One Step Closer

Texas Tech basketball improved in its 66-54 win on Sunday, and in some areas still learning.

Texas Tech (3-0) learned a lot about themselves in their 66-54 victory over Stephen F. Austin (1-2) on Sunday afternoon in the United Spirit Arena.

They learned that if Robert Lewandowski gets into foul trouble early in a game, they are going to struggle rebounding until their young players get more experience.

Tech only out-rebounded the Lumberjacks by one when the Red Raiders had the clear height advantage.

Texas Tech Head Coach Billy Gillispie said the team has to get better on the defensive glass if they want to improve as the year goes along.

"We were very good in the first half, they only had three offensive and three defensive rebounds in the first half," he said, "But in the second half, they got 10 offensive rebounds and that's no good.

 "Three of them were on free throws," he said, "and on defense, you should never give up a defensive free throw rebound, and they got three of those."

But out of the team's struggles with the absence of Lewandowski, they discovered their bench could pick up the slack if he does get in to foul trouble.

The bench scored 34 of the team's 66 points on the night, led by Ty Nurse who had 14 points, and Jaye Crockett who added 13 of his own substituting for the Senior Center.

Crockett also had the highlight of the afternoon on a fast break alley-oop from Javarez Willis to put the Red Raiders up 58-41 with 5:22 left in the game.

 "He's getting healthier every single day it seems like," Gillispie said. "It was great to see him dunk that ball. It was a great pass from Bean (Willis) and he showed the explosive ability that we all know he has."

However, those were the only two points scored on the fast break the entire day for the Red Raiders, and beyond that, it is clear that Tech's passing still leaves much to be desired, and their ball control is still a long way from perfection.

Tech turned the ball over 20 times again. This is the second game in a row the team has broken the 20 turnover mark, and if you count the exhibition games, they have turned it over 20 plus times on four occasions this year.

The Red Raiders struggled against the press once again, but Gillispie said he did not prepare them for this particular press as well as he should have.

Javarez Willis said Tech was not expecting the 1-3-1 three-quarter court press SFA ran in the second half, but he said he should have done better than he did.

"I wasn't thinking," he said. "I was being aggressive, but I wasn't being smart. So I'm pretty sure that we'll be working on that and being solid with the ball, and just executing our offense like our coach wants us to."

This was all part of the game-plan for the Lumberjacks. SFA Head Coach Danny Kaspar said they wanted to put pressure on the Red Raider guards as often as they could. They wanted to do this in their press as well as in Tech's offense.

He said early in the game they wanted to force the Red Raiders to take some shots from the outside to keep Tech's forwards from getting easy lay-ins.

They would have had more success in this department had Tech's guards not shot 6-11 from three point land in the game. Javarez Willis led the way for the Red Raiders hitting three of his four attempts from beyond the arc.

"They shot the ball well," Kaspar said. "I haven't had too many teams give up 63 percent from the field like we did today."

Kaspar said Tech's defense is very physical and is a strength the team should take advantage of.

He said he has already seen growth in the Red Raiders over the first few games and he only expects Tech to get better.

"I think they are going to have a better showing than many people think they will," he said. "As long as they play defense and run their offense like they do."

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