Wednesday, the Texas Tech basketball team returned to United Supermarkets Arena for the first time since November 16th. In an 87-58 win over Omaha, Grant McCasland’s team played its most complete home game of the year to move to 6-2 overall.
It is hard to know just how much of this performance is going to translate to the rest of the season, though. That’s because the Mavericks are truly a dreadful team.
Ranking just 256th out of 362 teams in the KenPom.com rankings, Omaha is one of the worst teams in the nation. Now just 5-5 on the season and 0-4 on the road, the Mavericks have only one win this year over a Division-I team.
Still, if a terrible team shows up on your schedule, you might as well beat them to a pulp and that’s what Tech did. Jumping out to a 42-22 halftime lead, Tech easily put this game out of reach in the first half.
It was a nice reprieve for a team coming off of a brutal four-game stretch of games against quality opponents with all coming away from home and three coming in another country. So let’s break down the stats and see just what we can take away from this blowout win.
Kerwin Walton finds his scoring touch for one of the few times at Texas Tech
The story of this game was Kerwin Walton who put up 22 points, the most he’s ever had as a Red Raider. In fact, it was his first 20-point game as a collegiate including his two seasons at North Carolina.
Known as a dangerous 3-point shooter, Walton lived up to that reputation on Wednesday going 6-7 from beyond the arc. Overall, he was 8-9 as he led the team despite coming off the bench.
It is clear that McCasland is intent on trying to give Walton plenty of opportunities to prove he’s worthy of being part of the regular rotation. Not that the head coach has much of a choice.
After last week’s overtime loss to Butler, McCasland said that he needs to lengthen his rotation to give his starters more of a break during the course of a game and to make sure they do not run out of gas down the stretch as they did in Indianapolis. To do that, Walton or Lamar Washington are going to have to play meaningful minutes. But before Wednesday, neither had done so.
Coming into the game, Walton had scored no more than three points in a game this year. Thus, his 22-point outburst was surprising, even if it came against a poor opponent.
Last year, Walton topped out at 17 points, which came against LSU. He may need to have more games like that against major-conference teams this season for Tech to be a tournament team. However, it is encouraging that in the last two games, one backup guard has given the Red Raiders a 20-point effort off the bench following Chance McMillan’s 24-point showing against Butler.
That’s a great sign for a team that for much of the year has lived almost exclusively off of what the starters have provided. Hopefully, Walton can build upon this strong showing and become the 8th reliable member of Tech’s rotation.