The Texas Tech basketball team has hopes of being a Big 12 title contender. After a 5-2 start to league play, the Red Raiders have in fact positioned themselves to be taken seriously as a force to be reckoned with in the conference.
However, after Tuesday night's loss at TCU there remain some areas in which the Red Raiders must get better. So let's look at some aspects of the game that need dramatic improvement for Grant McCasland's team to actually stay near the top of the Big 12 race all season.
Texas Tech is last in the Big 12 in 3-point field goal defense
For years, it has felt like every team that Texas Tech plays seems to have at least one player get incredibly hot from 3-point range. If you feel that the 2023-24 Red Raiders have been especially vulnerable to the 3-point shot, you aren't imagining things.
In fact, no team in the Big 12 is worse when it comes to the opponent's 3-point shooting percentage. Tech is tied with Kansas for last in the conference by allowing teams to shoot 34.2% against them from beyond the arc.
This is a relevant topic given that in their last game, the Red Raiders allowed TCU to shoot 55.5% from deep (11-20). Unfortunately, that wasn't the first time that a team has shot it well from 3-point range against Tech this year.
For instance, in Saturday's win over Oklahoma, the Sooners shot 47.5% from deep. Prior to that, in Tech's only other Big 12 loss to date, Houston shot 47.1%.
Taking things a step further, in Tech's four losses this year, the opponents have shot on average 46% from 3-point range. So why are the Red Raiders struggling so mightily in this regard?
Some of it is just poor luck. For instance, on Tuesday, 24% 3-point shooter Micah Peavy of TCU drained a career-high four 3s, the first time in his long career that he's ever made more than two 3s in a game. Sometimes, an opponent just has a good shooting night and there's not much that can be done about it.
However, Tech also isn't a great perimeter defensive team. The lack of length at the guard and wing positions means that the Red Raiders don't impact and harass 3-point shooters as well as other teams do.
Also, the Red Raiders' lack of size outside of Warren Washington makes it easier for teams to get into their offensive sets as the passing lanes are less clogged and that often results in higher-quality shots for the other team.
Whatever the reason, this has to be a focal point for McCasland and the coaching staff moving forward. This flaw could bite the Red Raiders in a tournament setting given that it often takes only one hot-shooting team to have a good day and knock you out.
So keep an eye on this stat starting Saturday against Cincinnati. The Bearcats make 7.6 shots from beyond the arc per game. Tech needs to show progress by holding them at or below that number and below their season average of 33.1% (which is only 11th-best in the conference). If that happens, it will be a sign that this team has put an emphasis on 3-point defense, which is one of the Red Raiders' biggest flaws.