Texas Tech basketball: It may be time to worry about this season’s Red Raiders

Dec 7, 2022; Lubbock, Texas, USA; Texas Tech Red Raiders guard DeÕVion Harmon (23) dribbles the ball against Nicholls Colonels forward Mekhi Collins (13) in the first half at United Supermarkets Arena. Mandatory Credit: Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 7, 2022; Lubbock, Texas, USA; Texas Tech Red Raiders guard DeÕVion Harmon (23) dribbles the ball against Nicholls Colonels forward Mekhi Collins (13) in the first half at United Supermarkets Arena. Mandatory Credit: Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports /

Wednesday night in Lubbock, the Texas Tech basketball team came dangerously close to seeing its 25-game home-court winning streak come to an end at the hands of the improbable of opponents, Nicholls.  In fact, the Red Raiders trailed for the vast majority of the night before rallying in the game’s final ten minutes to escape with a 78-71 victory to move to 6-2 on the season.

It was the most lackluster of showings from Mark Adams’ young team.  Yes, the Red Raiders should be commended for fighting back from an 11-point deficit in the second half and not tossing in the towel.  But the latest close call against a bad team has Red Raider fans concerned about what this team will be able to do when Big 12 play opens at TCU on New Year’s Eve.

Remember, in Tech’s previous outing, it was a Georgetown team that was picked to finish last in the Big East in the preseason polls that pushed the Red Raiders to the limit in Lubbock.  That day, the Hoyas cut a 23-point deficit to just one point late in the second half before the home team would pull away.

For certain, the last two showings from this team have done little to instill confidence in the Red Raiders.  In fact, there are some serious flaws with this team that have given fans reason to fret.

Turnovers are out of control

After turning the ball over 18 times against Nicholls, it is becoming painfully clear that giveaways are going to be something that fans are going to have to live with this year.  Of course, when playing Nicholls, you can get away with such a high number but against Big 12 teams, that’s not going to be a number that Tech can overcome.

The Red Raiders have played eight games this year, and in five of them, the turnover count has been at 16 or higher.  It doesn’t appear that taking care of the ball is going to be something that this team is able to do with any consistency and that’s a terrifying thought as conference play approaches, especially given how rugged Big 12 teams are on the defensive end of the floor.

Too many freshmen

One huge concern is that this team is relying far too heavily on freshmen.  While that could bode well for the future of the program, it might mean that 2022-23 is destined to be full of hard knocks.

Remember that last season, Tech didn’t rely on any freshman during its run to the Sweet 16.  In fact, the only freshman that saw the court with any regularity was Daniel Batcho, who played only 9.9 minutes per game.

This year is a far different story.  Tech is starting two freshmen, Jaylon Tyson and Pop Isaacs.  That tandem is accounting for 49.6 minutes per game.

What’s more, fellow true freshmen Lamar Washington and Robert Jennings are giving Tech just under 20 minutes per game as two of the pieces Adams brings off of the bench. In all, freshmen are playing almost 50% of the minutes for the Red Raiders.  That’s rare for a Big 12 team and concerning as the gauntlet that is the Big 12 lies on the horizon.

Batcho is playing too much

At some point, sophomore forward Daniel Batcho is going to start to feel the effects of the tremendous workload that he’s been given thus far.  While he’s only third on the team with 26.7 minutes per game, in contests that have been close, his workload has been far greater.

Thus far, Tech has played four games that could be considered competitive (vs. Creighton, Ohio State, Georgetown, and Nicholls).  In those contests, Batcho has given the Red Raiders an average of 32 minutes on the court.

What’s more, in the past three games, he’s played no fewer than 34 minutes.  That’s a huge workload for a player who is starting for the first time and who missed all of his true freshman season at Arizona with a knee injury.

The problem is that when Batcho sits, Tech has no rim protection and little rebounding.  K.J. Allen is simply too short to match up with Big 12 caliber post players and Washington is still learning how to play at the collegiate level.  Thus, Adams is forced to ask Batcho to empty his bucket every time out.

This is an issue that could be helped by the eventual return of 7-foot transfer Fardaws Aimaq.  But after being idle for several months due to a broken foot, it is worth wondering just how much he’ll be able to give this team upon his return.  Still, anything he can provide will be a huge help as Batcho is carrying far too much of this team’s burden.

Veteran transfers have been non-factors

In what has to be the season’s greatest disappointment, two veteran transfers who were brought in to be significant contributors are giving the Red Raiders next to nothing.  Both D’maurian Williams and Kerwin Walton were expected to be offensive weapons given their reputations for being standout three-point shooters.  But neither has proven to be an asset for the Red Raiders this season.

Despite playing a combined 27.5 minutes per game, that duo is contributing just 6.9 points per game leaving Tech without any semblance of offensive firepower off of the bench.

Wednesday, Williams got the start in Tyson’s place and he gave Tech only two points in 17 minutes.  Meanwhile, Walton saw only two minutes of action and recorded no stats.

It’s been a massively disappointing season for Walton, the transfer from North Carolina who averaged 8.2 points per game as a true freshman in Chapel Hill in 2020-21.  Unable to fit into Tech’s system on either end of the court and hitting just 18.8% of his 3-point attempts, he’s become nothing but dead weight for this year’s team.

Between them, Williams and Walton were expected to give Tech some much-needed firepower from beyond the 3-point line this year.  However, that duo has greatly underperformed and has left Tech fans concerned about what this team may be able to accomplish when league play begins.