Thursday night in Indianapolis, Indiana, the Texas Tech basketball team played the most Texas Tech-ish game one could imagine. Falling behind by double digits early in the season’s first game on an opponent’s campus, Grant McCasland’s squad would rally to take a six-point lead in the final five minutes only to squander that lead and eventually fall in overtime 103-95.
It was disappointing to see this team spit the bit when having a great opportunity to secure the type of win that could have really resonated with the selection committee in March. Instead, the Red Raiders lost yet another maddening game as part of the Big 12/Big East Battle.
Because St. John’s backed out of playing Tech in Lubbock in December of 2020 due to COVID-19 concerns, there has been only one playing in Lubbock of this annual showdown between the two leagues. That was last season’s 79-65 win over Georgetown.
In the other three times Tech has participated in this event, the games have been eerily similar with all three resulting in close road losses for the Red Raiders. In 2019, DePaul secured a 65-60 OT win in Chicago on a night when Terrence Shannon Jr. scored 24 points for Tech in his home town.
Two years later, Providence picked up a 72-68 win at home over the Red Raiders. Then, this year, the Red Raiders again couldn’t come up with the winning plays in a Big East team’s arena as they fell to 5-2 on the season. Let’s go inside the box score for some instant analysis of what transpired at historic Hinkle Fieldhouse.
Texas Tech gets out-muscled by another Big East team
It appears that the book is out on Texas Tech this year, at least for Big East teams. That’s because the Bulldogs followed almost the exact same game plan Villanova executed against Tech last week at the Battle 4 Atlantis. Both teams used their bigger guards and wings to bully the Red Raiders and play a more physical brand of basketball to pick up the win.
On Thursday, Butler dominated the rebounding battle 40-24 and 21 of those boards came from their guards. What’s more, 42 of the Bulldogs’ points came in the paint.
Also, Butler was awarded 10 more free throws than Tech was (25 to 15). While some of that is a product of playing at home, it is also an indication of how physical a team is playing on the offensive end.
Against Villanova in the Bahamas, an 85-69 Red Raider loss, it was a similar story. Tech was outrebounded 39-31 and lost the points in the paint battle 26-14.
Where the two games differed, though, is that against Butler, Tech was able to get far more done on offense. Whereas Villanova was physical at the point of attack on defense thus preventing Tech from penetrating off the dribble, the defensively-challenged Bulldogs were unable to do the same against Tech.
Still, it is concerning that for the second time this year, Tech appeared to be the less physical team when facing an opponent whose personnel resembles what can be expected of Big 12 teams. That’s worth keeping an eye on as this season progresses.