Texas Tech basketball puts forth awful effort in loss at UCF

Saturday in Orlando, the Texas Tech basketball team put forth perhaps its worst effort of the year in an uncompetitive loss to UCF.

Feb 17, 2024; Ames, Iowa, USA; Texas Tech Red Raiders head coach Grant McCasland watches his team
Feb 17, 2024; Ames, Iowa, USA; Texas Tech Red Raiders head coach Grant McCasland watches his team / Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

Almost every team is going to have one of those days over the course of the season. For the Texas Tech basketball squad, that day was Saturday.

In a 75-61 loss to a UCF team that was just 4-9 in Big 12 play to start the day, the Red Raiders put forth arguably their worst effort of the season. Maybe this was a trap game coming just days after the emotional comeback against TCU and three days before the showdown with Texas in Lubbock. Or maybe this team simply ran out of gas after weeks of battling its collective tail off to survive the rigors of Big 12 play.

Whatever the reason, the Red Raiders didn't look like themselves in any way against the Knights. Here are some rapid reactions to what went down in Florida.

Warren Washington returns but gives Texas Tech very little

If there was any good news to come from this game, it would be that center Warren Washington was able to play for the first time since the Kansas game on February 12. However, it was clear that the injured foot that cost him the past two games still isn't right.

The 7-footer limped through most of this game and played only sparingly. He finished 0-1 from the floor with no points and he grabbed only two rebounds while turning the ball over three times and committing three fouls.

Because his backup, Robert Jennings, fouled out in the blink of an eye, true freshman Eemeli Yalaho had to play extended minutes, something he simply isn't ready to do against Big 12 teams. Yalaho did finish with eight points (mostly in garbage time) and six rebounds but it was obvious that he was in over his head at times as well. Until Washington is back to near 100%, this team is going to continue to struggle mightily as it did on Saturday as Tech is now just 1-2 since Washington hurt his foot.

Isaacs and Toussaint lay enough bricks to build a house

All year, the Red Raiders have received solid to excellent guard play from Pop Isaacs and Joe Toussaint. However, on Saturday, both members of the backcourt played poorly, to say the least.

Shooting a combined 4-19 from the floor and 1-14 from 3-point range, that duo gave Tech only 11 total points. Isaacs was 3-12 overall and 1-8 from beyond the arc for 8 points while Toussaint was 0-6 from deep on his way to just three points. Tech isn't going to win any games when that duo plays so dreadfully, especially on a day when leading bench scorer, Chance McMillan, did not play due to hip pain.

Texas Tech did not get to the line nearly enough

One way this team survives despite being somewhat offensively challenged at times is by shooting and making a ton of free throws. However, in this game, Tech was only 13-20 at the line. That's 65%, which is far below the team's season average.

The Knights, on the other hand, were far more efficient at the line. They went 15-19 (78.9%) as a team. On an afternoon when offense was nearly impossible for Tech to come by, the only hope for survival was a big day from the line but that didn't happen (as it typically doesn't on the road) and that was one reason why the Red Raiders couldn't keep pace with UCF.

Texas Tech was miserable from 3-point range

There was a time when this team was one of the better 3-point shooting teams in the Big 12. But largely because of Isaacs' prolonged shooting slump from deep, that has changed.

Against UCF, Tech was only 8-28 (28.6%) from 3-point range. That won't get it done on the road. What's more, outside of Kerwin Walton's 4-9 shooting from downtown, Tech was just 4-19 (21%).

Isaacs simply has to figure out how to get his outside shot back. Since February 6th at Baylor, he's just 5 for his last 38 (13.1%) from deep.

Kerwin Walton has a big day

The one Red Raider guard to play well was Walton. Scoring 18 points, he had his highest-scoring game since also scoring 18 at Houston on January 7th.

Also with a strong effort was Darrion Williams who led Tech with 19 points and 11 rebounds. It was his eighth triple-double of the season.

That duo combined for 37 of Tech's 61 points. That's 60.6% of the offense. But no other Red Raider managed more than eight points on the day. That's how you get beat by a bad team on the road.