For the second Saturday in a row, the Texas Tech basketball team stormed back from a double-digit halftime lead to secure a wild victory at United Supermarkets Arena. Last week, it was Kansas State that jumped all over the Red Raiders in the first 20 minutes and this afternoon, it was BYU that looked to be on its way to being the first team this season to beat Grant McCasland's team in Lubbock.
Up by as many as 17 points in the first half and holding a 48-32 advantage at intermission, the Cougars played an amazing first half which included hitting 10 shots from beyond the 3-point arc to nearly bury the Red Raiders. However, McCasland's team has shown all year that it isn't going to go quietly into that good night, and again on Saturday, this gritty Tech team dug its heels in and clawed back, this time to secure an 85-78 win to move to 4-1 in Big 12 play and 15-3 overall.
This was a critical win for the Red Raiders because it kept them atop the Big 12 standings and also because it will almost certainly be a Quad-1 win come Selection Sunday in March. In fact, BYU entered the game ranked 4th in the NCAA Net Ranking, the metric used to help the selection committee evaluate which teams are worthy of a bid to the NCAA Tournament.
This game also carried extra importance because it was the only home game for the Red Raiders during a stretch of four straight games against ranked teams. Wednesday, that gauntlet began with a loss to Houston, and next Saturday, it continues with a road trip to Oklahoma before ending with a game at TCU on February 20.
The Red Raiders must stop falling into large first-half holes because, as was the case at Houston, climbing back into games after trailing by more than 10 points is no way to succeed consistently in the Big 12. However, the two huge comebacks we have witnessed in the last two home games have made for some dramatic and wildly entertaining basketball. So let's break down the numbers and take a closer look at what unfolded at United Supermarkets Arena in Tech's latest double-digit comeback win.
Texas Tech guard Pop Isaacs wills his team to victory
When a team faces a deficit as large as Tech did in this game, it often requires a superhuman effort from someone in order to even get back into the game. That's what Pop Isaacs gave his squad against BYU.
In the first half, Isaacs was the only reason Tech could even dream of catching up with the Cougars as he had nine of Tech's 32 points to help the Red Raiders avoid the early knockout after the visitors opened the game on a 10-0 run. But it was in the second half when he really took over.
With 23 points in the second 20 minutes, he hit five of his career-high 3-pointers after the break on his way to shooting 8-11 in the half. It was a rebound performance after he managed only 12 points against Houston on 4-15 shooting.
However, it wasn't all about the scoring from Isaacs. He also came up with three huge steals, dished out four assists, and even came down with five rebounds in what was his best all-around game as a collegiate.
Of course, his scoring punch was especially important, though, because his backcourt mate, Joe Toussaint, managed only five points on 1-10 shooting. The senior transfer from West Virginia appears to be physically worn out after carrying this team for much of the year and no player on the roster needs the upcoming week-long break more than Toussaint.
Fortunately, Isaacs had enough gas left in the tank on Saturday. Scoring 37.6% of his team's points on a night when only three Red Raiders would score in double digits, he was the hero that the Red Raiders desperately needed to save them after a dreadful first half.