TSX: Texas Tech Basketball Update

Texas Tech looks to get back into the groove after dropping tough losses to top-ranked Texas and Kansas, but it won't get much easier with No. 16 Texas A&M coming to Lubbock.

GETTING INSIDE

LUBBOCK — Texas Tech at least showed some life on the road against Big 12 leader Texas.

The Red Raiders held the Longhorns without a field goal over a span of 10-plus minutes bridging the two halves. Tech also scored the first seven points of the second half to crawl within striking distance.

Not a bad consolation, considering Tech suffered a 31-point loss against Texas when the teams met on Jan. 11 in Lubbock. Then again, Pat Knight has said repeatedly that moral victories do not matter as the Red Raiders fell to 11-13 overall and 3-6 in the Big 12 with a 76-60 defeat.

He can, however, try to bottle the determined effort his team put forth in the second half, when it played Texas to a 30-30 tie.

"We've still got a seven-game (conference) season left," Knight said. "If we play like we did the second half, we've got some good games left."

Texas Tech was especially aggressive underneath on the defensive end, holding the Texas front-court trio of Gary Johnson, Jordan Hamilton and Tristan Thompson to 13 second-half points. Still, they combined for 43 and rode a hot start to victory in spite of the prolonged shooting slump.

Knight must continue preaching the same principles, as well as try to establish a mindset that the experienced Red Raiders are capable of playing with any team in the league. That might be easier to convey after a four-day haymaker from Kansas (an 88-66 loss on Feb. 1) meant seeing the last of the Big 12's two best teams.

NOTES, QUOTES

— Texas Tech allowed 46 first-half points against Texas on Feb. 5, as the Longhorns came out and shot 56.7 percent before the break. Their first-half output was only exceeded this season in three previous defeats they suffered by an average margin of 23.8 points, against Kansas, Washington and St. Mary's.

— The first-half meltdown in the Feb. 1 loss against Kansas at least provided Tech coach Pat Knight an opportunity to insert freshman G Javarez "Bean" Willis at the point. Willis played the entire second half, a look Knight hoped to established in non-conference play because of the promise the freshman supposedly offered with the potential to move John Roberson to the two-guard position. The conversion could be ongoing. Willis logged 21 minutes in the 76-60 loss at Texas, scoring four points with three assists against one turnover.

BY THE NUMBERS: Negative-12.6 -- The scoring margin Texas Tech carries in Big 12 play. It ranks as the worst in the conference, though the Red Raiders are 3-6 in league games.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "We got (the margin) down to six (at Texas), and they made a run and blew it open, but it was a good effort by the guys. We played as hard as we could, but they're the No. 3 team in the country, so of course they're going to make a run, and we couldn't bounce back." -- Texas Tech G John Roberson.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

THIS WEEK'S GAME: vs. No. 16 Texas A&M, Feb. 12

KEY MATCHUPS: Getting a full week to prepare for a home game should be a good thing for the Red Raiders as long as they haven't given up on the season completely. Texas A&M struggles offensively at times, particularly if F Khris Middleton struggles. The Aggies make up for sluggish stretches with a gritty man-to-man defense and solid rebounding. Each player is capable of pounding the glass.

FUTURES MARKET: Lineup changes have never been something Pat Knight is bashful about trying, taking a cue from the legendary Texas Tech coach he followed, his father Bob. Two backups, G David Tairu and F Jaye Crockett, started the second half at Texas and keyed a 7-0 run by the Red Raiders to begin the half. The two eventually combined for 20 points. Crockett, a freshman, gives the Red Raiders some athleticism on the wing, which could be helpful in a league filled with such talent.

PLAYER NOTES

— Senior G John Roberson led Texas Tech in back-to-back losses against Kansas (24 points) and Texas (16 points). He has scored in double figures in seven consecutive games while going 28 of 52 (.538) from 3-point range during that span.

— Senior F Mike Singletary scored 71 points over a three-game stretch before he struggled at Texas and was held to four points, 10 below his season average. It was only the sixth time this season Singletary failed to crack double figures.

— Junior F Robert Lewandowski led the Red Raiders with eight rebounds at Texas and also provided 11 points on 5 of 8 shooting.


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