What Texas Tech must do to beat BYU in the Big 12 Tournament quarterfinals

Texas Tech must do the following to defeat the BYU Cougars and advance to the Big 12 Tournament semifinals.

Mar 2, 2024; Morgantown, West Virginia, USA; Texas Tech Red Raiders head coach Grant McCasland
Mar 2, 2024; Morgantown, West Virginia, USA; Texas Tech Red Raiders head coach Grant McCasland / Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports
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Today, the Texas Tech basketball team finally tips off at the Big 12 Tournament in Kansas City after sitting out the first two days with a double-bye. The opponent will be No. 5 seed BYU, a team that presents tons of challenges given the way the Cougars play, especially on the offensive end.

Texas Tech must defend the 3-point line

These teams met only once in the regular season, back on January 20 in Lubbock. That day, it was a tale of two halves as BYU jumped out to a 17-point first-half lead only to see Tech hold a 53-30 edge in the second half on the way to an 85-78 win.

That day, the 3-point line told the story of the game. In the first half, BYU shot 10-20 (50%) from long distance but in the second half the Cougars were only 3-19 (15.7%). How much of that change was due to a Red Raider adjustment and how much was just BYU cooling off is hard to know unless you are a basketball savant, but whatever Tech did in that second half, they need to do it again for the full game today.

After making 14 of 30 attempts from deep on Wednesday against UCF, BYU leads the Big 12 with 363 made 3s. No other team in the Big 12 is even close to having made 300 on the year.

When they are on fire from deep, they are almost impossible to beat. However, when the 3s don't fall for them, it impacts their entire game including the intensity they play with on defense. So Tech must limit the number of uncontested 3s that the Cougars get, something that they are especially good at creating given their five-out spread offense.

Texas Tech must win at the free throw line

It is always interesting to see how tournament games are officiated given that they are neutral-site affairs. Today, Tech must force the issue and earn as many trips to the free throw line as possible.

For the year, Tech has shot 601 free throws. Meanwhile, BYU has attempted only 518. That needs to be a trend that continues today.

You probably already know that Tech is the best free-throw shooting team in the Big 12 at 77.5%. But don't forget that in Tech's victory over BYU in January, the Red Raiders won the free-throw battle decidedly. Grant McCasland's team was 17-18 at the stripe while BYU was only 3-5.

If Tech can turn this into a free-throw game, it will do wonders for the Red Raiders' ability to control the pace of the game. The Red Raiders don't want this to be a wide-open, free-flowing affair. They want it to be a grind and a rock fight.

To do that, Tech must attack the paint and focre the officials to blow their whistles. Of course, it works in reverse as well as Tech can't afford to get into foul trouble. Wednesday, BYU was 23-29 at the line against a good UCF defensive team. Tech has to do better than the Knights did when it comes to winning this game one point at a time.

Tech must compete on the glass

Saying that rebounding is a critical aspect of any basketball game is as obvious as saying that having fresh breath is a critical aspect of a first kiss. However, the battle on the glass will be even more important against BYU given that the Cougars are second in the conference in rebounding margin at +6.7 boards per game.

In the first meeting this year, Tech did escape with a win despite losing the rebounding battle 42-32. Of course, that's not a recipe the Red Raiders want to follow. That day, BYU had 16 offensive rebounds and 18 second-chance points.

What's been interesting, though, is that Tech has improved on the glass in recent weeks even without big man Warren Washington in the mix. Against a much bigger and more athletic Baylor team on Saturday, Tech won the rebounding game 40-30. What's more, Tech has out-rebounded its last three opponents after being dominated on the glass 44-30 by Texas on February 27 in Lubbock.

Today, Tech must rebound as a team. The guards will be important in that area given that the high number of 3-pointers that BYU will shoot should result in some long rebounds. But if the Red Raiders can keep that area of the game close, it will do wonders for their chances of advancing in a tournament hat has traditionally been unkind to this program.

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