Wednesday at the Atlantis resort, the Texas Tech basketball team learned just how far it has to go if it wants to be a true contender this season. In an 85-69 loss to Villanova, the Red Raiders were outclassed in almost every aspect of the game as they suffered the season’s first loss.
The Wildcats were the more physical, athletic, intelligent, and composed team as they built an 8-point halftime lead and never trailed after that. Though the Red Raiders deserve credit for showing tons of fight throughout the game, they were unable to ever truly threaten ‘Nova’s second-half advantage as time and again, the Wildcats answered Red Raider runs with timely buckets in the paint or from the outside.
It had to be a humbling experience for the Red Raiders as they got an up-close look at what a quality major-conference team brings to the court. Of course, that is why you play in events such as this; to learn where your team measures up and where it falls short early in the season in the hopes that the flaws that are exposed can be improved upon prior to the start of Big 12 play.
So let’s go inside the box score and see where Grant McCasland’s team came up short. Unfortunately, there are plenty of areas that need to be addressed.
Texas Tech had no ability to break down the Villanova defense
Typically it is Texas Tech that puts the defensive clamps on opposing teams. However, on Wednesday, Villanova was the better team in that regard as the Red Raiders proved incapable of beating the Wildcats’ perimeter defenders by driving the ball.
Never does a team want to come out of a game against a quality opponent having taken 36 shots from beyond the arc and only 15 from 2-point range but that’s exactly what Tech did in this contest. It was a sign that McCasland’s bunch had no idea how to generate offense off of the dribble against a team that was bigger and more physical at the guard and wing positions.
Tech’s only player who seems to be able to create offense by driving the ball is Joe Toussaint. However, for much of the game, he was simply overmatched by larger defenders who were able to wall him off from getting into the lane.
Though he had 15 points and 8 assists for the day, Toussaint isn’t a guy who is going to beat defenders with his quickness as much as he is going to do so with his physicality. However, he’s only 6 feet tall and 190 pounds meaning that his rugged style of basketball can be rather easily neutralized by defenders who are taller and heavier than he is as was the case with the Wildcat guards.
What’s more, Tech’s other starting guard, Pop Isaacs (who had a team-high 16 points) is also only 6 feet tall and 170 pounds. We talked prior to the season about how concerning it is that he and Toussaint are undersized but mostly, our concern was about their ability to guard bigger players.
However, we saw on Wednesday that they also may struggle to get past defenders who can body them up and force them to remain on the perimeter. That pair took a combined 23 shots on the day and a whopping 18 of them came from beyond the arc. That’s not winning basketball and that’s an area where this team has to figure out a new plan of attack because ‘Nova isn’t the only team Tech will face this year that will be physical on the perimeter.