LUBBOCK — Poor shooting and insufficient rebounding was a dreadful combination.
Texas Tech lived it during a 94-60 loss at Kansas State on Jan. 15. The Red Raiders were outrebounded 44-18, the fewest boards they've grabbed all season. And by shooting 34.6 percent from the field in the first half, Tech was saddled with a 52-26 deficit at the break.
The Red Raiders simply cannot overcome such inadequacies.
"We're not a very good rebounding team to begin with, so that doesn't help, but they had three or four guys on it all the time," Tech coach Pat Knight said. "Then we haven't been shooting the ball very well, so we can't send everybody to get an offensive rebound. For one, the chance of us getting it is not very good, and you're worried about the fast break."
Maybe the Red Raiders should worry less and play with reckless abandon more. What can it hurt? The blowout at Kansas State was preceded by their worst homecourt defeat ever in 12 seasons at United Spirit Arena, an 83-52 drubbing by Texas.
At 8-10 overall and 0-3 in the Big 12, a promising outlook based on the return of five seniors has tail-spinned into a nightmarish season that could signal the end for the Knight family directing the Red Raider. Pat, remember, took over after his father, Bob, left with 11 games remaining in the 2007-08 season.
One glimmer of hope comes Jan. 18 when Texas Tech travels to Oklahoma, the only other winless team in Big 12 play. The Sooners rank last in the conference in scoring, rebounding, turnover margin, steals and 3-point defense.
— G Bean Willis, a freshman who figured to take some on-ball pressure off of senior G John Roberson, managed just his second double-figure scoring performance of the season with 10 points over 20 minutes in the Jan. 11 loss against Texas. Willis followed by getting blanked at Kansas State, going 0-for-5 with one assist in 16 minutes.
— Free throw shooting can be an attribute for Texas Tech as long as the Red Raiders either pass or drive the ball effectively enough to draw fouls. Tech has shot 70 percent or better from the foul line in nine games and ranks third in the Big 12 with a .722 percentage.
BY THE NUMBERS: 202 — Texas Tech's streak of games with a made 3-pointer before it was snapped in the Jan. 11 loss against Texas. The Red Raiders had made multiple 3-pointers in every game this season before going 0-for-11 against the Longhorns.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "We have to have a sense of urgency. It's going to be a tough game. Every game in the Big 12 is going to be tough, but we have to go in knowing we have nothing to lose." -- Texas Tech G John Roberson.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
THIS WEEK'S GAMES:
at Oklahoma, Jan. 18
KEY MATCHUPS: As rough as the season has been for the Red Raiders, they have the potential to beat the inexperienced Sooners. G Cameron Clark is an outside threat for Oklahoma and F Andrew Fitzgerald can be productive underneath, but the Sooners lack consistency on offense. Tech and OU are the only teams still winless in Big 12 play.
vs. Nebraska, Jan. 2.
KEY MATCHUPS: Getting the Huskers to play at a faster tempo than they desire is key, but to do so, the Red Raiders must influence pace with their defense. That will be an interesting contrast. Nebraska limits opponents to fewer points than any Big 12 team, while Texas Tech's defensive average ranks as the worst in the conference.
FUTURES MARKET: Texas Tech coach Pat Knight was rightfully enthused about an experienced roster, which included five seniors with significant playing time. But the veterans have been unable to generate any kind of sustained effort and look as if they've regressed. Unless the group summons more energy, or plays to expectations, the Red Raiders will flounder. Another option is to give more minutes to younger players, though many of them are either considered project, or, in the case of G Bean Willis, have not delivered on their recruiting hype.
— Senior G John Roberson scored a team-high 19 points against Kansas State, making 4 of 7 shots from 3-point range. He also had five assists and two steals.
— Junior F Robert Lewandowski led Texas Tech with 13 points before fouling out against Texas.
— Freshman F Jaye Crockett scored four points to lead the Texas Tech reserves who played at Kansas State. Crockett played the fewest minutes (13) of four subs who entered as the Tech bench was outscored 18-9.