Texas Tech basketball: Red Raiders make enough plays late to down Hoyas

Texas Tech's guard Jaylon Tyson (20), right, prepares to shoot the ball against Georgetown in the Big East-Big 12 Battle basketball game, Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2022, at United Supermarkets Arena.
Texas Tech's guard Jaylon Tyson (20), right, prepares to shoot the ball against Georgetown in the Big East-Big 12 Battle basketball game, Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2022, at United Supermarkets Arena. /

Not all double-digit wins are equal.  On Wednesday night in Lubbock, the Texas Tech basketball team picked up what has to be considered an ugly and concerning 14-point win over a bad Georgetown team.

In the 79-65 triumph, Mark Adams’ team put the clamps on the Hoyas in the first half holding Patrick Ewing’s team to 26 points en route to a 15-point lead at the break.  However, in the second half, Tech’s intensity and activity fell off a cliff allowing the Hoyas to cut what was once a 23-point deficit to just one point at 62-61.

Fortunately, over the final five minutes, the Red Raiders would snap out of their funk and make winning plays on both ends of the court to end the game on a 17-4 run.  Thus, the final score of this game will look about like most people expected.  However, Georgetown’s 18-0 run in the second half certainly has given Red Raider fans some cause for concern.

Here are some quick thoughts on Tech’s fifth win of the year.

Tyson steps up

Earlier this week, Adams spoke to the media and specifically mentioned Jaylon Tyson as a player that needs to assert himself more on the offensive end of the floor.  Wednesday night, the redshirt freshman did just that scoring a career-high 18 points, tied for the team lead.

Perhaps most important was that Tyson was on fire from 3-point range hitting four of his five attempts from beyond the arc.  Entering the game, he had made only seven shots from deep all season.

This team needs more productivity from across the roster when it comes to the 3-ball and Tyson needs to be one of the players who consistently gives Tech outside shooting.  On Wednesday, the Red Raiders were an efficient 8-19 (42.1%) as a team from 3-point range and Tyson accounted for half of his team’s makes.  That’s a great sign from the young starter.

Isaacs big down the stretch

One of the reasons that Tech nearly coughed up its huge second-half lead was that the offense went completely stale with too many players standing around and watching rather than attacking the basket.  Fortunately, when the Hoyas were in a position to take the lead, freshman Pop Isaacs made his presence known in a big way.

With 4:42 to play, he scored off the dribble to give Tech a 64-61 lead then, one possession later, he found Daniel Batcho for a dunk.  Those two plays seemed to give the Red Raiders their confidence back and kept the visitors at bay.

This year, Isaacs is going to need to continue to make big plays in tight games as one of his team’s two primary ball handlers.  This team is also going to need him to be a scoring option in key moments, which is what he did in this game’s pivotal moment.

Isaacs was only 4-12 from the field but when it came down to winning time, he came through. That’s another encouraging development from a Red Raider freshman.

Bench is a concern again

Right now, this Texas Tech team is essentially a five-man squad.  On Wednesday, every starter scored in double figures but the bench was again a non-factor.

Of the six reserves that saw action, only one, D’Maruian Williams, was even noticeable.  The Gardner-Webb transfer was 2-4 from the floor and 2-2 from the line for six points.  The other five bench pieces combined to give Tech just one point and two rebounds.

Hopefully, the eventual return of big man Fardaws Aimaq, who will almost certainly begin his Red Raider career as a backup, will help give Tech some punch off the bench but for right now, Adams has few options to turn to for productivity from his backups.

Turnovers a problem again

One of the bright spots from Tech’s three games in Maui last week was the fact that the turnover problem that had plagued the team through its first three games didn’t travel to the islands.  However, that was once again an issue against Georgetown as the Red Raiders gave the ball away 19 times.

Oddly, it was Batcho who was the team’s biggest offender in this category.  The big man gave the ball away a team-high five times.  That was the only negative mark on a night that saw him score 15 points and pull down 13 boards.

Meanwhile, Isaacs and Tyson each coughed the ball up three times, a number that is too high given how much each of those players is going to be entrusted with the ball this season.  On the positive side though, point guard De’Vion Harmon lost the ball only once as he continues to be this team’s steadying presence.

Eventually, turnovers are going to come back to bite this team in the rear.  They almost did on Wednesday as six of Tech’s turnovers came during the 18-0 Georgetown run that made this a game in the second half.  If Tech doesn’t figure out a way to value the ball, this team is going to have trouble beating even bad teams like Georgetown, much less quality opponents in the Big 12.