss; Pop Isaacs. The true freshman got his first taste of action against a ranked team and he was far from intimidated.
Playing a whopping 34 minutes, one off of the team high, he scored 13 points, grabbed three boards, and dished out a pair of assists. Along the way, he was 4-5 from 3-point range.
Now, he did show some areas for growth as well. Mainly, he needs to figure out how to finish around the rim when taking the ball into the land of the tall trees as he was just 1-3 from two-point range. It’s great that he can penetrate the defense but that is essentially useless if he can’t convert on those opportunities.
Still, he seemed to take a step forward in this game, especially when it comes to an area of the game that has been his biggest problem thus far. Showing tremendous improvement in taking care of the ball, he committed only two turnovers, a season-low for him.
The rest of Tech’s true freshmen were non-factors in this game but Isaacs looked far from overmatched. Facing one of the best teams in the country, he battled all day and looked the part of a player who is ready to be a major contributor for the Red Raiders this season.